Pitzer Senate Bill Proposes Changes to Executive Board Elections

The Pitzer College Student Senate will vote on Bill 53-B-6, which would radically revise the election process for the Senate’s Executive Board, on Sunday, Dec. 3. If the bill is passed, candidates for President and Vice President would run together and the other positions on the Executive Board would be filled by appointments confirmed by a Senate vote.

Currently, each of the positions on the Executive Board is elected, and candidates for each position run independently of one another. If the bill is passed, the President and Vice President, elected together, would nominate the Communications Secretary, Secretary, and Treasurer.

Bill 53-B-6, which would amend the Senate constitution, was introduced because of concerns about disagreement and division within the Executive Board. 

“This bill would increase cohesiveness on the Executive Board,” said Communications Secretary Claire Wengrod PZ ’19, who helped draft the bill.

Bill 53-B-6 would also “help unify the Executive Board, because of the amount of work they have to do together and the amount of responsibility it is. We’re trying to implement this in order to prevent disruption within the board,” said Senator Lora McManus PZ ’18, one of the bill’s sponsors.

In recent years, several members of the Executive Board have resigned before the beginning of the year, mid-semester, or between semesters. Wengrod and McManus believe that Bill 53-B-6 could cut down on these resignations.

“It’s our understanding that some of the people leaving did so because some of the people didn’t feel comfortable with the climate in Executive Board or just didn’t feel like they could contribute to the Executive Board," McManus said. "We’re hoping that this could cut down on that misunderstanding within the Executive Board and help them work together better."

According to McManus, by making the President and Vice President “a very cohesive team” that will run together with the same platform and allowing them to choose the rest of the Executive Board, there is less potential for disagreement and division on the Executive Board.

Current Senate President Josue Pasillas PZ ’17 believes that Bill 53-B-6 would have a positive impact on the functioning of the Executive Board.

“I support Bill 53-B-6 because it will improve work productivity, teamwork, and communication within the Executive Board. The bill will ensure that the Executive Board is a cohesive group united by a vision and a set of priorities,” Pasillas wrote in an email to TSL.

While some senators, like McManus, expressed hope that Bill 53-B-6 would have a positive impact on the functioning of the Executive Board, others have concerns about potential unintended impacts.

One primary concern among certain members of the Senate is the amount of power that the bill grants to the President and Vice President on the Senate.

“My biggest concern is that this Constitutional Amendment might concentrate too much power into the hands of the President (and to a lesser extent the Vice President), since other members of the Executive Board will be appointed, and thus more loyal to the demands of the President,” wrote Senior Class Representative Chance Kawar PZ '17 in an email to TSL.

Sophomore Class Representative Kamyab Mashian PZ '19 said that there are merits to the bill and that it is well-intentioned, but he is also concerned about the amount of power concentrated in the hands of the president.

“Half of the seats on the legislature are appointed seats and the appointments are made by the Executive Board,” Mashian said. "I think it’s important to have some checks on the President’s authority."

Mashian also expressed the concern that having the President and Vice President run together and appoint the rest of the Executive Board would reduce the diversity of opinion on the Executive Board.

“Our current President and Vice President would not, if there had been a slate system, have been on the Executive Board together. I think it’s good that there are people with different perspectives on Executive Board together. But like we’ve encountered, that can lead to conflicts, so I think it’s a matter of weighing those concerns against each other,” Mashian said.

Mashian proposed a possible compromise, in which the President, Vice President, and Communications Secretary are elected separately before jointly appointing the Treasurer and Secretary, which are more technical positions requiring specific skills.