SGA Senate approves cabinet members for 53rd session

SGA Senate The Student Government Association Senate unanimously approved its first senator for the semester at Sunday’s meeting.

Courtesy of NIU Student Government Association

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By Ashley Dwy

DeKALB – SGA Senate approved four members to join the 53rd cabinet at their virtual meeting on Sunday.

Zachary Zilm, SGA director of organizational development, with a vote count of 17 in favor, zero against and one abstention, was approved to continue being the director for the next session.

“During my time in this position, I really found a basic routine and a good understanding of all the duties and how to assist the (SGA) vice president, all the other SGA associates, helping student leaders and really streamline the recognition process in a timely manner,” Zilm said.

Senator Jennifer Oduwole said she was indifferent towards Zilm as a candidate due to his lack of passion or having a set of specific goals.

“He’s not really someone — to me — that’s kind of one to ‘lead the pack,’ but more so, definitely, a team player,” Oduwole said.

Speaker of the Senate Brad Beyer said Zilm did not receive a good initial transition into his directorship but was overall impressed with what Zilm was able to accomplish over the last semester.

“I know that (Zilm) worked with organizations that were not willing to work with the current vice president, so he was there to step in, and I think he performed himself well in that regard,” Beyer said. “In terms of job duties, he’s a performer. But, a visionary, I think can be worked on.”

Duane Meighan, second-year biology major, was approved as the director of academic affairs with a vote count of 16 in favor, zero against and two abstentions.

The director of academic affairs’ job is to recommend changes or improvements on economic policies as needed and act as a liaison to the Faculty Senate and school representatives, Meighan said.

“The kind of director that I want to be is one that’s in constant communication with the student body outside of simply sitting on committees,” Meighan said. “I want to actively endeavor to meet with different students as a means of increasing my understanding of a student’s academic needs.”

Senator Jacob Burg said Meighan showed a lot of determination to be part of the change on campus, which is why he was in favor of confirming Meighan.

Leah Botello, third-year nonprofit and NGO studies major, was confirmed as the director of public affairs with a vote count of 16 in favor, zero against and two abstentions.

Botello’s goals focus on SGA’s social media and engaging and building relationships with the students by creating active lines of communication between SGA and the student body, Botello said.

Botello also plans to organize events for Hispanic Heritage Month in September, Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March and an event for the one year anniversary of #StopAsianHate also in March.

Out of all of her initiatives, Botello said she is most excited for the #StopAsianHate event and a FAFSA workshop for students in October.

Oduwole said Botello would be a good candidate for promoting diversity on campus because her initiatives were centered towards inclusivity towards the larger student body.

“I think that a lot of directors go in with a lot of goals just because they’re not in their position yet, so they don’t actually see what’s going on until they get there,” chairperson Brianna Richardson said. “It’s not a bad thing to have many goals, but, at the same time, it was nice that she was able to pick out a few of them. We’ve been struggling with student engagement, and she has a lot of good ideas, so I do support her.”

Rithikesh Reddy Patlolla, first-year computer science major, was confirmed as the director of governmental affairs with a vote count of 11 in favor, four against and three abstentions.

One of Patlolla’s main goals is to conduct an event on campus to raise awareness about what bills are being passed or what the current SGA situation looks like, Patlolla said.

“I’ll try my best to keep updating the Senate with all the updates regarding news nationally and the bills that are being passed and how they would affect (SGA),” Patlolla said.

Richardson held reservations for a first-year going into a paid SGA position.

“I do understand (Patlolla) doesn’t have a lot of SGA experience, but I think us as an organization if we’re really here to develop leaders and guide that way, I think it would be fine for him to serve in the position as of now,” Oduwole said. “It would really be up to (SGA president-elect Devlin Collins) to really be on him and make sure things are going accordingly.”

Other Business

SGA introduced a glossary of terms in the form of an appendix in their bylaws. The terms in the appendix were defined by deputy speaker Dallas Douglass with input from NIU attorney Joe Lovelace.

SGA also adopted NIU’s Code of Conduct and added it in their bylaws. This initiative started after October. This was when students questioned SGA vice president Kyle Jacobson’s ability to represent the student body due to his social media posts about the Blue Lives Matter movement and his position in Turning Point USA, according to an Oct. 19 Northern Star article.

“There is a need for a written conduct policy with consequences that are more specific to SGA in addition to the NIU Code of Conduct that all students abide by,” Douglass said during the SGA April 11 meeting.

Besides removal, censure, reprimand and suspension are included in actions to take against senators who go against the Code, Douglass said in the SGA April 11 meeting minutes.