After a challenging two semesters for Santa Fe College’s Student Senate and Student Government, a new chapter for the chamber began last week.
Senate swore in a new leadership team and said goodbye to its old one. Tears were shed in the Senate president election that night after Patriel Stapleton was unexpectedly nominated and then elected by a landslide.
When her predecessor Jeremy Pierce passed her the gavel, it marked the end of a journey that saw Senate struggle to address some issues.
“It’s been a wild ride,” said Benjamin Myers, the director of internal affairs.
Some senators trace the start of Senate’s struggles to a no-confidence vote last semester against Pierce — a move that suggested senators did not believe he was fit to hold his position. But former Student Body President Austin Browning thinks there was more to Senate’s difficulties.
“I think it held Senate back, but I don’t think that’s the only thing that held Senate back,” Browning said.
While Pierce received flack for reportedly threatening to remove senators from their positions, former Senate President pro-tempore Dalton King praised Pierce for his hard work and passion.
“He was dedicated (and) very motivated,” King said.
While Pierce’s passion helped move business along in Senate, King said, he also thinks it was part of the reason Pierce faced opposition.
While still in office, Pierce stressed he wasn’t a yes-man and made sure to enforce rules. King said he thinks some senators took issue with this, which he thinks led to the criticism Pierce faced.
Representing students was another issue, Sen. Connor Levine said, and is something he and other senators want to improve on.
“We lost sight of our main purpose and our goals,” Levine said. “And instead of representing the students, we put a lot of effort to internal power struggles.”
While Senate faced difficulties, it also passed numerous bills and resolutions, including an amendment updating rule 2.8 to protect students from discrimination, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.
With Summer A beginning in just a few weeks, Levine said he thinks that while the issues Senate has faced held it back for a while, it will help Senate in the long run.
“With each hurdle we overcome we grow a little bit,” he said, “allowing us to serve the students of Santa Fe a little bit more effectively.”
[A version of this story ran on page 12 on 4/22/2015]