Saturday, September 24, 2022

SA pres. answers nepotism concerns

By Aleksandra Sidorova

The Student Association hosted an executive meeting Monday, Sept. 5, and a senate meeting Wednesday, Sept. 7. The meetings officially established the SA’s 60th legislation. 

Both meetings showed unanimous approval for the appointment of various adviser positions to the SA as a whole as well as individual coordinators and boards. Dispute arose when it came time to vote for Johann Silvanus assuming the position of chief justice, as recommended by SA President Taiba Azeem.

The chain of unanimous decisions was interrupted when Senator Nilay Vaidya expressed a concern for Silvanus’ ability to remain impartial. Vaidya alleged that Silvanus was the roommate of Azeem’s romantic partner, as well as their coworker in the Global Education Office, and thus may be biased in Azeem’s favor. 

“My job as chief justice will supersede any personal relationships,” Silvanus said in his defense.

When questioned by a fellow senator about his own bias due to knowing several SA members on a personal level, Vaidya said, “I would like to inform you that we were all elected to this position, not appointed.”

Therefore, she said, there is no conflict of interest.

Azeem denied allegations of nepotism in her choice to appoint Silvanus as chief justice.

“This discussion makes me happy because it shows the enthusiasm of the members of the senate, but it also makes me disheartened that the personal life of the president has been deemed important enough to be thrown out in public,” she said. “Mr. Silvanus and I are acquaintances at best. I do not need to clarify that because it is my personal life.”

Azeem said that she went through the process of scouting and reaching out to criminal justice professors, but applications for the position were “few and far in-between.” Silvanus reached out to Azeem because he knew the previous chief justice, Jacob Claypool, and was interested in the position. Azeem went through the interview process with Silvanus and determined he was “accountable and responsible,” hence fairly earning his appointment as chief justice.

Silvanus was approved as chief justice through a 9-3 vote and subsequently sworn in. When the SA meeting concluded, Vaidya apologized to Silvanus for “grilling” him during the meeting and congratulated him on his position.

Other topics discussed included the issue of low student involvement in the SA, introduced in the executive meeting. Jacob Avery, adviser to the executive council and the legislative review board, announced the steps the Center for Student Involvement will take to increase student interest in the organization. Avery said CSI would work to promote the SA through “every avenue possible:” social media, the student digest, posters with QR codes. He also encouraged SA coordinators to take measures to promote their respective boards. 

Coordinators said they would make an effort to attend club events to support student activities. The SA would also promote clubs and their activities on their Instagram page at club representatives’ requests. Coordinator of Arts Pilar Balader Herrero said a museum trip was in plans, and SA Vice President Saran Kaba set a goal of creating a “more positive image of the SA.”

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