Miami University’s Associated Student Government (ASG) held elections for four executive cabinet positions and passed a bill delaying elections for off-campus and academic senators at its April 21 meeting.
Currently, ASG bylaws state elections for off-campus senators must be held during the last eight weeks of the spring semester, while elections for academic senators must be held during the first four weeks of the fall semester.
Parliamentarian Cole Hankins and On-Campus Senator Adam Weiss proposed a bill that would allow the speaker of senate to hold elections for academic senators after the first four weeks of the fall semester. The bill would also allow elections for off-campus senators to take place at any point next fall before the end of on-campus senator elections.
Hankins said this change was necessary because it would be difficult for ASG to recruit potential candidates during this period of remote learning. He also expressed concern about low voter turnout, citing the 58 percent decrease in voter turnout in this year’s student body president election, presumably a consequence of far fewer students being on campus than usual.
“When we only have 300, 400 or 500 people voting in an off-campus senator election, that’s not a democratic outcome, and it’s not an outcome that allows for competent representation,” Hankins said. “And we just can’t afford to have anything less than the best representation next year.”
In response to a question from College of Arts and Science Senator Lauren Dopeke, Hankins also said the academic senators from this year will technically retain their positions until another election is held and they are replaced, so there will not be vacancies in these positions during the first four weeks of the fall semester before elections are held.
The bill passed with 33 yeas and one nay.
Senate then held elections for the positions of speaker of senate, secretary for communications and media relations, secretary for safety and secretary for off-campus affairs.
Speaker Pro Tempore Victoria Villanueva and Off-Campus Senator Reena Murphy ran for the position of speaker of senate.
Villanueva said, if elected, she would work to improve communication between the executive cabinet and senate by creating an ASG Canvas page and holding a retreat at the beginning of the school year. She also said she would lead a “diverse marketing campaign” to attract students with underrepresented identities to ASG.
Murphy, who currently serves as the president of the National Residence Hall Honorary, said she felt qualified for the role of speaker because she has experience with overseeing elections and conflict resolution. She said that, if elected, she would encourage greater collaboration between senate and different administrative committees and organizations.
Murphy was elected as the next speaker of senate.
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Junior Megan Chunias, sophomore Hoa Doan, College of Arts and Science Senator Omar Elghazawi and sophomore Shriya Patel ran for the position of secretary for communications and media relations.
Chunias said she would use the position to improve ASG’s social media presence, including using platforms like Instagram to highlight new legislation passed by senate.
Doan, an international student from Vietnam, expressed interest in bridging the gap between senate and international students by publicizing resources ASG offers to these students.
Elghazawi highlighted his experience as a member of ASG’s communications committee and as communications director of Miami’s College Democrats. He was also the only current ASG member to run for the position.
Patel said her lack of experience in ASG would benefit her in the position because she would bring in an “outsider’s” perspective.
Senate elected Chunias to the position.
Junior Izzy Arbetter and incumbent Secretary for Safety Ben Mitsch ran for the position of secretary for safety.
Arbetter served as an off-campus senator for two semesters but was not involved with ASG this semester because she was studying abroad. If elected, she pledged to conduct a sidewalk and lighting audit both on and off-campus, create a COVID-19 wellness campaign and improve accessibility on campus.
Mitsch said he hoped to focus more on preventing sexual and interpersonal violence on campus, as he felt he didn’t address the issue enough during his first term as secretary for safety. He also said he’d ensure vending machines containing health and hygiene products would be placed throughout campus.
Senate voted no confidence for both candidates, so another election for the position will be held at a later date.
Off-Campus Senator Megan Hess ran unopposed for the position of secretary for off-campus affairs.
Hess said, if elected, she would actively advocate for renters’ rights for students and an increased number of hybrid classes. Senate elected her to the position.
College of Education, Health and Society Senator Kelsey Bittel was scheduled to run unopposed for the position of secretary for academic affairs, but her presentation was pushed to next week because the meeting had already been in session for nearly six hours.