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Vacancy in Student Senate

Photo via Student Senate.

Student Senate sent an email to all students on Wednesday, announcing a vacancy in an executive cabinet position.

Eduardo Tapia, who previously was the chair of campus safety and community relations in Student Senate, stepped down from the position as he is taking a medical leave from the university.

Tapia’s leave means there are now two high-level vacancies in Student Senate.

Malini Wijesinghe, senior Spanish, biochemistry and philosophy triple major, who was elected as speaker of the assembly in April, stepped down from her position during the summer. In addition to these two high-level vacancies, there are six more senator seats that remain unfilled — one senior, one junior and four at-large positions.

“I’m currently filling the two of the eight spots that are missing,” said Camille Sanders, chief of staff of the Student Senate. “My job as chief of staff, if someone like chairperson is dropped, is to pick up their role until we can find someone to fill that.”

Student Senate sent out the application for Wijesinghe’s position on Oct. 30, and it is still an on-going election. According to Sanders, there will be a mid-term election in the spring semester to fill the six senator seats.

This is not the first time this semester that Student Senate has had a large amount of vacancies.

A special election was held in early October to fill two sophomore and five at-large senator positions.

“One of the issues is, when we have the interest, getting people to get people to follow through with it,” Sanders said. “The first vacancy election we had, we had about 30 people show interest for these five positions, and we only had four people show up to the actual election.”

Mikki Tran, student body president, said a low retention rate is not something new to the Student Senate.

“It’s not abnormal for retention to be low within the Student Senate,” Tran said. “We have been stricter on our constitution and it plays a part in it.”

Sanders said she speculates that institutional changes may have been one factor in causing the high turnover rate this year in the senate.

“Last year, we implemented a lot of new changes to our constitution … this year, I think the organization has taken itself a little bit more serious than it has in the past,” Sanders said. “This year, we really pushed engaging the senators more, putting more of the work on them, so they feel like they’re actually doing something in the [Student Senate], instead of just sitting and listening the whole time.”

Students who are interested in the chairperson of campus safety and community relations position will need to fill out the application attached in the Student Senate email, and it will need to be completed by Wednesday, Nov. 21.

“As much as I love doing these jobs, it takes a toll on myself, and also it’s not good for the organization,” Sanders said. “We want as many people in there as possible from different points of the university to contribute to the conversations we have, and giving an accurate representation of the voices on campus, instead of it being dominated by just a few people.”

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