Senate considers new constitutional reform at first meeting

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UT Senate President Sergio Cavazos leads the first legislative assembly of the spring semester Thursday evening. A main focus of the meeting involved changes to the appointment process of executive positions. 

Photo Credit: Thomas Negrete | Daily Texan Staff

The 2016 election season may be over, but the Senate of College Councils did not hesitate Thursday night to modify its election code for the coming semester.

The majority of the meeting was spent discussing Senate Bill 1606 and Senate Resolution 1607, which would both make major modifications to the appointment process of the executive board.

SB 1606 called to amend the Senate constitution to require a more arduous interview process. Senate President Sergio Cavazos said the resolution would include two minutes of candidate presentation and three minutes for question and answer during the tryout period for executive positions.

“Basically in every other (legislative student organization), when you’re appointing someone to a position, you have some sort of confirmation hearing or even a presentation of why that person is qualified for a position,” Cavazos, a government senior, said. “Right now in Senate, for y’all that are here if you remember back to April, Austin, Chris and I put up a bill that said this is our executive board … and everyone approved them without really getting into a discussion why.”

Cavazos said confirmation hearings are important to understand what each candidates brings to the table in the interest of transparency.

Similarly, SB 1607 is a senate bill in support of transitioning the financial director from an elected position to an appointment by the president-elect and vice president-elect.

The bill will make the financial director position open to the entire student body as opposed to the individuals who are currently eligible to run for Senate.

Business Council president Sean Sellers, Plan II and business honors senior, said he thinks it’s a little arbitrary to have a position that relies on functional expertise put up for election.

“I don’t see the risk,” Sellers said. “I think at the end of the day, that’s six positions being appointed instead of five appointments, so I think it’s a very positive change.”

Policy director Bishop Wash said the creation of a council or a committee of the financial directors is going to create a platform for fair representation.

“We have a system that’s flawed right now,” Wash, an advertising senior, said. “We just want financial director to be a position where we can get really, really qualified candidates from all over the University, no matter what their background is.”

Financial director Chris Whitehair said he didn’t originally realize the position was going to be opened to all of campus.

“The institutional and internal knowledge that I have of how the Senate budget works through the three years that I’ve been in Senate was very important to the way I approached this role,” Whitehair, a finance
senior, said.

Senate Resolution 1610 passed unanimously to re-implement a year-round pell grant, or financial federal aid, for students in need.

Nominations for executive positions will take place at the third Senate general
assembly meeting Feb. 23.