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The Daily Tar Heel

Student Congress needs new speaker


Rules and judiciary committee chairman Zach De La Rosa has been praised for overseeing the Student Code.

With little more than a month remaining in its 92nd session, Student Congress is looking to fill the speaker position vacated Feb. 7 by Deanna Santoro.

Though speaker nominations and the internal election will not come until Tuesday, representatives said the decision will likely come down to Alex Mills, speaker pro tempore, and Zach De La Rosa, chairman of the rules and judiciary committee.

Before the session ends March 29, the new speaker will preside over the discussion of the annual budget and any nominations made by the student body president.

Mills said the Tuesday vote will not be contentious because of the brevity of the new speaker’s term.

“I don’t expect there to be any factions or disagreements going on,” Mills said. “We’re very close to ending the session. There would be only two more cycles so it’s not really as competitive.”

But McKinney Brown, chairman of the student affairs committee, said the election could follow the trend of the recent campus-wide elections.

“Nothing really in student government seems to be calm anymore,” he said.

Should Mills rise to the role of speaker, Student Congress members said the race to fill his role as speaker pro tempore would be more competitive, as the job would represent a stepping stone to higher positions in the 93rd session, which begins in early April.

Santoro said the group is strong enough that many members could be successful. “There’s a lot of people in Student Congress right now that could do a good job,” she said.

Some Student Congress members said they are confident that Mills will fill the position for the remaining session and become the first graduate student in recent memory to lead the body.

“A lot want to give him a shot,” said Chelsea Miller, chairwoman of the finance committee.

Others placed their confidence in De La Rosa. “(He) has done a great job overseeing the code. I’d like to see him getting the position,” said Congress member Greg Steele.

Congress member Kristen Johnson said she is looking for candidates who can uphold the Student Code like Santoro, who stepped down to file a complaint against the Board of Elections for confirming the candidacy of student body secretary Ian Lee.

In the complaint, Santoro cited a section of the Student Code that prohibits the student body secretary and other high-ranking members of student government from campaigning while serving in the role.

“Deanna stepped down because she wanted to have a voice,” Johnson said.

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