The Associated Students Senate voted to unanimously approve the appointment of four senators on Monday as part of an effort to fill eight vacancies created by resignations.
The senate approved the appointment of Kavya Dhyasani, Senator for the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Adrian De Leon, Senator for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Isaac Shafa, Senator for the College of Business and Economics. The senate also approved the appointment of Graduate Senator Rishabh Runwal.
The senate serves as the legislative branch of student government. It has the power to appropriate funds and introduce initiatives to provide extracurricular services and support to students. AS President Diana Vicente and her cabinet nominated the senators.
AS Chair of Personnel Rebecca Grinberg said that the senate usually approves new appointees.
“So far we’ve never had issues with the senate not approving,” said Grinberg, whose job is to interview and recommend applicants for appointment.
According to Patrick Bailey, the Executive Director of AS, it’s common to have a number of vacancies in the senate, especially at the end of a semester when senators resign because they graduate or realize they are no longer able to hold the position.
In theory, the annual AS election, which is held late in the spring semester, is supposed to produce enough senators to fill the senate.
At its full capacity, the senate is composed of 22 senators — two from each academic college, two senators representing all graduate students, one senator representing all lower-division students and another representing all upper-division students.
Senate positions sometimes go uncontested during the regular election, according to Bailey.
When senate seats are unfilled, the AS Constitution calls for the organization to open the vacant positions to students who meet eligibility requirements. That’s how Senator for the College of Humanities, Michael Meeks, attained his current position.
Meeks, who is a religious studies major, applied for the vacant senate position in his college after his presidential campaign fell short in last year’s election.
The other senator for the College of Humanities, who was elected, has since resigned, making Meeks the sole representative of that college in the senate.
Meeks said that it can be difficult to find students to fill vacant positions.
“We have certain structural issues with outreach, because there is lower name recognition for AS on campus than optimally there would be,” Meeks said. “Just like in any government.”
“A lot of people don’t understand what the position is, that it’s open or what it does,” he said.
Meeks, who said outreach has even entailed visiting classrooms, finds that students are often too busy even when there is interest.
“It can be a challenge to fill those seats in a good year,” he said.
After Monday’s vote, four vacancies remain in the senate. The vacant senate positions are for the colleges of Education, Engineering and Computer Science, Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences.