DeKALB — Legislative Director Ian Pearson was elected Speaker of the Senate for the 51st session of the Student Association with all 14 senators who discussed and debated the position advocating for him.
At Sunday night’s meeting, Pearson won with a 24-3 vote against Senator James Holmes. During discussion and debate, most senators agreed Holmes had drive but needed more experience as a result of being a first-year.
Pearson, junior political science and nonprofit management major, will begin serving as Speaker for the 51st session after the end of the 50th session in May. The duties of the speaker include leading the legislative branch in allocating the SA budget and appointing individuals such as the deputy speaker, according to the SA Constitution and Bylaws.
Current Speaker of the Senate Tristan Martin said the position is a full-time job which the next candidate should be ready for.
“Just sitting in front of the Senate, this is about five to ten percent of the job,” Martin said. “There’s a lot of policy things within the bylaws and constitution that need to be done with this job that I didn’t really realize before getting into.”
Both nominees were allotted five minutes to address the Senate, after which the floor was opened for questioning from senators.
Pearson has been a part of the Rules and Procedures, Public Affairs and Finance committees. He has also been president of three student organizations, student trustee for NIU Foundation and has led the charge to secure a $50,000 donation to an undocumented scholarship fund.
Pearson said he plans to keep campaigns such as the #NoShameCampaign and Project Orange alive for next year.
“Advocacy for adequate mental health resources, fighting for support for undocumented students and efforts toward an accessible campus most certainly can’t end this year,” Pearson said. “We must remain committed to these causes and be prepared to advocate on new ones.”
Pearson also said as speaker he plans to work alongside the executive branch to create a better SA to serve for the students. He said he currently has good relationships with current executive members and those who were just elected.
He said he wants to go through governing documents to make sure everything is up to date so the SA can function as a whole and not as student arbitration panel.
Deputy speaker Cassandra Kamp said she has worked alongside both candidates but voted for Pearson because of his experience and relationships with administration.
“[Holmes] has a very welcoming attitude and wants to see change, and I think he can become a strong and successful leader with more development,” Kamp said. “Although, I’ve always seen [Pearson] go above and beyond of what’s required by his bylaws.”
Senator Pablo Valencia-Garcia said as a representative of DREAM Action NIU, Pearson has shown great support to the organization.
Pearson said it is imperative to focus on those who don’t have a voice in the student body.
“Our system of shared governance, the voice of students, is not only essential, it is the means by which we can affect change,” Pearson said. “We cannot afford to be left out of the loop on healthcare mergers, bus contracts or any issue affecting students; it is time to live up to our founding principle to not be the result of change but the cause of it.”