Student trustee to focus on budget, safety

James Zanayed, Student Association Supreme Court justice, speaks prior to being elected as the SA student trustee. Zanayed received 28 of 30 possible votes for the trustee position Sunday. Read more at

By Madison Kacer

The Student Association Senate approved James Zanayed, SA Supreme Court justice, as student trustee with an outcome of 28-1-1.

The student trustee fills one of the eight trustee positions on the Board of Trustees with voting power equal to the other seven. They are intended to give student representation during Board of Trustees decision-making.

The search for a new student trustee began after former student trustee Raquel Chavez put in a letter of resignation in early January due to an excessive work load, said Timothy Brandner, SA sergeant at arms.

Zanayed was selected by SA President Nathan Lupstein on Feb. 26, although there was no formal application or interview process. After being screened by the Rules and Procedures committee on Thursday, the legislation to approve Zanayed was put on the SA Senate’s Sunday meeting agenda.

While serving as the student trustee, Zanayed said he plans to serve on all of the Board of Trustees committees and attend SA cabinet meetings. He will also continue to fulfill his current SA position of supreme court justice.

“He definitely is one of the most qualified candidates on our campus,” said Robert Kreml, SA Senate deputy speaker.

Lupstein said he began compiling a small pool of candidates in early February to fill the position, which is when he initially approached Zanayed. He waited to make an official appointment until after the Board of Trustees approved of a new procedure to fill the spot of a resigned student trustee on Feb. 18, as this is something the SA has never encountered before.

Zanayed is a second-year law student who has about six years of experience working with the SA, including experience as the senate speaker, chairman of the Campus Life and Greek Affairs committee and supreme court justice.

“He’s really done a lot of work with the community,” Lupstein said. “He’s also developed very, very extensive networks here on campus and has developed a relationship with many upper-level administrators, as well.”

When word of Zanayed’s appointment reached members of the SA, some said they felt concern about Zanayed’s ability to manage his numerous academic and extracurricular responsibilities.

“Knowing that [Chavez] was a first-year law student, to appoint a second-year law student would just be a little weird,” said SA Senator Tristan Martin.

However, when Zanayed was screened by the Rules and Procedures committee, he was able to defend his ability to balance his commitment to these responsibilities, Brandner said.

Zanayed addressed questions about the concern during the Sunday meeting. He said law school is more difficult to manage as a first-year student.

“My ability to manage my time and manage my work has really come to me within the past few years,” Zanayed said.

Some of the key issues Zanayed said he hopes to address as student trustee include the state budget, campus safety and student enrollment.

The SA’s trustee appointment does not need Board of Trustees approval. The first Board of Trustees meeting Zanayed will attend is on March 17.

“I’m excited to represent the students at the highest level,” Zanayed said. “I know I can make the best decisions for them.”