ASLC struggles to fill two empty senator positions

By Amelia Eichel

The Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) met on Jan. 25 to fill two senate seats vacated by students studying abroad.

This was not an ordinary ASLC meeting: cabinet members as well as the Chief of Staff were not present. The meeting was also closed off to the public.

“When we are deliberating on new candidates for Senate in the case of a selection process, we enter into an executive session whereby all of the cabinet exit the room,” ASLC Vice President Zack Johnson ’19 said.

Normally, ASLC would ask students to apply for open senate positions, but this spring there are only two spots open. According to the ASLC Constitution, senators may be chosen via executive session from a pool of previous applicants if there are fewer than three seats to fill. Under these circumstances, an ASLC election does not need to take place.  

“We did initially send out an email calling for people to apply to be Chief Justice and apply to be Senators,” ASLC Director of Elections Nora Maybury ’20 said. “So there were a few people who started applications before we decided to choose from the pool of applicants from the fall.”

There were nine eligible candidates to fill the vacant senate seats. However, only two replied when Johnson reached out to all of them by email.

Although there were two candidates under consideration for the two seats, any new senator must be confirmed by a simple majority of the Senate.

“We had 13 people in attendance and we didn’t reach that half margin for either of the two, meaning that neither can be confirmed,” Johnson said.

ASLC has two options moving forward: appoint at least one new senator at the beginning of the next ASLC meeting, or wait until there are at least three vacant seats and hold a campus-wide election.

Elections cost ASLC time and resources, including costs of $300 to $500 for adequate voting software.  ASLC wants to avoid such expenditures and Johnson is currently in conversation with the rest of the Cabinet to figure out how they might avoid such circumstances.  

ASLC’s original plan was to appoint two new senators and avoid an election. This has been complicated by the need to fill another seat: the Chief Justice. It was decided at a meeting on Jan. 22 that Senator Jacob Muscarella ’21 is the only candidate who fulfills the prerequisite of serving at least one semester on the Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Since Muscarella is a Senator, he must first vacate his seat to be appointed Chief Justice. If Muscarella vacates his seat before ASLC appoints two new senators, a campus-wide election will occur.

“At the moment, there are two open seats, but when I officially vacate my seat and become Chief Justice next Thursday (Feb. 1), there will be three open seats, triggering a special election per the Constitution,” Muscarella said over email. “It would be best if we could circumvent spending the amount of money and time it takes to go through a formal election, so we’re going to try to fill at least one empty seat on Thursday at the start of the Senate meeting before I vacate my seat.”

Update Feb. 6, 9:48 p.m.: Mikah Bertelmann ’21 and Ariel McGee ’21 were elected and sworn in to the Senate on Feb. 1. Muscarella vacated his senate seat and was officially sworn in as Chief Justice after the senators were chosen.

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