The Students’ Association senate adjourned last night without electing a speaker for the coming year. The speaker election is now scheduled for Monday’s meeting, when the 10 new senators elected yesterday will be part of the body.
The election was originally scheduled for Monday, April 1. That meeting would have included this year’s new senators, if the senate elections had occurred as scheduled between March 26 and March 28.
But when a ruling by the All-Campus Judicial Council caused the elections to be postponed to this week, a controversy erupted over whether outgoing senators should elect the new speaker.
Senior and SA President John LaBoda, who is a candidate for speaker, said that the old senate should not be the one that elects the speaker. “If elected speaker, I will resign once the new senate was voted in,” he said.
“I was pleased that we came to a resolution,” said senior and off-campus senator Ashley Conner, who is also a candidate for speaker. “Now we don’t have a cloud of controversy hanging over our heads.”
At Monday’s meeting, a motion to table the vote was defeated. But before the body could elect a speaker, Hill Court senators and seniors Pete Sanfacon and Sean Sullivan walked out in protest, leaving the senate with less than the 14 senators needed for quorum. Immediately after leaving the meeting, both senators walked over to and engaged in conversation with LaBoda.
Allegations of drinking alcoholic beverages during senate meetings have also been levelled by several senators at Sanfacon and Sullivan, including reports of alcohol being poured in the gallery during a recess in the meeting.
Senior and current speaker Bronwen Van Hooft said the original concerns about alcohol were mentioned after the March 25 senate meeting, and further concerns were brought up after the two senators walked out of Monday’s meeting. Sanfacon and Sullivan refused to comment.
Among the senators who voted last night to adjourn and let the new senate elect the speaker were Class of 2004 senator Ruthie Varkovitzky, Class of 2003 senator Lana Knox, sophomore and at-large senator Jack Collins and sophomore and Graduate Living Center Senator Eric Lunin.
However, during Monday’s meeting, Varkovitzy, Knox, Collins and Lunin voted against tabling the election, and to elect the speaker that night.
Part-time undergraduate and Senate Public Relations Committee Chairman Daryl DuLong said he disagreed with the inconsistency in those senators’ votes.
“However you voted on Monday, you should vote the same today,” DuLong said. “The senate didn’t properly adjourn its meeting on Monday, so technically the meeting didn’t end until the body voted to adjourn yesterday.”
“Various e-mails were sent, and I think they changed the minds of some of the senators,” DuLong said. “With e-mail there’s no face-to-face interaction. When someone speaks, you’re less inclined to buy into it.”
One e-mail sent regarding the speaker election was from LaBoda to the old senate, various candidates in the recent election, the Campus Times, and various other groups on campus, encouraging senators to not attend last night’s senate meeting, and to not elect the speaker until the new senators had taken their seats.
LaBoda said that the senate made the right decision. “They did the right thing,” he said. “The new senators will elect the speaker they will work with. There’s a 30-year precedent for that, and the original scheduling of the speaker election was intended to follow that precedent.”
Additional reporting by Tyler Berry and Todd Hildebrandt.