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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 elects student services chair, confirms SAFAB

The+Student+Fee+Advisory+Board+sworn+in+during+the+student+senate+meeting+on+Wednesday%2C+March+1%2C+2023.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Photo by Sneha Bale

The Student Fee Advisory Board sworn in during the student senate meeting on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. 

The Texas A&M Student Senate had an eventful night with an election for a student services chair, confirmation of the Student Affairs Fee Advisory Board, or SAFAB, and passing of three bills on March 1, 2023.

The meeting began with an open forum, with the student body president, class president and Yell Leader candidates present to speak to the student senate for two minute-long presentations, followed by a questioning period. 

Junior class president candidate Ramón Rodríguez said he has experience in the senate, and his main goals were to improve campus safety and emphasize mental health resources throughout campus.

The next speaker was biomedical sciences senior Alexander Chaiken. Chaiken said he was running for senior class president because he experienced a great disconnect from the other people in his class during their freshman year. Now, he said he wants his class to feel united their senior year. He also said he is known around campus for running the Star Wars A&M meme page and for getting locked in the Medical Sciences Library overnight. 

All of the student body president candidates were present at the student senate, each wanting to expand on their platform and experience.

Marketing junior Cate Craddock said her main goal was to create a community for every Aggie. She wants to work towards adding QR codes in every dorm room and improve involvement with the Corps of Cadets.

The next speaker was finance junior Hudson Kraus. Kraus said his main goal is to focus on a mental health task force and add academic rest days. As the president of the Interfraternity Council, Kraus said he has experience managing various groups within the council.

The speaker after Kraus was race, gender, ethnicity junior Bailey Greenwood. Greenwood said inclusivity is a big priority for her. She also said she would prioritize her position if elected and drop her other extracurriculars to make time.

The final speaker was biomedical sciences junior Christian Newtown. Newton said he has served as a class president for the past two years and wants his class to feel connected. 

After Newton’s presentation, off-campus caucus senator Jesus Rodriguez spoke during his question and answer sessions.

“You were the only candidate not present at the Diversity and Inclusion Town Hall,” Rodriguez said. “As a minority running for president, what message does that send?” 

The Diversity and Inclusion Town Hall took place at the Memorial Student Center Flag Room on Feb. 28, and Newton said he felt sick the day prior and tried his best to make it. This concluded the speeches from the student body president candidates and swiftly moved onto the candidates for Yell Leaders.

The first speaker was philosophy senior Thomas Greve. Greve said he is a current member of the Corps of Cadets and allocated his time to speak about the other 5 For Yell candidates and their backgrounds, as they were unable to attend the senate meeting. Greve said his priority is following tradition, being present at athletic events and [being dedicated] to the student body as a whole. 

The final speaker in the open forum was accounting junior Andres Aguilera. Aguilera said he was focused on family, traditions and diversity. A few senators asked Aguilera about how he was the only one running that isn’t a part of the Corps of Cadets, to which Aguilera said he would provide a fresh perspective and try his best.

The next action item on the agenda was the confirmation of the new board members for SAFAB. After countless interviews and a thorough vetting process, the board was sworn in at this meeting to serve the student body and its best interests.

The main event of the night was the election of the Student Services committee chair. Many senators felt particularly strong about the vacant seat getting filled for the remainder of the session, especially Off-campus caucus senator Corbitt Armstrong. 

“We need a chair, and it is essential for projects in the works that need finishing, so I say we have it tonight,” Armtrong said.

Each candidate was given 10 minutes to present their case, followed by a five minute question and answer period. 

The first candidate was Off-campus caucus senator Andrew Applewhite. Applewhite said he worked with the Student Services committee to help with mental health and suicide awareness week. He also said he was endorsed by the past chair, senator Graham Wolfe, as his replacement as chair.

Each candidate had the option to bring along a character witness with them, and Applewhite brought geosciences caucus senator Joshua Benson. 

“[Applewhite] can make the most of what we have left in the session,” Benson said. “He is the only one I have seen reposting Student Services information on Instagram and seen him at the meetings.”

The second candidate was engineering caucus senator Kevin Pierce. Pierce said he is working for parking for student senators and wants to create a student-workers subcommittee. He also said he expands to work towards encouraging committee members to take on their own projects and give them the means to do so. 

His character witness was Community Relations Chair Jessica Williams. 

“[Pierce] is a self-led initiator, and [has] started a lot of projects that take longer because it has more impact,” Williams said.

The third candidate was Corps of Cadets caucus senator Gus Rodriguez. Rodriguez said he is a current caucus leader for the Corp of Cadets and wants to work towards adding the new national suicide lifeline number to back of IDs and create digital IDs. 

His character witness was Legislative Relations Chair Patrick Englehart. Englehart said Rodriguez has one of the best attendance records of the student senate and is always willing to engage in civil discourse. 

The vote was put to a secret ballot, which is a vote on paper ballots where the ballot will be shredded by the end of the day. The secret ballot reflected that Senator Applewhite won the election for Student Services chair and was soon after sworn in by the student senate. 

The student senate took a quick recess and moved on to the bills and acts on the agenda.

First was the Senate Vacancy Process Act. This act is targeted at redefining and finalizing the vacancy process for filling empty senate seats in the middle of the session. The main supporters of this bill were geosciences caucus senator Joshua Benson and education caucus senator Eve Anders. This act was brought up last session after being referred to the Rules and Regulations committee, but passed during the meeting.

The Sustainability Advancement Resolution was introduced by liberal arts caucus senator Alejandro Prieto and engineering caucus senator Isael Alcantar. This resolution is to show senates’ support for university efforts to reduce carbon emissions by implementing more sustainable resources. This bill was sent to the Rules and Regulations committee last meeting for further review, and passed this meeting.

The final proposed piece was the Me Plus Three Resolution, introduced by Community Relations Chair Williams. Williams, who works with the College Station City Hall, is working towards implementing housing laws for students. The resolution aims to stop students getting fined for occupying housing with more than three non-family members. This resolution would also encourage students to comply with occupancy laws to show cooperation with the city. 

Getting four bills approved along with the elections, confirmation and open forum is an impressive feat, fish aide Vinathi Golkonda said.

The next senate meeting will be held on March 8, 2023 at 7 p.m. in Koldus Room 144.

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