Parliament seats remain vacant amid changes to legislative body

Bridget Warlea, senior legal studies major and Speaker Emeritus of Temple Student Government's Parliament, addresses parliament members and perspective members at Parliament's first meeting on Monday. | HANNAH BURNS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Half of Parliament’s seats are still vacant after the April election for the 2018-19 academic year. Of the 36 possible seats, 18 remain unfilled.

Interested students have submitted applications, but the seats are unable to be filled until they can be voted on by the Steering Committee — a branch of TSG that is not yet fully appointed.

Nancy Allen, who holds the newly created position Parliamentary counselor, said these vacancies exist not because of disinterest, but due to timing.

“We have plenty of applications, but we can’t fill seats until after Parliament starts,” Allen said. “It’s up to the Steering Committee to fill them.”

To become a member of Parliament, students must submit applications. Then, the Speaker of Parliament 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. The Steering Committee and the Speaker have yet to be appointed or elected to allow this process to begin.

Allen said she’d like to have the committee, made up of Parliament members, organized by Parliament’s second meeting on Sept. 24.

Freshman representatives Madison Okkerse and Salman Fayaz were announced Monday. These seats were elected by the freshman class through an online election, allowing them to bypass approval from the Steering Committee.

Parliament is undergoing several reforms under the new  TSG administration, like receiving independent funds and integrating the positions of parliamentarian and speaker of parliament into one role — speaker.

According to the constitution, the speaker will be responsible for appointing Parliament members to the Steering Committee. A speaker has not yet been elected for the 2018-19 year. 

“The election process [for Speaker] is just starting,” said Hailey McCormack, director of communications. “It’s the next big thing we’re working on. We’re here, school has started, and we need to get on top of it.”

Some members of Parliament, however, have a different take on the lag in progress.

Razin Karu, Transfer Student Representative and candidate for Speaker of Parliament, said time has already been wasted.

“Three weeks have been lost already,” he said. “Looking forward, I would want Parliament to elect the speaker before summer to get the ball rolling.”

The following 18 seats remain unfilled:

  • Greek Life
  • Athletics
  • Honors
  • LGBTQIA+ students
  • Residence Hall Association
  • College of Education
  • Fox School of Business
  • College of Public Health
  • Klein College
  • School of Social Work
  • Theater Film and Media Arts
  • School of Tourism and Hospitality Management
  • Tyler School of Art
  • Multicultural
  • Junior Representative
  • Three at-large seats

Greek Life and RHA representatives could not be chosen until Fall 2018, as internal operations in those organizations were not yet decided.

Despite delays in organization, McCormack said the reforms will have a positive effect.

“These changes are already making beneficial progress,” McCormack said. “We’re making a lot of changes, but we believe these changes will impact both TSG and the Temple community at large.”

Karu said the changes, while frustrating at times, will help Parliament be a more effective body.

“In the past, the Executive Branch treated Parliament as something that wasn’t important,” Karu added. “This year I think they’re treating Parliament as an organization that can produce tangible results.”

Blake Nutis
can be reached at blake.nutis@temple.edu. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews.

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