The Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Student Body Senate held its first meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic had shutdown the university in mid-March Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020.
Starting at 7 p.m., the meeting lasted roughly three hours as the Student Body Vice President, Colton Ray, walked the senators through their roles. During this meeting, senators were sworn in and senate executive board positions were filled.
The senators present for the initiation processes, many of them new to the senate, were: Amanda Fox, Tyler Kochman, Auryon Azar, Charis Bly, John Milkovich, Jasmine Williams-Banks, and MacKayla Stevens.
The student government executive board
Non-elected executive board members had been appointed prior to the meeting by the Student Body President, Luis Romero, and Ray. These non-elected executive board positions are the only paid positions for the Student Government aside from student body president and vice president.
- Myles Campbell has been appointed as the Director of the Business and Finance, and the chair of the Senate Business and Finance Committee
- Daezja Giles has been appointed as the Director of Student Services
- Donacal Clemons has been appointed as the Director of Diversity and Community Outreach
- Joci McMicheal has been appointed as the newest Senate Clerk and Director of Internal Relations
- Tiana Stewart has been appointed the Director of Media
Senate leadership is decided
Additionally, the new senate filled the senate leadership positions of Parliamentarian and Speaker of the Senate, electing Azar as Speaker and Kochman as Parliamentarian. Kochman nominated Azar as Speaker.
Fox ran against Azar and Kochman, for both Parliamentarian and Speaker.
Palestinian flag debacle
During the election process for Parliamentarian and Speaker, Kochman brought to light an issue regarding office decorum from the previous year.
In the previous senate, former Student Body Vice President Hajer Abuzir had hung a Palestinian flag in the Student Government offices. Fox had voiced significant disapproval in response.
“To me it seemed like it wasn’t prioritizing student issues as much as personal beliefs," Kochman said. Kochman saw Fox’s response as a disqualifying factor from holding senate leadership. “I myself, being Jewish, did not take offense to that [flag], however I believe [Senator Fox] did,“ Kochman said.
The Palestinian flag can be representative of both the Palestinian–controlled territories and the Palestinian people.
“I am Jewish and I’m in Hillell,“ Fox said, defending her actions during the meeting. Hillel is an international collegiate Jewish organization with a chapter at EMU.
"A student in that organization came up to the office and saw a Palestinian flag, and although that flag represented one thing to the previous vice president, that flag represented a completely other thing for that Jewish student . . . I recommended let’s just take down all flags in the Student Government office . . . Listening to . . . what that flag meant to them, it gave me the understanding this isn’t the perception they’re trying to show, this is their identity,” Fox said.
The flag was eventually removed by Student Government advisors, Leigh Greden and Perry Francis, who had intervened, enforcing Student Center policy regarding political neutrality.
“You’ll notice the Student Center is generally neutral when it comes down to political statements because it is a university center for all people," Francis said during the meeting.
The next Student Senate meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting has been pushed by a day due the following day being Election Day. The meeting will be held via Zoom and can be accessed through the Student Government website.