Rice implements a new process for selecting senators


SGA Vice President, Tyler Rice.

Nefsa'Hyatt Brown, Editor-in-Chief

Despite the drastic change in college life due to COVID-19, 2020-21 Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President Tyler Rice has been working with the legislative branch to ensure that the student senate has a productive year. 

Unlike previous years, Rice explained that this year the selection process for senators is much more extensive as he wanted to ensure that the senate was “really representative of who’s on campus.” 

“We had three rounds,” Rice said.  The first one we gathered information on people who were interested in becoming senators,”  as he explained the selection process in depth. “The second round we reviewed their [the interests] resumes and their statements on why they wanted to be senators, and during the final round we interviewed them one by one.” 

Along with the extensive selection process, Rice also stated that the senate would be undergoing a new form of training. Instead of senators and other SGA members completing training before running for office, the university decided to go in a new direction allowing SGA to decide how and when they want to undergo training. 

“Gone are the days of training with Mr. [Kenneth] Dean,” Rice said.  “Gone are the days of when you had to be trained before running for office,” reminiscing about SGA when he ran for office the first time. “There are a lot of people in positions who are not trained in SGA currently. There are only four of us now, David, Dax, Tre, and myself, who received SGA training.” 

Explaining how important it is for him to give some of his knowledge to the senators, Rice said the training will begin in October and span over the semester.  “The senate will be trained on and writing a bill and Roberts’s Rules of Order by the Legislative advisor, Director of Research and Sponsored Programs Pernell Jenkins.   Reflecting on his training last year, Rice said that he wants to continue the mandatory SGA Constitution test. 

“I know that we cannot break down the constitution in one day, but I want us to have a day where we discuss the constitution thoroughly before the test,” he said. “I want to ease my way into it, though, because I understand that everyone does not grasp information and knowledge at the same rate.”

As only four Senators ran for office in the 2020 SGA election, the senate spent its first two meetings confirming the senators. Completing their confirmations there are now 20 senators total for the semester. 

Along with training, Rice also plans on amending the bylaws to include a mandate for all senators to host one town hall per semester for their respective colleges. The senators from the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics scheduled their first town hall meeting during the first week of October.

 “It may not seem like a lot is going on, but behind the scenes, a lot of conversations are being had, and I know David and myself really want to leave SGA better than what we found it,” Rice said. “We want to be sure when we come back that everything we did helps to bring in a new generation of leaders. That is why it is important for me to work with other leaders who are coming after me to ensure we are leaving this university better than we found it.”

Selecting more fresh faces to join the senate, Rice’s goal for this semester is on the quality of work the senate produces. He emphasizes the comfort of the new senators in their positions and their understanding of SGA and its purpose. Moreover, as well as focusing on passing bills and resolutions, Rice plans to revisit bills that have been passed in the previous years and implement them. 

“Personally, there have been a few bills that were passed while I was here, and before I got here, such as the clean and sustainable campus initiative that I want to get implemented,” Rice said, explaining some bills he wants to revisit. “Also, the Walmart Shuttle Act. Due to COVID-19, we will not see it this semester, but I want to lay the groundwork so that students can have access to Walmart after COVID-19.”

Hoping for a productive year for SGA as a whole, Rice understands that it is his responsibility as the senate president to ensure that he is leading the Legislative branch and providing strong direction. However, with the addition of Gem Richardson as the senate pro-tempore, he plans on taking a step back and “empowering the next generation of leaders so that the SGA will be stronger.”

In terms of streaming the senate meetings, Rice admitted to having difficulties with the technology, explicitly trying to record meetings and stream them live on YouTube. Once they can stream the meetings to YouTube, a link will be sent to the student body via email. 

“Right now, we are laying the groundwork for future success,” Rice said, summarizing the senate’s current status. “We are going to take a look at the past making sure we are implementing those things, taking a look at the present seeing where we are now and assessing who we have and what their strong suits are and what their weaknesses are so in the future they are able to take over.”