Temple University Student Government has added 20 new representatives to Parliament, TSG’s legislative body, after holding elections for vacant seats in a Sept. 9 election. A month after the election, Parliament leadership said the increase in participation is making it easier for the body to work on resolutions and allows for more discussion between members with different perspectives.
“Building resolutions is a teamwork process and it wasn’t very feasible with only five people,” said Townley Sorge, the speaker of Parliament, a senior public health major and the College of Public Health Parliament representative.
Out of 11 races in Parliament’s September election, only five had candidates that ran unopposed, according to the TSG Instagram.
Temple students who ran in the September Parliament’s September race were elected to different areas of representation, like class and college representatives, Sorge said.
In addition to these new seats, TSG has added interest-based seats to Parliament, which represent graduate students, commuters, transfer students, honors students, international students, multicultural students and students who identify as LGBT, Sorge said.
Parliament saw an increase in candidates this year because Sorge and previous Parliament members reached out to students through social media, in-person interaction and at Templefest, she said.
Five candidates won and ran unopposed in the April 2021 Parliament election and won, The Temple News reported.
“I don’t think by any means has Temple been in a deficit of people that are interested about making change, we just haven’t been reaching them,” Sorge said.
Parliament, now with 25 total members, has established its steering committee, which is composed of Parliament leadership and is a communication channel between the Parliament speaker, vice speaker and subcommittees. The steering committee is in the process of discussing ideas for resolutions, Sorge said.
Parliament is currently working on a resolution for people with disabilities, which ensures that the activation buttons on automatic doors function properly. The resolution was recently pitched to TSG and is currently in the research phase of its creation, Sorge wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Reaching out to students with disabilities for input is important so they can be involved in the resolution process, Sorge said.
“Parliament’s responsibility is to represent our peers and address issues that students bring to us,” Sorge said.
Kendall Stephens, an at-large-representative and a senior public health and social work major, believes that she is someone the student body can speak through to address issues and concerns they may have, she said.
Stephens does not want to lower tuition differentials between in-state and out-of-state students, she said
As a part of its Owls on the Hill Program, some TSG members are working as student lobbyists at the state capitol in Harrisburg to advocate against the elimination of tuition differentials, differences between in-state and out-of-state tuition, that create or worsen significant financial barriers for students, especially marginalized students, Stephens said.
In years past, most resolutions are passed within a month, but since this Parliament is newly elected, there is not a definite timeline for how long a resolution might take since they have not passed one this academic year, said Rosalee Banks, the junior class representative and a junior criminal justice major.
In August, Sorge said she wanted to pass 10 to 12 resolutions this year, The Temple News reported. She’s still aiming for that goal because she believes this year’s parliamentarians are eager to make changes.
The process of creating a resolution includes formally outlining the process of change including who to contact and how much it would cost Temple to enact the changes, which is then submitted to the university administration for approval once completed.
Parliament passed a piece of legislation last year enacting a pass/fail grading option for the Fall 2020 semester, Sorge said.
Members are also reaching out to the student body, with the Good Morning Commuters initiative where two representatives from Parliament sit outside the Bell Tower to speak to and greet commuters getting off the regional rail trains to gather ideas for possible future resolutions, Sorge said.
Sorge hopes that the surge in freshman parliamentarians will lead to more returning members of the legislative body next year, Sorge said.
“It’s very important that we put our differences aside and be able to speak with stability, you know, and with purpose and intention,” Stephens said. “I think that if we are able to do that, then the sky’s the limit of what we are able to do.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misreported Kendall Stephens’ stance on tuition differentials between in-state and out-of state students. Stephens does not want to lower tuition differentials between in-state and out-of state students.