Student government Vice President Jennifer Babos chaired Senate for the first time this semester Wednesday night but maintained that her executive role should take precedent over running Senate.
President Cooper Anderson addressed the Senate to discuss the controversy surrounding Babosâ€™s decision not to chair this year to focus on other vice presidential duties. He also encouraged the body to draft a resolution rewriting the constitution and Senate bylaws to clarify what her role should be.
â€œWeâ€™ll adhere to whatever they pass,â€ Anderson said, adding that Babos will chair Senate until the body passes legislation, unless he needs her for executive matters.
Babosâ€™s decision has raised questions from Senators and students as to whether or not she is doing the job she was elected to do by the student body and if her salary reflects her work.
Babos receives $7,250 from student fees for her term. The speaker pro tempore, who has been chairing Senate until now, receives $1,000.
Some senators remain disgruntled over the discussion and donâ€™t think their questions were answered.
â€œI donâ€™t think anything changed,â€ Senator Ben Weiner said. â€œThere were no new explanations. There has been talk of impeachment, with senators and students on the fence.”
â€œI hope so,â€ said graduate student Rich Guggenheim when asked if he thought Babos would face impeachment. â€œIf she wonâ€™t do her job, letâ€™s get someone who will.â€
But executives donâ€™t think it will come to impeachment and believe the open forum was a success in pushing Babosâ€™s message. Former presidential candidate Dave Ambrose said he heard Chief of Staff Nate Fielder shout, â€œYes, we won,â€ outside of the Senate Chambers after the discussion, an allegation Fielder denied.
â€œWe high-fived,â€ Fielder said. â€œI was excited for him. He proved himself as president tonight.â€
Babos said the speaker only chairs the meeting to facilitate a conversation and thinks if that is all she is there for she shouldnâ€™t be paid.
â€œIf youâ€™re paying me $7,250 to facilitate a conversation, you are highly overpaying me,â€ Babos said.
Babos said that instead of chairing Senate she spends the time doing more with her role than past vice presidents, including working with cabinet on the executiveâ€™s goals, working to develop personal relationships within ASCSU and having a monthly meeting with the administration to discuss interpersonal violence.
However, last yearâ€™s vice president Tim Hole said itâ€™s standard for vice presidents to meet with administrators monthly.
â€œI and every vice president before me had monthly meetings with the president of the university,â€ Hole said.
Anderson apologized for not coming to the Senate sooner with their decision.
â€œI went ahead with this decision with the best intentions,â€ Anderson said. â€œThis address got shuffled to the backburner â€¦ I own the fact that we werenâ€™t here earlier.â€
Citing specific articles of the constitution Anderson went on to say that he interpreted the constitution to mean that Babosâ€™s primary role as vice president is to assist the president in executive duties.
An explanation echoed by Babos.
â€œI think itâ€™s open to interpretation,â€ she said when asked what her role is.
The speaker pro tempore agreed and said she doesnâ€™t have a problem with chairing Senate.
â€œNo, I donâ€™t have a problem with it,â€ said Speaker Pro Tempore, Mary Peterson. â€œIâ€™m doing what my job says, right?â€
ASCSU Beat Reporter Jordyn Dahl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.