The Daily Gamecock

Speaker pro tempore resigns, student senate clashes over finance bill

Speaker pro tempore Ian Herd resigned from his position effective immediately during the student senate meeting Wednesday night.

Herd, who will remain a student senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, said he left the speaker pro tempore position due to major problems he saw with leadership and that he felt he could better handle those issues as a senator.

“I feel, quite frankly, that leadership is not addressing the fact that we are hemorrhaging money. I respect the institution of the senate, but I didn't think it would be fair to continue in my role representing the senate when I have such fundamental disagreements with how it's being operated, and the casualness with which we appropriate money,” Herd said. 

During the introduction of new legislation, chairman of the finance committee Patrick Koon introduced the weekly bill from the finance committee, SBL11537, which allocated funds to several student organizations. 

Koon said during his speech on the bill that student organizations had requested a total of $92,247.11 worth of funding, and that the finance committee had decided to distribute $24,916.48 to 11 different student organizations this week in additional to all previous rounds of allocations. 

Several senators, including senator Caleb Lapsley, objected to a motion to pass the bill by acclimation due to the limited amount of money remaining in the Student Government budget, prompting the senate to go into recess.

After the recess, Koon motioned to table the bill indefinitely and then immediately motioned to bring it back from tabling so that it would be automatically placed on the second contested reading calendar, a maneuver permitted under 115th student senate rules adopted earlier this year, according to Speaker Cameron Eubanks. 

Koon estimated that there was between $20,000 and $30,000 left in the budget for the rest of the academic year. Student Government will not receive additional student activity funds to allocate to student organizations until the budget resets with the start of USC's new fiscal year on July 1, 2024.  

With the bill placed on the contested reading calendar, Eubanks opened up the floor for any senators wishing to discuss the bill. However, none of the senators that objected to the bill spoke on the floor, and The Daily Gamecock was unable to reach them for comment after the session ended.

The bill passed nearly unanimously, with 42 senators voting in favor and one abstaining. 

Koon said he was happy to see the bill passed tonight because of how important it is to provide funding for student organizations.

“Student organizations rely upon the funds to operate a variety of programs, conferences and tournaments. It's very important that we get this through due to precedents set by the senate finance committee,” Koon said.

Herd said one of the biggest reasons he decided to resign his role was because of the poor management of funding bills such as SBL11537.

"The lack of responsibility shown by our finance committee and the senators who pushed this legislation through without being informed shows that they're willing to just give (funds) away," Herd said.

Herd quickly nominated senator and chairwoman of the powers and responsibilities committee Ava Baber to replace him just moments after resigning.

Baber was confirmed as the new speaker pro tempore by a vote of 37 in favor, one against and five abstaining, and she was immediately sworn into office. 

Baber said that while she was not expecting to be confirmed tonight, she is excited for her new role. 

“I'm just surprised. I wish that I had more time to prepare for it," Baber said. "But I'm really happy about it. I hope the rest of the year goes really well, and I'm excited to work alongside Cameron."