After three representatives resigned from Parliament at the end of Fall 2017, 11 seats remain unfilled. Some positions have been empty since the start of the 2017-18 academic year, and some former members told The Temple News they think Parliament is ineffective.
Vacant seats include seats for Greek life, athletics, LGBTQ and honors. There are also vacancies in seats representing the College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts, College of Science and Technology and graduate students. Parliament also has openings for one freshman, one senior and one at-large representative.
Adam Frick, former senior class representative and member of the academic affairs committee, said he resigned because of a scheduling conflict, but he thinks Parliament is a “waste of time.”
“It didn’t seem like we accomplished anything, and it didn’t seem like people wanted to accomplish things,” Frick said. “It seemed like anything we did accomplish could have been done without Parliament.”
Pearl Joslyn, a former at-large representative and member of the local affairs and community committee, resigned because she couldn’t put enough time into Parliament.
“It took a long time to get stuff through, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the system,” Joslyn said. “I feel like I could get more stuff done on my own.”
Despite missing 30 percent of its intended representatives, Parliamentarian Jacob Kurtz said he believes Parliament can still function effectively.
“That’s smaller than we were, but we’ll be able to get resolutions passed and get work done moving forward,” Kurtz said. “I’ve never met a group of students who are so dedicated to something, or able to get through obstacles to complete goals.”
Joslyn said that representatives still serving on Parliament are capable of getting resolutions passed.
“I’ll definitely miss seeing all the people on Parliament and in TSG because they’re some of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met,” she said.
Last semester, Parliament passed one binding resolution, calling for the university to teach students to administer Narcan.
The efficacy of Parliament has been questioned in the past.
In October, The Temple News reported that the TSG constitution and Parliament bylaws do not have any measures in place about how to handle resolutions from previous semesters that have not been acted on. Passing resolutions is Parliament’s main responsibility, and in Spring 2017, Parliament passed six resolutions, and only a few were acted on at the end of that semester.
Speaker of Parliament Bridget Warlea told The Temple News that she was working on addressing past resolutions that had not come to fruition.
In November, members of Parliament spent nearly two weeks attempting to impeach each other, including a former representative who petitioned to impeach Kurtz. Leaders of Parliament planned conflict-resolution training following these disputes.
Kurtz hopes to have “a few more” representatives replaced by the end of February. TSG released a statement by Kurtz on Sunday which listed the vacant positions. Kurtz wants “to fill seats as quickly as constitutionally possible.”
To fill these seats, according to TSG’s constitution, Kurtz will contact the runner-up from the previous election and offer them the position. If the student is uninterested, or there is no runner-up, the Steering Committee will hold an open discussion with applicants and vote them into Parliament.
Although the Steering Committee removes the ability for constituents to directly vote for representatives, students can participate in open hearings and ask potential representatives questions.
“We do understand that for some of these seats, no one on the committee can speak for the groups that would be represented by these representatives,” Kurtz said. “We’ve held an open hearing successfully before, but not many students showed up.”
Frick said he never thought that Parliament representatives effectively provided a voice for their community.
“There was never really an instance when people proposed things because they were a certain [representative],” he said. “People didn’t really care about the groups they represented. Everyone just spoke their own thoughts.”
Applications to fill a seat in Parliament will be available by the end of the month.