Parliament charts semester goals as classes move online

Issa Kabeer, speaker of Parliament, hopes to pass resolutions that make a “real difference.”

Issa Kabeer, an second-year diversity and leadership graduate certificate student and Speaker of Parliament, sits on a bench on Polett Walk on Sept. 4. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

This year, Temple University Student Government’s Parliament filled its appointed seats before the semester started for the first time in its history. 

Now, it looks toward training new members and passing its first resolutions, said Issa Kabeer, a seventh-year graduate student pursuing a diversity leadership graduate certificate and speaker of Parliament.

On Sept. 3, Temple moved classes online for the rest of the fall semester after the university reported 212 COVID-19 cases, The Temple News reported

TSG had already called for the university to switch to online classes on Aug. 21, The Temple News reported.

“I think it’s really good to have [classes] online to protect the students and protect the student body and the staff,” Kabeer said. 

With classes online for the rest of the semester, Parliament will focus on accommodations for students in residence halls and ensuring students get the best education possible under the circumstances, Kabeer said. 

Parliament, which is onboarding new members, hopes to start passing resolutions, beginning with a disabilities resolution and a food insecurity resolution, in two weeks to a month, after the new members are trained in resolution composition, Kabeer said. 

“We’re not just passing resolutions to pass them,” he added. “We want to make real change and a real difference on campus, particularly at this moment in time, in this very difficult situation that we’re in.”

Only six of Parliament’s 30 seats were elected in April, and all six candidates ran unopposed. The other seats were appointed, said Jewel Thomas, a junior political science major and the junior class representative and secretary of Parliament. 

They’ve faced challenges with communicating while running meetings through Zoom, instead of in person, especially in training new members, Thomas said. 

“The process of onboarding is actually super messy right now,” Thomas said. “There’s not really a set schedule or anything.”

Parliament usually holds a retreat at the beginning of the semester to teach new members how to write resolutions, Kabeer said. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, that won’t be possible, so Kabeer and other returning members will have to hold resolution-writing classes over Zoom, Kabeer said. 

Parliament members hope to increase communication between Parliament and the Executive Branch, Kabeer said. 

“We’re not just working as independent entities,” Kabeer said. “We’re working as a team . . . I go to all the senior leadership meetings . . . So we can make sure our [resolutions] are legal.”

TSG needs to improve communication with the North Central community, said Jonathan Atiencia, Parliament’s disability resources and services representative. 

“We need to listen and walk with the community of Philly to know that we can have a good partnership and relationship,” said Atiencia, a sophomore communication and social influence major.

Atiencia is surveying students on their mental health, learning accommodations and Temple’s support plan during the COVID-19 pandemic with Temple’s Disability Resources and Services, which will become a parliamentary resolution.

Thomas is hoping to pass resolutions that help the North Central community, specifically, one that would ensure Temple’s extra dining hall food supplies be donated to a local food pantry or soup kitchen, she said.

“Success would be helping as many people as we can,” Thomas said. “And not let [the] politics of student government get in the way of making an important change in our community.” 

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