President of the Student Body Sarah Handler presented two bylaw amendments to the General Assembly April 20, both of which proposed the creation of new positions.
The first amendment proposed the creation of a chief of staff that would join the cabinet and be responsible for advising presidential policy, assisting the executive board with logistics and overseeing the implementation of the president’s initiatives.
This amendment was voted down by the assembly that week, marking itself as the first resolution of the school year to fail in generating the proper number of votes.
However, the next week at General Assembly, President Handler created the position of chief of staff through a “presidential appointment.” This was voted upon and passed by the assembly 21 for and three against.
The facts of this are fair. President Handler is allowed to create a temporary appointment.
Yet, the message this sends to student senators is not. The decision to elevate a previously rejected amendment and sneak around the system in order to make changes makes it appear as if the senators’ voices don’t matter.
It seems that the executive cabinet of Student Senate had already decided to create this positon, whether or not the student senators approved of it, they saw the need for it or understood it.
Student Senate executive members have historically had a difficult time with senator participation. Most resolutions are proposed and designed by cabinet members.
Although, senators were not supporting the amendment, they were asking questions and actively engaging in the process. This is something previous student body presidents have tried and failed to do in order to get senators truly interested.
However, by creating a chief of staff position after it previously failed to pass, provides senators with the message that even when they get involved, they still won’t make a difference.
Handler said in an interview with The Scout that she was going to motivate students by empowering them. However, this action does the opposite of empower. This diminishes their power.
We expect better. We deserve better, and so do the student senators.