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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Student Senate confirms new senators to fill vacancies

Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver
Koldus Building

The Texas A&M Student Senate met on Wednesday, Feb. 2, confirming 12 new senators to fill vacancies. Coming just before student body elections on March 3, filling these vacancies allows the senate to have a more complete body for the next few meetings.

The 12 newly confirmed senators came through the recent vacancy procedure, passed at the Dec. 1, 2021, meeting, in which only senators in each caucus would have control over the selection of nominees to fill the vacancy in their caucus. This procedure, originally passed without debate, proved to be contentious within the College of Geosciences caucus.

The College of Geosciences caucus has only two senate seats, meaning with the vacancy meteorology sophomore Joshua Benson, the sole senator from his caucus, would have almost complete control over the nominee from his caucus.

When presented with all 12 of the senators to be confirmed, computer science senior Samuel Jefferis, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, made a motion for the nominee from the College of Geosciences, environmental geosciences junior Jenna Beyer, to be considered separately, which passed by a majority vote.

After this motion passed, the remaining 11 senators went through a period of question and answer from the Senate body, being asked about their goals for the senate term and what they love about A&M. Technology management junior Donald Russell from the College of Education and Human Development caucus discussed the beauty of the Aggie family and said this is what makes A&M special.

“The family that is in this place, and the love and appreciation that we give each other, is why I’m here,” Russell said through tears.

Russell also talked about his passion for the Student Senate, wanting to help make A&M a better option for non-traditional students, like students who are coming back to their undergraduate education later on in life, like himself.

“I’m here to see what … I can do to help my fellow transfer students and non-traditional students acclimate and experience the full Aggie experience,” Russell said.

Agricultural economics junior Bailey Hubbard, nominated for a seat in the Off-Campus caucus, talked about her passions and wanting to work with apartment complexes to fight rent increases that affect students.

“One thing that I’ve noticed recently though, in the Bryan-College Station area, is a lot of the student living apartments are increasing rent drastically,” Hubbard said.”There are a lot of places that are already emailing their students that rent will increase by $100-200 in the next year, and I think us, as the student body, can advocate to not let that happen.”

The question and answer period ended, leading to a period of debate highlighted by senator Tyler Smith, an agricultural economics junior, asking his fellow senators to take inspiration in the ambition that these nominees have.

“[I hope] we remember the hopeful attitudes that [the nominees] have about SGA [Student Government Association] … and maybe take some inspiration from these people who have no idea what happens in this room and maybe we try and change some stuff,” Smith said.

After these comments, these 11 new senators were confirmed by a unanimous vote of 41-0.

After this vote, Beyer was brought back in and asked questions by the Senate body about why she wanted to be a senator and her goals for Student Senate. Beyer said she wants to continue work on campus sustainability, making this goal a focus for the university.

“One thing that I might like to work on is reducing food waste [in] dining halls and using more sustainable materials in campus dining halls as well, because we are feeding so many students daily,” Beyer said. “I think that would make a huge impact on campus.” 

After question and answer, Beyer was asked to leave the room before a period of debate, in which senator Benson said he was, in his view, strong-armed by the Internal Affairs Committee to bring forward this nominee.

“So here’s the issue, though, I was then told, if you don’t put her forward to confirm her, that [Internal Affairs] will,” Benson said. “I was given this option that you either confirm her or [Internal Affairs] will and then you can debate against it.”

Rules and Regulations Chair Meghan Hein clarified, stating that Internal Affairs made no promise that they would definitely bring her forward. Hein said that the Internal Affairs committee only said they would review the applicant and decide whether to nominate her.

Afterward, debate continued, with both sides going back and forth. Senator Angelina Baltazar, a biomedical engineering sophomore, debated for the candidate, and said attacking her qualifications is hypocritical, as no one on the Senate had many qualifications before being elected.

“To put these standards on our vacancy nominees is just unfair, and I feel if she has the will to be part of the Senate and the determination to be a part of this organization, then we should confirm her,” Baltazar said.

After this debate, Beyer was confirmed by a unanimous vote of 42-0.

In other news, the Senate elected a new chair of the Community Relations Committee, biology junior Kristina Samuel. Chief Justice Karissa McIntosh, an accounting senior, gave a presentation to the senate body about what the SGA Judicial Court does and she talked about some issues with the confirmation process for new justices at the previous meeting.

Senator Kate Lester, a food science and technology junior, gave a presentation about a project that the Executive Academic Affairs Committee is working on. This project, called the Open Educational Resource Award, or OER Award, is going to be given to three professors who use free educational resources, helping to lower the cost of entry to a college education. Students are encouraged to nominate their professors here.

Elections for student senators are also coming up, with filing for candidates open between Feb. 7 and Feb. 18. Students interested in running can see the timeline here for more information.

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