Temple Parliament starts the year with low participation

The Parliament speaker hopes that there will be more members after the early September election.

Townley Sorge, senior public health major, prepares notes for the upcoming parliament meeting. | AMBER RITSON / THE TEMPLE NEWS

This year, Parliament, the legislative branch of Temple University’s Student Government, plans to pass several resolutions during their term, despite only filling five out of 30 seats in this past April’s election. 

Townley Sorge, the speaker of Parliament and senior public health major, wants to pass 10 to 12 resolutions in the next two semesters during her tenure, she said. She hopes that once each subcommittee is chosen during their first meeting of the academic year on Sept. 20, they pass at least one resolution per semester. 

At its first meeting of the legislative body last April, Parliament members expressed interest in drafting legislation to address mental health, diversity and inclusion, and Asian American and Pacific Islander hate crimes, as well as creating a campus-wide, single-use plastic ban. 

Despite a low turnout for Parliament’s first election, 15 new candidates submitted applications to run in the second election, which will be held on Sept. 8 and 9. Typically, the September election is solely to choose a freshman representative, but this cycle all candidates are eligible to run due to a record-low number ofapplicants. 

Last year’s Parliament leadership discussed holding a special election alongside the freshman representative election in the fallwo to fill remaining seats in Parliament, as opposed to appointing students, The Temple News reported.

“It definitely creates challenges when getting ideas or resolutions,” Sorge said. “But I will say that with only five people, things are always easier to do when you have a smaller group, but it’s definitely tough not having more people to come up with more ideas.”

Emily Loehmer, TSG’s chief of internal services officer and a senior secondary education major, believes that there is low participation in Parliament, because not enough students know about Parliament or its purpose, she said.

“I’m really excited about this coming year because after Templefest, our applications for this year’s Parliament jumped up astronomically,” Loehmer said. 

There are roughly 20 applications in total for the upcoming fall election for Parliament seats, Loehmer said. 

Votes for Parliament candidates have decreased significantly since 2018, with 3,556 votes cast for Parliament candidates in 2018, 2,331 in 2019, 252 in 2020 and 141 in 2021, The Temple News reported

Manny Herrera, the vice speaker of Parliament and a sophomore biochemistry major, is finally getting used to his role in Parliament, despite a lack of support from leadership in the last year, he said. Now that he is preparing for his second administration, he is tasked with teaching the incoming Parliamentarians how to write resolutions.

The executive branch of TSG has often worked independently from Parliament in years past, but Sorge hopes that increasing communication between branches and hosting a town hall with both executive and Parliament members will drive more productivity in student government. 

The executive branch is excited to collaborate with Parliament on ideas and resolutions,” Loehmer said.

Last April, Parliament passed its first resolution within days of inauguration, calling on Temple to implement another tuition freeze this academic year. On July 6, the Board approved the first budget increase since the 2018-19 school year, which added 2.5 percent to in-state and out-of-state tuition, The Temple News reported

“I’m personally disappointed,” Sorge said. “I thought it would have been good for students because COVID has been so rough financially for so many people, and college is becoming more and more unaffordable.”

Sorge also emphasized the importance of strong and organized leaders in Parliament as the driving force behind the group’s productivity. 

“As of right now, everything is getting set up for Parliament to be very successful and pass a lot of resolutions to hopefully better the experience of Temple students,” Sorge said.

Parliament elects several members to represent different populations of Temple students. Kyle Sheaff, the Disability Resources and Services Representative, is proud to reflect the needs of his community in Parliament. 

“I’m looking forward to helping out with Temple students and planning fun activities,” Sheaff said. “I would like to be present to other Temple students.”

Despite some setbacks in passing resolutions and considering the low turnout for candidates and voters in the past election, Sorge believes Parliament’s active presence in the Temple community will make a difference in TSG participation, she said. 

“If people know that we can do something, and they know what we’ve done, that would be really good for getting students to hear about us,” Sorge said.

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