Senate passes new legislation, appoints new council

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Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Under Senate Bill 1606, the General Assembly of the Senate of College Councils voted on its executive appointments for the first time ever Thursday night at a meeting marking the 50th anniversary of Senate. 

SB 1606 went into effect after passing unanimously Feb. 10 to allow for two minutes of presentation time and three minutes of question and answer from the General Assembly during Executive Board appointments, an unprecedented step toward transparency for Senate. 

Each appointment must now receive a two-thirds vote from the councils to be approved. In previous years, there was no confirmation process, and only the Senate president and vice president approved the Executive Board nominations. 

Senate president incumbent Sergio Cavazos said the importance of the new confirmation process is transparency from the Executive Board. 

“In the past we were just confirming these people, and there really wasn’t a mechanism for the assembly to understand where these people were coming from,” government senior Cavazos said. “So I think that was perfect we got to hear why all these candidates were selected for the job, what their ideas were, and they got to ask questions, which is what matters too.”

Cavazos said he hopes the confirmation process will yield more collaboration between councils and the Executive Board in the future. 

Chemical engineering junior Drishti Wadhwa was confirmed as membership director on the Executive Board and said the confirmation process helps to bring the councils and the Executive Board together as a whole.

“It’s a really positive step,” Wadhwa said. “As membership director my job is to work with all the different members of Senate, and the fact that they know who I am a year ahead of time really helps the situation, so I think it’s really fantastic.” 

All appointments for Executive Board received at least a two-thirds vote. The new Executive Board will include Chandler Forsythe, Shreya Chandrasekar, Adrienne Epstein, Caitland Campbell, David Jenkins and Wadhwa.

In addition, Senate Resolution 1617 passed unanimously to add closed captioning to live online courses. Students previously had to submit a request to Services for Students with Disabilities to receive closed captioning. SR 1617 will lift this barrier for all students, including the deaf and the hearing-impaired. 

Public relations senior Ryan Dempsey, president of Communication Council, said he thinks the resolution is an important follow-up to the University’s wishes.

“The campus as a whole is moving to online courses,” Dempsey said. “It’s the University’s goal so they’re going to make it happen.”

SR 1618 passed unanimously to create a new tab on the MyStatus homepage to link Center for Teaching and Learning Test Results and Course Petitioning to the UTDirect website. 

Senate also passed Senate bills 1608, 1609 and 1610 to reallocate stipend funds in the Executive Board, to amend the internal spending rules of Senate and to expand the Returning At-Large program, respectively. The Returning At-Large program offers individuals the chance to stay within the organization despite not serving a co-chair role.