Bill Allowing Students to Elect Senate Speaker Almost Passes

On Tuesday, April 18 the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University voted in a bill that would allow the students to directly elect the Speaker of the Senate rather than senators electing a speaker. The divisive bill which was passed with a 7-3-3 vote, was then retracted two days later when it was found that the language used conflicted with judiciary bylaws.

“It’s not like it’s not a good idea, it just needs to be consistent with what the rules are,” said Chief Justice Brandon Zarringhalam.

Associate Justice Haden Gobel made the motion that rejected the bill on the basis that it conflicted with legislative rules and  in addition to judicial rules 10.1.1 and 10.1. The bylaws for each dictate that senators are elected by the student body, but after the speaker is chosen from the elected senators they must resign their seat.

Because this verbiage perpetuated confusion Justice Gobel felt that it “needs to be changed to align with our current leg rules and bylaws.”  The motion to reject the bill passed unanimously.  

“In the past they [the student body] haven’t chosen this position, and that’s an issue,” said Campus Life and Housing Senator Andrew Zucker who proposed the bill in February. The Speaker of the Senate is designated as the leader, coordinator, and manager of the Senate body and its respective officers, as well as the chair of all meetings of the Senate. With the ratification of this bill, the students would vote in the speaker and allow a full senate to be in session coming into fall term. This differs from the current legislative rule 1.4.2 which gives the senate the power to elect a speaker from the list of senators.

However, as Zucker pointed out, this creates a hole in the senate and a lack of representation for those constituents who voted for their student senator. “Part of the senate’s job is to represent the voice of the students which is why many of us believe the speaker should be elected by the students,” said Zucker.

Tyler Lubbert, Education, Health, and Leadership senator, never changed his mind. When voting the first time he said, “I think we [senators] as students should elect the speaker because we need to trust them and be able to facilitate a meeting to work towards a resolution.”

“[The bill] was stating that we couldn’t adequately represent our constituents and it was stating that the student body would have elected a more suited speaker of senate rather than us representing them,” Lubbert said trying to explain his reason for opposing it. “It’s not that I don’t think they would elect an adequate speaker of the senate,” he said. “It’s that I think the senators would have a better idea of who to pick.”

The bill will return to the senate and be reintroduced in a few weeks.

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