The Associated Student Body Senate convened Tuesday to vote on the removal of six senators — five were removed due to either resignation or the accumulation of excessive absences. In the same meeting, the senate body filled those five seats with five new senators at-large.
Senators Jack Gilliland, Taylor Lampkin, Brandon McClendon, Tiara Scott and Cole Wood resigned and/or accumulated excessive absences.
Senator Dee Harris was recommended for removal due to excessive absences, but spoke before the senate body on her own behalf, imploring the body to allow her to remain. The body voted to do so.
Mason Greenwald, a political science major, was previously a member of the senate body and is one of the five senators confirmed in Tuesday’s formal senate meeting.
“I served on ASB last year, but lost re-election. I wanted this open seat because I want to continue to advocate for my peers,” he said. “The University of Mississippi is truly a special place, but has room to grow specifically in the fields of eco-sustainability and broader inclusion of all.”
Greenwald was confirmed alongside Wade Roberts, David Smith, Lorne Turner and Hayden Pierce. Pierce, a sophomore international studies major, said he is excited to begin his time as a senator and positively impact the university community, planning to take strides towards better and more extensive mental health resources for everyone.
“I’m ecstatic to begin my tenure as an ASB Senator. I wanted to join the ASB Senate because this semester, I have seen a lot of my friends struggling with burn-out from school, mental health issues and substance abuse. I knew I wanted to promote the campus mental health resources more clearly and equitably to students, and I also saw the need to train faculty so that they are better equipped to take care of their own wellness and that of their students,” he said. “I am very humbled to have earned this seat, and I take on the full responsibilities required of me. I plan on fulfilling my duties to the fullest extent, starting with mental health issues and substance abuse.”
Associated Student Body Vice President Richard Springer said he is excited to welcome the new senators and their ideas to the senate body and work with them throughout the end of the year.
“I’m really excited. At-large senators are often some of the most hardworking and passionate,” he said. “They get up and speak in front of their peers. And that takes some guts to do — to share some of the ideas that you have. They all had really great ideas.”
When senators are elected by the student body in April, they are elected to be academic senators (accountancy, applied sciences, business, education, engineering, graduate school, journalism, liberal arts, law, pharmacy) or registered student organization senators (academic/professional, honorary/honor society, interfraternity council, cultural/multicultural, national pan-Hellenic council, Panhellenic, political organizations, religious/spiritual sports club, service/philanthropic, student governance, special interest, sponsored, and wellness/health).
The five senators who were confirmed, after petitioning to be considered, are considered to be senators at-large because they represent the general student body.
“We were somewhat unfortunate to have so many open seats, yet so fortunate to have so many people willing to fill those seats with really great ideas and what I think is going to be a great work ethic, and a great addition to every committee in the senate,” Springer said.
Smith, another newly elected senator, is looking forward to using his seat to better the university after speaking publicly before an audience for the first time.
“I wanted to be in the senate because I have this strong passion for getting things done and using my own voice to do so. Courage can go a long way when solving commodities.
I’m really happy to have earned this seat,” he said. “This is such a rare opportunity on campus and this was actually my first ever speech — like I never had taken public speaking.
With me being senate, I plan to take affirmative action to get things around this campus so everyone can be happy and that there will be equality and equity for everyone.”
Roberts echoed the sentiments of his fellow senators at-large.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as a senator at-large, especially because it is a chance for me to represent the general student body as opposed to a specific constituency. Ole Miss is a quickly changing university, and working in this role to empower student voices in that change is exciting,” he said. “I look forward to collaborating with my fellow senators to promote undervalued communities on campus and set all students up for success in their four years at Ole Miss.”
As election season in April draws nearer, Springer is planning to further clarify the responsibilities and requirements of being an ASB Senator to try to prevent resignations and removals due to excessive absences from occurring as frequently in future legislative bodies.
“I want to make the information, requirements and responsibilities of being a senator more known to the candidates who are interested in running. I want to have info-sessions in April going over the duties of being a senator, maybe get some of our senators in there to talk about it,” he said. “I think that a lot of times absences, unfortunately, come from maybe not knowing all the expectations or not knowing what a senator was necessarily getting themselves into, so that’s a project that I’m looking forward to working on.”
Lila Osman, President Pro Tempore & Chair of the Rules Committee, said she’s also excited to welcome the new senators.
“I’m really excited to have new voices in the senate, new representation in the senate and new individuals that are excited to be engaged with the senate body,” she said.