The Students’ Association (SA) Senate selected a new speaker and deputy speaker for the 2013-14 school year. In a process that lasted over three hours, the Senate heard the candidates’ platforms, questioned them, and then discussed the candidates in executive sessions in which only the current and incumbent senators and current speaker and deputy speaker can be present.
Sophomore Aditi Simlote, who previously chaired the Policy & Review Committee, was selected as the uncontested Speaker of the Senate. Freshman Jessica Sheng, who serves as an aide on the Policy & Review Committee, was selected as Deputy Speaker of the Senate.
The Speaker of the Senate directs all proceedings at the Senate table during meetings and serves a mediating role, ensuring that all voices are heard. The Speaker does not vote.
Junior Shilpa Topudurti, the outgoing SA Speaker and SA President-elect, endorsed Simlote.
“I definitely think she’s one of the most qualified members of the [SA],” Topudurti said. “I think she’ll be a really valuable member of the executive team.”
In her statement to Senate, Simlote emphasized the potential she sees in the governing body.
“I think one of the things I learned [as Policy & Review Committee Chair] was how a body of 16 people can accomplish so much,” she said. “I feel ready to connect them to the resources and support they need to complete the things they’re passionate about.”
Following a round of questions from the senators, the Senate held an executive session that lasted for approximately 40 minutes.
Although she couldn’t comment on the Senate’s discussion during the session, Topudurti explained the significance of the selection.
“It’s honestly one of the most important selections that we make,” Topudurti said. “It’s really a time for us to put all our concerns and thoughts on the table. I really want to make sure that everyone is heard. We want to make sure that we’re very thorough in what we’re doing.” Topudurti also approved of Sheng’s selection.
“I think the most important part about being a deputy is being reliable, and I know that what [Sheng’s] shown on her committee is that reliability,” Topudurti said. “I think the fact that [Simlote] and her have a working relationship right now will be beneficial to the table.”
Like Simlote, Sheng has not previously served in Senate.
“Seeing the scope of senate and what senators and student government can do, I’ve become eager to get even more involved in Senate,” Sheng said during her opening statement. “You are the eyes and the ears of the Senate. You see what’s on the table and assist the speaker in making sure that the senators are on task and make sure that the senators are on task and being receptive to each other.”
The election for deputy speaker was contested by freshman and current senator Anthony Salazar and freshman Matt Lerner. Topudurti was pleased that this position was contested.
“We had three really strong candidates,” she said. “I think it fosters… a little more initiative on the candidates’ part.”
In interviews following their selection, both Simlote and Sheng commented on the collaborative team they will form in the coming year.
After serving together on the Policy & Review Committee, they are familiar with each other’s working styles, ensuring a fluid transition into the academic year. According to Simlote, they approach issues from different angles.
“I think going in already knowing each other will be helpful because we’ve already seen each other’s thinking patterns,” Simlote said. “We can help each other and push each other to have a dynamic conversation.”
Simlote emphasized the important link between the student body and the administration that Senate serves.
“The Senate has been really starting to do a lot on this campus,” Simlote said. “They’ve been doing a lot on their committees and individually. If you have engaged and passionate senators you can really demonstrate that the [SA] is there for the students.”
Sheng was eager to reemphasize the role of Senate in bridging communication between the students and administration.
“As a Policy & Review Committee aide I’ve been exposed to all the Senate can do,” she said.
Remus is a member of
the class of 2016.