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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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February 20, 2024
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February 12, 2024

By Appointment Only

New UMB Student Senate members (L to R)

New UMB Student Senate members (L to R)

Five new people were named to the UMass Boston Student Senate last week, but you might not have noticed since you did not elect them. Instead they were selected for their posts in a special election vote from the 25 remaining members of senate.

This special election was held on Feb. 21, after five student senators resigned their posts after the fall 2006 semester. Student Senate made their decisions to fill the five spots, not through general elections from the entire student body, but based solely on two-minute speeches given by 12 candidates as part of the standard procedure in special elections. Likewise, in the not too distant past, another special election was held last fall to replace another five senators who withdrew after the end of the summer term.

Student Senate President Michael Metzger clarifies why this procedure is not entirely new to the UMass system, and that it in fact is central to the Student Senate’s election procedures.

“The decision was whether or not to have special elections at all,” Metzger said. “General elections are held annually, and there is a very specific definition of what that is in the bylaws, so to go through that procedure for these kinds of things is very difficult, and that has been the typical precedent. The decision has always been yes to special elections, or we won’t fill the seats at all. And that was an executive committee decision.”

The last general elections were held on April 18-20, 2006 and called for a majority vote from the student body, however only seven percent of the student body turned out for election day.

What this means is that seven percent of the student body voted in 30 senators last spring. Five of those 30 then withdrew from Senate before the fall semester even began. The remaining 25 student senators filled those vacant seats by appointing five new members in a process very similar to the one seen last week, when the Senate based their choices off of two-minute speeches. Now another five students were appointed to senate after the current semester’s resignations.

The current Senate is comprised of 20 senators remaining from the original thirty elected in the student body’s general elections. This means that the 10 remaining senators appointed this past year were not elected by the student population, but appointed by the remaining 20 senators, now accounting for 33 percent of the student body’s representation.

New appointees to the Senate include Terral Ainooson from the College of Liberal Arts, Nathan Spencer in CPCS, Jose Amado of the College of Science and Mathematics, Marc Joseph from CLA, and Ali al-Sabbagh of CLA.

Jose Amado, a sophomore chemical engineering major, refers to his relationships with other members in the Senate as a major factor in his running, as well as his having been elected. “I knew some people on it, and I just heard that it would be a good experience,” Amado said.

Ali al-Sabbagh, a second semester sophmore at UMass Boston, prides himself at having achieved what he considers to be a distinguished place within the UMass Boston community.

“I am very excited to know that my peers respect me enough to elect me into a position that is looked so highly upon,” al-Sabbagh said. “Hopefully I will be able to tend to the position with respect, and do my best.”

The candidates’ speeches were delivered after Senate conducted their meeting in the usual fashion: taking roll call, approving the prior meeting’s minutes, approving agendas, hearing officer reports and discussing new business.

The special elections were called for after the posts were left vacant after the fall semester by Shawn Engel, Taylor Fife, Spencer Lewis, Stacey Schwartz, and Misha Sidorsky. Reasons for resignations ranged from one senator who thought he graduated, to another who had a schedule conflict between the Student Senate and his other job.

Metzger feels that the newly appointed senators will do well to represent the student body, and that the special election itself shows the kind of success that can come from Special Elections.

“Each of the candidates was well qualified,” Metzger said. “It is a testament to the hard work of those who put together this round of special elections. Individually, the five new senators, all show incredible potential, are very eager to get down to work and bring to the table new perspectives.”