The ballot for the upcoming Student Government election Feb. 14-15 will contain not only the candidates for executive and senate positions, but also a referendum to add a new executive position — speaker of the student senate.
The referendum proposes a speaker of the student senate to take over the vice president’s administrative obligations with the senate, including presiding over the senate and overseeing the passage of new legislation. The new position will allow the vice president to spend more time working on initiatives for the student body.
Student Body Vice President Ross Lordo, who is currently running for student body president, said that the vice president has historically focused on the senate but that his goal once he came into office was to redefine the role.
"I want to make sure that we can focus on specific goals and ideas that we want to achieve,” he said.
Over the course of his term as vice president, Lordo has worked on initiatives such as additional options for the Greek meal plan, classroom improvement programs and mid-term course evaluations — initiatives for which the speaker of the student senate would be responsible.
Student Body President Michael Parks said Lordo has been an unconventional vice president, but "in a good way."
"He has run the day to day oscillations of the student senate," Parks said, "but he's also pursued his own initiatives and projects that he worked on and promised in the campaign."
He added that the referendum will free up the vice president to work with the administration rather than the student senate.
Sen. Jay Selesky of the College of Engineering and Computing, who is currently running for student body vice president, said that the speaker would be responsible for connecting the right people to the senate's initiatives and legislation.
"This means there will be better quality and more total initiatives coming out of our student senate,” Selesky said.
Student Government has attempted to create a fourth executive position in past years, but this is the first time it has passed through senate and is to be voted on by the student body. According to Attorney General Corey Alpert, Student Government worked to phrase the question as neutrally as possible and it will read on the ticket as: "Should Student Government have a speaker of the student senate position?" Students will have the option to vote "yes" or "no."
The referendum needs a majority vote from all voting students to pass. Parks encouraged all students to vote on the referendum, noting that all voters who abstain from voting on the referendum will be counted as opposed to the referendum. If the referendum passes, the inaugural speaker of the student senate will be elected during the next election cycle for the 2018-2019 school year.
Debbie Clark also contributed to this article.