The Simmons-Weinkauf administration saw its first Washburn Student Government Association Senate meeting Wednesday, April 12, where the new administration formally assumed its position, and the Senate held discussion and votes on the various executive staff nominees presented by Simmons-Weinkauf.
Newly elected president Alexis Simmons was not present due to a trip to Cuba, and vice president Scott Weinkauf took her place conducting the meeting.
Seven positions saw hearings on nominations: Meagan Borth for Chief of Staff, Zac Surritt for Budget Director, Natasha Martinez for Research and Legislative Director, Katie Wade for Public Relations Director, Erasmo Nunez for Campus and Community Affairs Director, Zach King for Special Events Director and Jack Siebert for Administrative Assistant.
Concerns were raised by senators regarding the appointment of Borth and Martinez. Traevor McPherson, Speaker Pro Tempore for the Senate, stressed the importance of carefully considering the nominees as they are paid positions funded with student money.
“At the end of the day, these are all people that we know,” McPherson said. “I’d hope most of the students know we’re here to serve, and the fact of the matter is the Senate has the duty to make sure the people appointed [perform adequately].”
Borth was also in Cuba and not present for the meeting. Senator Caleb Soliday moved to table her nomination until April 19 when she would be present, but the motion failed.
Sen. Surritt, confirmed as Budget Director, said that the concerns raised focused on professional issues and not personal ones.
“The Senate did not feel Meagan could fulfill all of the duties and responsibilities of the Chief of Staff based on her previous experiences inside and out of WSGA,” Surritt said. “Points were raised that she did not have the proper temperament, organizational skills, or approachability to serve the students in that role.”
McPherson said that the vote on Borth’s appointment had 20 against it, one for, and three abstaining. Borth gave a statement regarding her blocked appointment.
“I have served in many capacities through student government and I have the most experience of not only everyone who applied for executive staff but also every single person that is a part of WSGA currently,” Borth said. “The Senate chose to vote the bill down instead of giving myself or President Simmons the chance to defend or explain [our ideas for WSGA].”
Surritt also mentioned the concerns raised on Martinez’s appointment.
“It was pointed out that Natasha Martinez will not be able to stay in WSGA all year and that she would be leaving us after the fall 2017 semester,” Surritt said. “The Senate still believed that she could serve the students well in the time she has, and sometime in November the administration will hire a replacement to shadow her.”
Now that the Chief of Staff position is open, Surritt expressed interest in applying for the position.
“It was actually the position I most wanted when I applied, but they felt I could also do well as Budget Director,” Surritt said. “What I’m hoping happens is that I get the Chief of Staff position and then they will appoint a new Budget Director.”
Simmons declined to comment on the appointment results. However, WSGA advisor Jessica Barraclough gave a statement regarding the results.
“I think the Senate is doing what we hope they do in regards to process.” Barraclough said. “I’m excited to see where this administration goes, so hopefully a new appointment will pass through the Senate.”