Parliament election only fills half of possible seats

Only 16 of 32 seats were filled for Temple Student Government’s representative body for the 2018-19 academic year.

Only 16 students were elected to Temple Student Government’s Parliament — a body which meant to have 36 members — for the 2018-19 academic year.

There were 19 students who ran for the 32 open seats, and all but three were unopposed on the ticket for the April 4 and 5 election. The Residence Hall Association, Greek life and two freshman seats cannot be filled until Fall 2018, because leaders in RHA and Greek life are not yet chosen and freshman students have yet to move to campus.

Parliamentarian Jacob Kurtz said the representative body is still accepting applications, and he has received four from students since the election.

Once the representative body accepts applications for the open seats, the Parliamentarian interviews and approves a candidate. The candidate will then present to the Steering Committee, which will vote on whether that student should become a member.

Elections Commissioner Daritza Santana said she tried to recruit students to join Parliament by advertising in her classes and inviting current Parliament members to run again.

“It’s hard,” she said. “It was a lot of trying to make people understand that both executive campaigns want to make Parliament more independent and effective.”

Kurtz said he had worked with former Elections Commissioner Matthew Diamond to create a plan to promote Parliament to students who do not usually get involved with TSG, but those plans could not come to fruition due to poor timing. Diamond resigned two weeks before the election amid conflict with the TSG’s Senior Leadership Team, which tried to impeach him.

“Unfortunately, it was a mix of [Diamond] leaving, and the time crunch we were all under, as well as me being a prominent member of a campaign,” said Kurtz, who was on the operations team for VoiceTU, the runner-up in the Executive Branch election.

Kurtz said he thinks many students are unaware Parliament exists.

“There is somewhat weak promotion of Parliament throughout the year,” Kurtz said. “The constant negative image in the news and the lack of promotion from TSG has come together and made people think, ‘Why would I do that?’”

This academic year, Parliament has passed two binding resolutions and seven non-binding resolutions. These span from supporting refugee students to increasing Narcan training and addiction education on Main Campus.

Current Klein College of Media and Communication seat Kaya Jones said she thinks Parliament is important because it gives students an opportunity to make change and represent a group of students. Jones wrote and passed a resolution to create a women’s center on campus.

“Parliament is important just like state representatives are important,” she added. “They represent the people and their opinions. Temple needs this strong direct democracy.”

Luke Tomczuk, the disability resources and services representative said although Parliament has struggled with infighting and communication issues, there is potential for it to be great.

“We need to work harder with the directors and the Senior Leadership Team,” Tomczuk said. “A better connection between Parliament and the executive team will really allow Parliament to bloom.”

IgniteTU, the incoming administration, ran on a platform that promised to make Parliament more independent by giving it its own budget. Parliament currently has access to the Executive Branch’s budget now, but this will allow Parliament to work on resolutions they’ve passed with less involvement from the executive team.

“The incoming administration really cares about Parliament,” Kurtz said. “We all agree it can do a lot of good, and we’re going to work together to make it better.”

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