Mahreen Ansari became the new Student Government Association (SGA) president on Monday evening at the last student senate meeting of the semester.
SGA Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Higginbotham swore in Ansari at the start of the meeting. Ansari was the vice president and now enters the position following former President Brandon Henderson’s resignation.
“I am so excited and so ready to take on being president of SGA and doing my best to represent the needs and the wants of the students,” Ansari said, “I am excited for the upcoming semester with you all.”
Henderson, who resigned due to mental and physical health issues, recently shared his parting advice and words of encouragement for the newly appointed president.
“I’m very confident that she has what it takes to do this job,” he said, “I would always just say, you know, make sure you keep stuff in perspective. You don’t have to sacrifice yourself to serve students. Honestly, I don’t really think she needs that advice. I think she’s here to do a great job.”
Ansari then nominated SGA Chief of Staff Daphne Posadas to fill the newly vacant position of vice president.
Posadas was previously an RA and an orientation leader. She was also appointed as the SGA Chief of Staff by previous SGA President Brandon Henderon, and she ran for president in the last student government election.
Student Senator Trenton Garza quickly offered a point of order, citing that the Internal Affairs Committee should have interviews with vice presidential nominees, according to the SGA Constitution.
The section of the constitution Garza referenced, Article III: Section 12, describes the duties of the Internal Affairs Committee. One duty listed is to interview all nominees for SGA positions that require a senate confirmation.
Speaker Caroline Moriarty rebutted the point of order, citing Article II: Section 14, which states that “If a vacancy occurs in the Office of the President, the Vice President shall become the President. The new President shall then appoint a Vice President subject to the Student Senate’s approval by a three-fourths (3/4) vote.”
Moriarty offered to allow questions for Posadas as a compromise. Members of the Student Senate were quick to field questions on Posadas and Ansari’s working relationship and future plans.
“Do you find that your ability to work with Mahreen would be positive?” Student Senator Alec Hartley asked. “Do you have the same goals?”
Posadas described her relationship with Ansari as their previous RA, and she explained how they have worked on numerous projects on the SGA Exec Board. In response to another question, Ansari explained the reasons they chose Posadas to fill the position.
“She knows what she’s doing,” Ansari said. “She ran for president because she has had all of these positions on campus. As chief of staff, in her current position, she has done a good job.”
Posadas stated that her plans as vice president include restructuring executive duties to reduce the presidential responsibilities and prevent burnout as well as gathering more opinions from students about actions the executive branch should take.
She also mentioned plans to address reduced student involvement and create a tighter-knit SGA where all members feel more comfortable speaking.
Closing out the period of questioning, SGA Comptroller Kole Keeney spoke in support of Posadas.
“At the beginning, I didn’t like Daphne,” he said, “That was all based on hearsay. Once I actually got to know Daphne and how much she actually cares about students, it’s incredible.”
“We’ve been very lucky to have her on the team,” Keeney said.
The student senate voted 26-1 to approve and appoint Daphne Posadas to the position of vice president. Student Senator Garza cast the only vote against the appointment.
“I voted nay because the confirmation vote conducted was an improper and unconstitutional act because it blatantly ignored the processes provided under the constitution.” Garza said, “I have no personal objections to Daphne. This was about process.”
Chief Justice Higginbotham then swore in Posadas as the new SGA vice president.
“I am very excited to work with Mahreen more directly. I feel empowered to have two first-generation minority womxn in positions to be a voice for all Roos,” Posadas said, “Brandon was a great mentor for all of the Exec Board, so I am confident that my addition as VP will propel all of us forward.”
Speaker Moriarty continued the meeting, addressing the SGA’s priorities for next semester. These included establishing an advisory committee for members of student organizations, reviving the counseling referendum that was rejected last semester and increasing the number of student senators who author resolutions.
The student senate then took up debate on SR 5, a bill urging the university to provide free coronavirus testing for students and to make accommodations for student employees to work online if they have to quarantine.
After close to twenty minutes of debate, the senate voted not to pass the bill.