The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday February 8th

Pro Tem Among Vacant Seats

Congress was left without a speaker pro tem after Sarah Marks, who was elected to the position last spring, graduated at the end of the summer.

Congress Speaker Mark Townsend said current Congress member Rose Miller, a junior journalism major, has expressed interest in running for the position of speaker pro tem. He also said several other Congress members have casually mentioned running.

But Miller said she is re-evaluating her interest in the position because of time constraints. "I was considering it, but I'm not so sure if I will be able to do it right now," she said. "I still have to check over my schedule."

The job of speaker pro tem entails overseeing the Congress Web site, managing the Congress listserv and assuming other responsibilities delegated by the speaker of Congress.

Former Speaker Pro Tem Sandi Chapman, who held the position last year, said the speaker pro tem serves an important leadership role, making it a highly beneficial part of Student Congress. "I certainly don't think that Student Congress will fall apart (without a speaker pro tem)," she said. "But the speaker pro tempore's job is very time consuming, and not having one will put a lot of burden on Mark."

But Townsend said the job of speaker pro tem will not be a huge time commitment because he is prepared to do most of the position's duties himself. "It's not really that big of a position," he said.

Townsend said the six vacant seats in Congress, which represent the graduate districts 2, 3, 5 and 9, could be filled by special elections next month.

Special elections, which are commonly held to fill vacant congressional seats, were used last spring to reduce the number of empty seats from 17 to five.

Townsend said the Student Code requires special elections to be held whenever there are vacant seats but that this rule has not always been followed in the past. "Technically, we're supposed to hold the elections every day until the vacancies are filled," he said. "Some people have followed that, some haven't, but (Student Body President) Justin (Young) and I are going to try and do our best to hold the elections."

Young, who would have to call a special election, said Student Congress had not yet communicated a need for a special election. But when Young was informed that Congress has vacant seats, he said he will ensure they are filled.

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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