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Thursday, August 11, 2022
The independent student publication of The Unversity at Buffalo, since 1950

SA Assembly Approves Amendments; Tuttle Elected Speaker

After a first semester characterized by conflict and inactivity, the Student Association Assembly took its first step toward a fresh start Monday evening, passing three constitutional amendments and electing Jennifer Tuttle as speaker of the assembly.

SA Vice President Joshua Korman began the meeting by welcoming new members. There are a total of 56 students in the assembly this semester, although 21 were absent from Monday's meeting. By the end of last semester, the body had dwindled to a mere 14 members.

Korman encouraged the assembly members to make judgments about the student government based on their own observations, because other sources, such as former assembly speaker Robinson Iglesias, The Spectrum and even himself are all "very biased sources." Iglesias resigned as speaker Jan. 20.

"Look around, talk to people . if you really want to know how SA and student life are going, make those observations for yourself," said Korman. "That's the one source you can trust."

Two proposed amendment changes passed unanimously. The first eliminated two presidential cabinet positions, the director of student organizations and the director of external affairs.

According to Korman, the position of the director of student organizations was rendered obsolete by the creation of the clubs coordinators, who oversee the activities of different categories of clubs - academic, engineering, international, special interest, service and hobby and sports - and report their activities to the executive board.

The main responsibility of the external affairs director, according to the SA constitution, is to network with outside universities. New York State Student Assembly (NYSSA) delegates are more successful at this function with the added bonus of being student-elected officials, said Korman.

Korman also proposed an amendment that would move the date newly-elected e-board officers assume office to May 1, from the current date of April 1. Korman believes the later date would ease the transition between administrations and allow previous officers to follow through with events they had planned, the largest being Spring Fest, which traditionally takes place in April.

"[The change to May 1] just gives people a cushion so that people aren't thrown into running events that no one in that position could be qualified to run," said Korman. The amendment passed unanimously.

The amendment that stirred the most controversy involved making prospective SA presidents and vice presidents run on a single ticket. In previous years, Korman said conflicts between presidents and vice presidents elected from different parties often created major gridlock within student government, stifling productivity.

"[The president and vice president] spend a good portion of the year fighting each other and not getting anything done," he said. "What winds up happening is that the money doesn't get used and the people who paid the money don't really get to take advantage of it."

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Assemblyman Adam Waitzman feared the amendment would narrow students' election options to the point of suppressing dissenting views, adding that if a president and vice president are "not professional enough to work together in the first place, then maybe they should have never been elected."

"By putting people on one ticket and they do get elected, it means the other opinion will never be heard," Waitzman said. "If you diminish the number of candidates, you diminish the number of opinions that will be heard."

Waitzman resigned after Monday's meeting.

Amelia Moller, assembly member, disagreed, saying it is "absolutely essential" for presidents and vice presidents to run on the same ticket because they are "sharing the same ideas as to what they want to do for the year."

"Plain and simple, if you didn't like their ideas, you would never have voted for them," said Moller.

Assembly member Jonathon Katz noted that candidates running separately might be uncomfortable with the notion of being part of an executive board with whom they are unfamiliar.

"Running with people you know and that you're confident are competent . releases a lot of tension that would naturally come with the election," said Katz.

The amendment ultimately passed with only one dissenting vote.

The SA Senate will now consider all three amendments at its first meeting of the semester on Wednesday.

Following the approval of the amendments, Jennifer Tuttle, treasurer of the Political Science Undergraduate SA, defeated opponents Lorenzo Guzman, Dov Abraovsky, Matthew Albright and Ryan McGowen to become speaker of the assembly.

Tuttle, a sophomore and newcomer to the assembly, said she ran for speaker because she believes the assembly has "a tremendous amount of potential." Since UB has such a large student body, Tuttle said her biggest obstacle as speaker will be connecting with students and encouraging their participation in student government.

One of the ways Tuttle hopes to achieve this goal is to alter the assembly's page on the SA Web site to include information on the assembly's activities and the issues they are addressing, as well as a forum for students to air their concerns and give suggestions.

"I think we have a large responsibility to fix the damage that has been caused recently," said Tuttle. "We have to reach out and make [the assembly] whole again . not sit idly by in meetings."



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