David Engleman

Plan II and English Senior David Engleman speaks at a Senate of College Councils meeting in Feb. 2014. 

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The Senate of College Councils passed two bills in February that altered its nomination processes before the 2015 elections, which will take place March 12.

The Senate created and passed SB 1408 on Feb. 26 during the nominations general assembly meeting. The bill allows any council or general assembly member to be nominated for a Senate position, if at least two-thirds of councils vote to allow the motion.

During the nominations general assembly meeting, there were originally no nominees for the position of financial director, which was a problem most members had never encountered, according to current financial director David Engleman. This absence of candidates prompted the bill.

Two candidates who met the eligibility requirements did step up during the meeting, but the Senate decided to pass the bill regardless, Engleman said. 

“The discussion became about, ‘Should we open up eligibility requirements to run for one of these positions?’” Engleman said. “Ultimately, the vote was made to do that.”

The Undergraduate Business Council was one of the two councils that voted to oppose the bill.

“We voted against it out of principle,” said Adam Petras, Undergraduate Business Council president. “When Senate wants to be reformed, it’s something that should be thought about in advance. We didn’t think about it enough.”

The total discussion of the bill took 20 minutes, whereas a normal proposal for change usually takes up to two weeks. There was no real discussion about potential conflicts or problems that may arise from the passing of the bill, according to Petras.

“[The bill] might not have any impact in normal situations,” Petras said. “But it opens up the possibility for less qualified and less experienced applicants running for Senate.”

The Senate also unanimously passed SB 1405 on Feb. 12 to modify the nomination process. The original nomination process required all nominations to occur during the second-to-last general assembly meeting in February. However, since the spring semester resumed one week later than usual this year, candidates running for Senate president, vice president and financial director had a shorter campaign period. 

To accommodate for the time lost, the Senate passed SB 1405, which stated that all nominations can happen at any general assembly meeting in February, with one month of prior notice.

“Bill 1405 allows for more flexibility, giving members more time to choose nominees and giving nominees more time to campaign,” Senate president Geetika Jerath said.

Plan II sophomore David Engleman, international and global studies junior Geetika Jerath, and marketing and sociology junior Yaneli Rubio were elected to the three open positions in the Senate of College Councils on Thursday evening.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The Senate of College Councils elected Geetika Jerath as its next president on Thursday.

Along with Jerath, Senate elected Yaneli Rubio as vice president and David Engleman as financial director. Both Jerath and Engleman are in the Liberal Arts Council. 

Senate is a legislative student organization representing 20 college councils at the University. Elections are conducted internally, with each council allotted one vote to select the organization’s leaders.

Jerath, an international and global studies junior, has been involved in Senate since her freshman year and is currently in the Liberal Arts Council, a role she said makes her qualified to work with external and internal parts of Senate.

“Not only do I have internal experience, but I’m also in a council,” Jerath said. “I know the direction Senate needs to go. I have innovative practices that I would like to see, and I know how to get us there.”

Jerath said she hopes to develop a branding campaign and a strong presence at the Capitol.

“I have a very unique vision for Senate next year,” Jerath said. “It will definitely be a change that I think the University and Senate needs to see for the future.”

Rubio, a marketing and sociology junior, said her experience in Senate and other organizations qualifies her for vice president.

After spending her last semester studying abroad in Paris, Rubio said she returned with a fresh mind.

“I think studying abroad helps me a lot because I was able to step away from university politics, which a lot of university leaders get caught up in,” Rubio said.

Rubio said as vice president she hopes to improve orientation. Her experience as an orientation advisor inspired her to seek feedback from students to help the program grow.

Engleman, a Plan II sophomore, said his experience as financial director of Liberal Arts Council has prepared him for the role of Senate financial director. He said he will guarantee that all councils will receive a fair allocation of Senate funds each year. 

“A major focus of my position this year and my position next year is to maintain and build strong relationships with the staff that help the financial directors do their job,” Engleman said.

Senate president Andrew Clark said he felt all candidates were qualified for their positions. Clark said serving as both vice president and president during his time in the organization taught him that Senate needs leaders who can handle difficult situations and are able to respond to things quickly.

“There’s no better way to learn how to do something like this than just get in there and do it,” Clark said. “Everybody gets to put their own stamp on the organization, which I think is the best part about it.”