SA Senate elects new vice president

After a 2-month vacancy, Benjamin Harper fills the position

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The Student Association appointed a new SA vice president on Thursday, after the SA Senate approved current Director of Club Services Benjamin Harper to take over the role.

The position has been vacant since Feb. 2, when former Vice President Jamersin Redfern resigned after citing undisclosed family issues. A previous attempt at filling the role failed on Feb. 22, when the Senate voted down Samirra Felix, President Leslie Veloz’s nomination for vice president. Eleven senators voted in favor of Harper and four senators abstained.

Harper, a senior mechanical engineering major, couldn’t attend Thursday’s senate meeting because he was unable to get his lifeguarding shift covered, but communicated with the senate via phone call. Treasurer Janet Austin and Veloz nominated Harper and cited his two years of experience as the Director of Club Services and former experience as the president of the UB water polo club.

The voting process was noticeably quicker than the last attempt to fill the position. SA Senate Chair Devashish Agarwal said he believes Harper’s qualifications warranted a faster vote.

“The reason [the vote] was expedited is because Ben Harper is definitely very qualified,” Agarwal said. “So it was different from the last vice-presidential nominee [Felix] because she was completely new to everyone, so everyone needed more time to get to know her.”

Austin said she had originally been looking to appoint SA Vice President-elect Anyssa Evelyn to fill the role, but chose to appoint Harper with the support of Veloz based on Evelyn’s availability.

After the vote, Harper wrote in an email that he was “pleasantly surprised” when Veloz informed him about the nomination and appreciated the support from the senate and council coordinators.

“I’ve tried to work very hard for the SA and it just shows that people notice, which is nice,” Harper wrote.

Veloz, who wrote in an email that she’s “cut back on doing late night senate meetings,” after being involved in a car accident, said she couldn’t attend the senate meeting. She said she chose the candidate that could seamlessly transition into the position and has experience working with clubs.

“There are certain things that neither Janet or I can approve as president and treasurer. Having a new vice president will allow new clubs to get started before the semester is over.” Veloz wrote.

Austin said Harper will be paid “about $1,500” for his abbreviated tenure as vice president and she will appreciate the extra help.

“It’s honestly perfect timing because I’ve been doing outcall requests on top of everything else I do, which is a lot of work. ... So it will be nice to be able to pass [outcall requests] back to the vice president,” Austin said.

SA Senate also spent the last of their senate co-sponsorship budget after approving the Society of Automotive Engineers’ senate grant request of $1,500 for travel expenses to a Baja competition in Oregon and the badminton club’s senate grant request of $150 for new equipment.

The senate also derecognized the UB for Israel club and made the Badminton club permanent in the same meeting.

Haruka Kosugi is the assistant news editor and can be reached at haruka.kosugi@ubspectrum.com and @kosugispec.