Parliament, the representative body of Temple Student Government that was created at the beginning of last school year, is preparing for its second semester in session ever.
Parliamentarian Jacob Kurtz, who is responsible for ensuring Parliament follows its bylaws, is training new representatives for their first official meeting on Sept. 18, when they will elect the Speaker of the Parliament.
The Speaker is responsible for making sure that debates in Parliament are orderly and follow the guidelines in the bylaws, like following the set speaking limits and maintaining the correct speaking order. The Speaker also appoints committees and sets each meeting’s agenda.
Parliament has not established this year’s committees, which will take on issues that affect student life, because a Speaker must be elected first. An emeritus steering committee, comprised of last semester’s committee chairs, has been appointing Parliament members during the summer to seats that have remained open, like for the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts and the College of Engineering, after students applied.
Committees will be formed after the Speaker’s election on Sept. 18. They vary from Academic Affairs to Student Life to Wellness, among others.
Freshman elections were originally scheduled for last weekend but were pushed back a week because Computer Services was unable to provide an updated list of all registered students, which made it impossible for the Elections Committee to determine if all candidates were eligible for the seats.
There are four vacant seats left in Parliament: transfer, graduate, Fox School of Business and athletics. Kurtz said he is waiting until a new steering committee is established to focus on filling those seats, but won’t begin until after current Parliament members are trained.
“It’s somewhat unfortunate because these seats won’t be filled in time for those students to become committee chairs, but they’ll still be able to represent the student body in their individual capacity,” he said.
Parliament cannot hold another election to fill seats that were left vacant after yearly Parliament elections in the spring, according to its constitution. But Kurtz is trying to keep students involved in the selection of their representatives, while still maintaining the appointment process set forth in the Constitution. An open hearing for students to submit questions for representatives is one possibility, he said.
Kurtz plans to use his previous experience as the Tyler School of Art representative to address aspects of Parliament’s inner functions that weren’t well-explained to members.
“I want to make sure that, right off the bat, Parliament members know who the [executive] directors are and the aspects of campus that they direct,” he said.
“The Speaker and I will be very meticulous about what gets on the agenda and what doesn’t,” Kurtz added. “If there is a resolution that comes down the line that is not constitutional, we won’t allow it to the agenda until I meet with the Parliament member and we figure out how to make it constitutional.”
The feasibility of each resolution will also be evaluated before it is put on the agenda.
“That’s not to say that the Speaker and I will be teaming up and blocking a whole bunch of stuff on the agenda,” Kurtz said. “We’ll be checking each other and working with the representatives who are bringing these resolutions forward.”
If representatives feel they need another voice involved in this process, Kurtz will include Auditor General Morrease Leftwich in discussions.
Mandatory attendance at committee meetings was not strictly enforced last semester, Kurtz added. This semester, attendance sheets will be passed around to ensure that committees will have the minimum amount of members present to vote on resolutions.
“Hopefully, from these changes, people can expect a more effective legislative body,” Kurtz said.