The 98th Student Congress met for the first time Wednesday night to elect its officers for the 2016-2017 school year.
New members were inaugurated in a ceremony on Tuesday night before their first meeting Wednesday night. During the meeting, congress members voted on six positions.
Junior Cole Simons was elected speaker. This will be Simons’ third session of Congress, and he ran unopposed. David Joyner preceded him as speaker.
“Speaker Joyner did a really great job really focusing us in on operating directly and making sure we’re following the rules that need to be followed,” Simons said.
Simons said as speaker, he wants to provide an outlet for student voices.
“My goal is to be able to get out and to get enough students opinions that we can go and say, ‘Students aren’t apathetic to these issues — there is a huge number of students who, while they may not be out protesting or they may not be out constantly yelling and talking about things, they do have opinions and these are what those opinions are.”
Chase McConnachie was elected speaker pro-tempore.
“One of the things that I really want to focus on this year is getting (Student Congress) up to speed as soon as possible — that way we can start this fall semester going in full swing, everybody’s up to date, knowing what 'second' and 'move' and all of this other stuff means," she said.
Ben Albert was elected finance committee chairperson after serving on the finance committee this year.
“It’s a really big time commitment, but it’s really rewarding," he said. "We get to learn about and contribute to the success of so many different student groups, and so it’s really worth the time that you put in.”
First-year Katharine Shriver was elected ethics committee chairperson.
“I’ve been to almost every meeting. I’m a rising sophomore next year, so I am dedicated to Student Congress," she said.
Sophomore Sarah Hudak was elected oversight and advocacy committee chairperson. Hudak said she has a list of things she wants to change.
“Food and tuition is expensive, housing totally sucks, drunk driving is still a huge problem, CAPS is full,” she said.
Hudak said she would like to increase access to feminine products on campus.
“You could literally swim in the pile of condoms on campus but God forbid something happens to you in the middle of class, you’re gonna have to miss class.”
Sophomore Phillip Jester was elected rules and judiciary committee chairperson.
Congress members then divided themselves up into committees. Seven members were appointed for the finance committee, six members for the oversight and advocacy committee and six for the rules and judiciary committee. Four volunteered to serve on the ethics committee.
Simons said he's looking forward to incorporating students into the work Student Congress does.
“This past year we’ve built a really strong base of getting stuff done, and so this next year we’re really looking forward to getting out with students more and hearing more opinions from students and turning that into something you can get to administration with the backing of the students,” he said.
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