Bradley Smutek, a junior history major, and Samantha Quinlan, a sophomore media studies and production major, were inaugurated as president and vice president, respectively, of Temple Student Government yesterday.
The Temple News spoke with RenewTU, the new executive team, and the incoming speaker of Parliament about plans for their administrations, initiatives, internal reforms and more in the coming academic year.
RenewTU and the five members of Parliament won their unopposed races with 139 total executive votes and 141 Parliament votes, respectively, after students voted on Temple’s online voting platform from April 6 to 8, The Temple News reported.
“We would have loved more participation of course, and we would have loved more competition, especially in the parliamentary elections, but aside from that we were really please with how the election went,” said William Boyer, a junior adult and organizational development major and RenewTU’s incoming chief of staff.
Townley Sorge, a junior public health major was inaugurated yesterday as the incoming speaker of Parliament.
Sorge, who is also the College of Public Health representative, and Manny Herrera, a freshman biochemistry major who is the vice speaker of Parliament and the second-year representative, were elected to their Parliament leadership roles on April 15, Sorge said.
Sorge was the only member of Parliament who ran for speaker, while three members of Parliament ran for vice speaker, she added.
The director of Parliament communications in the executive branch facilitates communication between Parliament and the executive branch, while the Parliament counselor, a member of TSG’s ethics board, acts as an advisor to Parliament, Sorge said.
RenewTU’s platform points are divided into three pillars: transform, amplify and overcome.
RenewTU believes that their platform points “meet the moment” by addressing COVID-19-related issues, students’ financial issues, mental health, racial injustice and police brutality, Smutek said.
RenewTU is proposing the addition of Wellness Days in each semester and a mental health response team, which would work separately from Temple police, according to the RenewTU website. RenewTU is also calling on the Board of Trustees to implement a tuition freeze for the 2021-22 academic year, Smutek wrote in an email to The Temple News.
RenewTU will also encourage Parliament to pass a resolution for the tuition freeze, Smutek said. Temple froze tuition for undergraduates and graduates for the 2020-21 academic year to ease student financial issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Temple News reported.
Parliament agrees with RenewTU’s plan to implement Wellness Days, Sorge said.
Temple canceled classes on Feb. 23 and March 24 this year to create two university-wide Wellness Days after the university canceled spring break to mitigate student travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RenewTU is also calling on Parliament to pass a resolution urging the university to continue a credit or no credit option for students each semester and establish an Americans with Disabilities Act task force, Smutek said.
While RenewTU hasn’t officially started on their campaign initiatives, they have begun discussing some of their plans with Temple’s administration, like expanding the Cherry Pantry and establishing the Cherry Wardrobe, where students can donate and purchase clothes at discounted prices with proceeds going to the Cherry Pantry, Smutek said.
“We want to make it so that these new administrations that will run, you know, will want to see that we’re putting in the work and we want to show how we’re doing it so that they will continue on, like our legacy,” Quinlan said.
Sorge wants to “rebrand” Parliament and increase student engagement by introducing office hours to students, she said.
Student voter turnout in Parliament elections has significantly declined since 2018, The Temple News reported.
Currently, the speaker of Parliament can appoint people to fill empty seats in Parliament, but Sorge wants to get rid of the appointment system and instead have candidates run for the empty seats in a fall special election, she said.
Interest in running for Parliament has remained low within recent years, as five unopposed candidates ran for seats in this year’s Parliament election and six unopposed candidates ran for seats in last year’s Parliament election, The Temple News reported.
Sorge also wants to improve the amount of resolutions Parliament passes by holding its members accountable for their work in subcommittees, where the body’s resolutions come from, she said.
Parliament will also continue to rewrite their bylaws, a continuation from this year’s Parliament leadership, Sorge said.
“[Parliament] needs to be more productive and it can be more productive, and so that’s why I think I place the importance on cooperating with Parliament, and with Townley, the incoming speaker,” Smutek said.
RenewTU is looking forward to making “tangible change” at the university, Smutek said.
“It’s going to be exciting to see RenewTU come together as a team and as a body that actually works to get things done,” Boyer said.
Editor’s note: Samantha Quinlan is a freelance reporter at The Temple News. She played no role in the writing or editing of this story.