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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

New Executive Branch Appointment Fuels Debate

With the resignation of former President Terral Ainooson, the Undergraduate Student Senate was thrust into an emergency session, with topics ranging from appointing a Vice President to the greater issue of raising turnout for the upcoming student election.

Then Vice President Neil MacInnes-Barker succeeded Ainooson’s president seat following the resignation. President MacInnes-Barker announced during an senate emergency session that, “it was announced Friday [February 19th] that he [Ainooson] was suspended…”

Ainooson served the campus community under multiple capacities, as Center Coordinator of Casa Latina, as chair of the Campus and Community Affairs, and most notably, as President.

The Office of the Dean of Students declined to comment.

President MacInnes-Barker was then tasked to nominate a Vice President to fill the then vacant seat. Senator Albert Chen was selected and confirmed during the emergency session. However, Chen briefly faced opposition from fellow senators.

The concerns of senators spanned from the issue of Chen’s relatively short term as a senator to criticisms of appointing an executive board member for an interim session of 3 weeks until the election and the issue of utilizing a broken system.

“I have to say, we have had a pretty broken system. It’s absurd to me that we haven’t had an election for the executive for the entire duration of the existence of student government at UMass Boston,” said Vice Speaker John Ward. “If we have pointed out an incredibly flawed system piece of this aspect of our government, why would we uphold it in further and distance ourselves from the student body by simply appointing for the sake of an interim government.”

President MacInnes-Barker responded to such comments, stating that this newest election format is merely a step to a creating a smooth running machine.

“I don’t see it as a broken government. I see it as a growing government. We’ve been progressing. This is a time right now in the interim and the most important things that the executive can do is keep it together.”

The emergency session continued, transforming into a discussion of the upcoming election. Vice Speaker Ward stressed the importance of sustaining representation among the senate.

“What I would challenge the executive to do, to make their number one priority, is to create as large as a popular election for the executive, as well as the senate, but particularly the executive because it is such an important position as we do not have thus far, an elected executive,” said Ward.

Raising turnout was also the general consensus among other senators.

“The issue of democracy? I was popularly elected by maybe no more than a hundred students. So if we are going to talk about the issue of democracy, we need to have actual voter representation. The point of right now is we are working towards an election,” said Senator Travis Henderson.

Furthermore, Senator Keith Raboin added that, “Elections typically hit 3%, which is abysmal. Our student government has not been successful until it can consistently hit 10%, which is our goal this year.”

The student government elections will be held from April 5 to 8. In addition to general senate seats, the president, vice president, and trustee seats will be contested. And with the election in the coming weeks, the challenge will not only be the competition among candidates, but with voting turnout.

“It’s a challenge to many campuses and a challenge at ours, but it isn’t one we can sit out. We can increase visibility, we can increase voter turnout and we can increase student involvement in their government. The key part is in what direction we go forward,” said MacInnes-Barker.

In regards to the appointment of Vice President Chen after the enduring debate, President MacInnes-Barker says he was satisfied.

“Clearly it was a success. It makes me feel really good about the senate’s confidence in my ability to lead and make a decision. And for potential opposition or what I may saw as a problem coming was; one was if we would make quorum. I felt a big portion of victory when I looked around and saw many senators. That to me was pleasing. I don’t see it as an obstacle, but I did expect a lot of debate, and I wanted a debate because I wanted everyone to have confidence in this man. I wanted him to be questioned. I wanted my judgment to be questioned.”

Davin Surin can be contacted at [email protected]