After the Senate Pro-Tempore resigned, citing a lack of respect for minorities, UF’s Senate elected a new officer Tuesday night.
In a 54-20 vote, Trevor Schaettle (Impact, District B) will begin his 4-week term as Senate President Pro-Tempore, effective immediately. Schaettle formerly held the position in Spring 2017.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity to bring as many qualified, passionate senators into the chamber,” he said.
The special election between Zachariah Chou (Inspire, Murphree) and Schaettle, Impact majority party leader, comes a week after the resignation of previous Senate President Pro-Tempore Janae Moodie. Moodie said her party and Student Government tokenize minorities.
Schaettle said he knew about Moodie’s plans to resign but disagreed with her, and said SG is diverse.
“I try to stay as unbiased and look more at qualifications and passion when we chose senators,” Schaettle said. “That’s not to say we don’t pick diverse senators. As a committee, we shouldn’t have diversity be the only thing that we look for.”
Senator Mackintosh Joachim (Inspire, Graham) said diversity is an issue that needs to be addressed in the Senate and asked both senators their approach.
Schaettle said the issue will not be fixed overnight. He hopes to meet with multicultural groups on campus to learn about their needs.
“This is something that I, and Student Government have to work on,” he said. “Really voicing [multicultural group’s] concerns, seeing what parts we could do better on and seeing what parts we could meet halfway on.”
Before Chou’s loss, he proposed the idea of exit interviews for all departing Senators. He said he got the idea from a point made in Moodie’s speech about how many senators have left.
“Student Government is pretty numb about when people leave Senate,” Chou said. “It’s important to make Senate more inclusive and thoughtful.”
The Senate also voted down an amendment proposed by Austin Young, a UF political science and religion senior, in committee. The amendment would change how future constitutional amendments are ratified by not including abstention votes in the three-fifths required to pass. The opportunity for the bill to be debated was voted down 50-24 when amending the agenda.
“The bottom line is that it’s simply not right that the judiciary committee would withhold it [the bill] from the rest of the Senate,” the 22-year-old said. “I think it’s wrong for a small committee to decide arbitrarily for the Senate not to vote on it.”