The year has started out rocky for Student Senate. During its first meeting on Monday, Student Body President Nick Swiatkowski announced his presidential appointments for positions such as University Senate Delegate, the Arbitration Board and other Senate committees, causing an uproar in the Garrett Center.
The issue was tabled with a vote of 19 in favor, 8 in opposition after questions were raised about the students’ experience and whether they are Greek. “I don’t think it should have been tabled,” Swiatkowski said.“The way it was handled was unfortunate. I followed all of the proper procedures and chose people I know, trust and have proven that they are capable of fulfilling these positions. If I put my name on something, I will pick people I trust.”
Of the 17 students, more than half of them are greek, 2 being members of the same fraternity as Swiatkowski. In addition, nearly all of the students are already voting
members in Senate. “I feel as though he isn’t reaching out to the entire student body to find the most qualified candidates for the position,” off-campus Senator Candace Esken said. “I’m
not saying these candidates are necessarily unqualified, but he is showing obvious bias in his selection. His appointments appear to be personally stacked in his favor.”Swiatkowski said it just so happened many of the students he is appointing are members of the Greek community, and it didn’t even cross his mind that many of the students he chose were Greek. “I chose those students because their campus involvement is outstanding, and they are people I thought would be great for these positions, not because of the letters they wear on their chest,” he said.
Student Body Treasurer Andrew Kerr, who is also the Scout’s business manager, questioned Swiatkowski appointments during the meeting and said he questions those appointed not solely because of their affiliation with greek life, but because he is unsure of whether they are the most qualified.
“Nick chose people he knew from houses and people in the greek community,” he said. “I don’t think greeks are better or worse people than anyone one else on campus.
The difficulty is that I hadn’t seen the list before Monday’s meeting and I haven’t heard a lot about these people.” Kerr said the main question he has is why the students Swiatkowski slated are the best representation of the student body.
He said he wants to make sure they are appointing the right people. “I am wondering if the slate is the best representation of the student body,” he said. “I want to make sure I know who they are and that they are qualified.”
Amanda Wenger, Campus Affairs chairwoman is a member of the greek community and is also slated for a position on the presidential appointment list.
Wenger said she was offended by Kerr’s questions and lack of trust in Swiatkowski’s decisions. “I was really disappointed,” she said. “I am not sure if this happened because of exec not getting the list on time or because the majority of the slated students were greek, but questioning [Swiatkowski’s] judgment was wrong.
It is prejudice, wrong and disrespectful to say that because I am a greek, I am not best for the job.” Kerr said Senate needs to be careful about not taking offense when people ask questions during meetings and his motive was not to offend any one. “Tough questions should be asked,” he said. “We want to encourage questions.
I am nervous that people were apprehensive and taking things personally. Having that attitude will be destructive to Student Senate, we should have heated debates, with different views. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty, let’s challenge things.”
The executive board met Wednesday and Swiatkowski made no changes to his list, though he is planning on planning a reason for each of his picks. Senate will discuss and possibly vote on Swiatkowski’s appointments on Monday.