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Student Senate appoints new vice president

February 8, 2017

The UW-River Falls Student Senate found themselves needing to fill the position of vice president this semester after Halan Tran, the last vice president, left the position vacant.

In light of this new opening, Student Senate President Chris Morgan was in charge of appointing a new vice president, since elections for Senate positions only run in the fall. Morgan said that there was a good set of candidates, but of the four who applied, he appointed James VandenBergh for the position. This choice was later confirmed by the rest of the Senate before becoming official.

VandenBergh, however, is already familiar with the duties of vice president because he has held this position before. Being the vice president during the previous spring semester, he could have run again for his position in this past fall semester but became the external relations director instead. When asked why he decided to apply to become vice president again he said he values “any opportunity to make a greater impact on student lives.”

VandenBergh having had previous experience is one of the many reasons Morgan picked him for the position. Morgan said that VandenBergh has shown “reliability, hard work ethic and proven leadership” in the past. Morgan continued by saying that VandenBergh is a “hard worker, knows what’s right and is willing to work for it.”

Going forward, VandenBergh said he plans on continuing his work with the It’s On Us campaign that he worked on as external relations director. He also is hoping to create a new student organization or committee that would focus on campus inclusivity and promoting diversity of different backgrounds and cultures. Morgan echoed this goal by saying he wanted his choice in vice president to be one that would “work to elevate tolerance.”

As vice president, VandenBergh will now be in charge of appointing students to fill empty seats within Student Senate, for the rest of Senate to confirm. VandenBergh said that “the vetting process can be difficult, you have to find out who just wants to build their resume and who wants to really make a difference.”

In addition to a new vice president, Student Senate has also decided to make the executive committee into an executive branch which can now veto Senate oversight. This gives the establishment a better checks and balances system since the president position had too much unchecked power before.

Due to this checks and balances relationship between student branches, an individual student cannot be in both the executive branch and Senate because they cannot vote twice. The exception to this rule is the president and vice president.

Morgan and VandenBergh agreed that the biggest issue they face on campus is student disengagement.

There are many positions currently open within student government. Though not all are voting positions, they are still very influential to the UWRF community and make sure different issues are heard and considered.