The Daily Gamecock

Noah Glasgow looks to break traditions as speaker of the student senate

Noah Glasgow decided to join the student senate early in his first semester at USC in fall 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a vacant Student Senate seat and he applied online through Garnet Gate. Glasgow saw it as a way to get involved on campus during a time when it was hard to do so.

"I was a Covid freshman," Glasgow said. "Just a lot of isolation, not a lot of opportunities to get involved."

From this quiet, socially-distanced beginning, Glasgow was re-elected to student senate the next year where he served as chairman of the student rights committee. In spring 2022, he was elected and made history as the first openly gay speaker of the student senate.

"Being open, I hope that means the future people that come after me, people I won't ever know, can feel open," Glasgow said. 

When it comes to the work of Student Government, however, Glasgow realizes he cannot make changes as fast as he would like. He has high hopes for what Student Government can be and what it can achieve, but he also knows its limits. The student senate has the power to pass resolutions, which express opinions on issues, and to pass recommendations, which express the desire of the student senate. 

"We're not an actual government, we're a student government. We're primarily concerned with advocacy," Glasgow said.

Despite these limitations, Glasgow has been steadfast in his advocacy. There is no shortage of accomplishments he is proud to talk about, "there's so many, not to brag."

"As student leaders, we've got a responsibility to create more equitable environments, even within our limited capacity to create change at the university," Glasgow said.

Glasgow is most proud of the creation of a secretary of disability services, a dedicated position in student government that advocates for students with disabilities. The legislation overcame a veto from then Student Body President Alex Harrell.

"Getting around campus physically — our infrastructure is awful. I'm a fully-abled person, but I still tripped on the bricks. I can't imagine somebody in crutches, a wheelchair," Glasgow said.

Jada Hudson, Glasgow's long-time friend, shares his passion for advocacy. Hudson joined Student Government at the same time Glasgow did. She first served on freshman council before being elected to the student senate where she got to know Glasgow.

Hudson worked with him to create an alternative to the mandatory fee to run for a position in Student Government as USC is the only school in the SEC with monetary fees to run for student government.

As an alternative to the monetary fees, student senate candidates must now receive 25 signatures from within the candidate's college to run and executive candidates must receive 100 total signatures to run.

"I really want to get more people involved in Student Government," Hudson said. "I think we can do a better job of outreach and making sure that students know that we are here on campus for them."

As speaker of the student senate, all of Glasgow's legislative goals must be put to the side as speakers cannot draft legislation. His role is to preside over the student senate and advocate for it, regardless of his opinions on its recommendations.

"I don't even comment on current legislation and on all of that stuff, because that's just not what my role is," Glasgow said. "My job is to help senators of all legislation regardless of whether I agree with it or not."

But Glasgow is not becoming entirely impartial. On the rare occasion there is a tie among the student senate, the speaker can vote yes to pass it, but traditionally votes no to kill it. Glasgow said he will break this tradition and vote with his conscience, not sticking to the no vote.

"If the legislation is good, it needs to pass, even if it struggles to get over that one last hurdle," Glasgow said.

Hudson is supportive of Glasgow not sticking with the tradition of the speaker voting no. 

"I think if people elected him that he should be able to express his thoughts and wishes because I absolutely trust him," Hudson said.

Mariam El Geneidy, a former student senator and legislative aide and now a member of Glasgow's cabinet, was Glasgow's campaign manager for his speaker of the student senate campaign and now serves as his chief of staff. She was attracted to his campaign thanks to his passion for inclusivity and diversity.

"He was someone that a lot of our values and the way that we saw student government evolve, like really aligned," El Geneidy said. 

El Geneidy said she felt comfortable around Glasgow, knowing he creates a safe space for everyone, regardless of their identity.

"As someone who is a minority, I was most comfortable working with him because I felt like he had the best interest of minorities in mind," El Geneidy said.

Glasgow's perception of what the speaker of the student senate does has already changed, despite his short time in the position.

"When I was a senator, I had a certain perception of the speaker. Just really only presiding over senate on Wednesdays and then calling it a day ... boy, was I wrong," Glasgow said. "It's a lot. It's physically draining, emotionally draining."

Most of the new responsibilities will never be seen by the public. Writing the script for every senate session, coordinating his staff's responsibilities and setting up Google slides are some of his new, often thankless, tasks.

Glasgow initially struggled with the unexpected amount of responsibilities. In the beginning, he suffered his first ever anxiety attack, which caused him to miss class.

"It was a lot thrown at me. It was like sensory overload," Glasgow said. 

As the job has gone and he has received advice from previous speakers, the job has gotten much less painful.

"I didn't use Outlook Calendar before this job, now it is my godsend," Glasgow said. "If it looks like it's going smoothly, that means that I'm doing my job well."