By Thomas Mott | Reporter
The Baylor Student Senate swore in five new freshman senators on Thursday in front of a full Student Senate chamber at the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation. What seemed like an exciting, lighthearted affair was really the culmination of months of disagreement inside the Senate, Cypress senior and Senate Parliamentarian Chris Seals said.
Freshman elections are supposed to take place on Sept. 20, according to the Baylor Electoral Code. On that date this past semester, 13 freshman were elected and sworn into their new Senate positions, or so they thought, Seals said. A few days after the election, on Sept. 29, Keller freshman Shelby Hillebrand, a candidate who was not elected on Sept. 20, filed a petition against the Baylor Electoral Commission.
After the Sept. 20 election in which Hillebrand was not elected, she realized that nine of the candidates who did get elected had failed to submit their Campaign Expense Reports on time, according to the Student Court case. Expense Reports are to be submitted by Sept.16 as required in the Electoral Code (Electoral Code §2.3.6).
The nine candidates who failed to submit their reports on time were granted an extended deadline by the Electoral Commission because the commission failed to specify the expense report’s due date on the provided campaign calendar.
Hillebrand argued that the Electoral Commission is not allowed to provide an extension for the expense report without first consulting the Senate. The Electoral Code, which all candidates are required to read, clearly states that each candidate must meet these deadlines.
In the court case Hillebrand v. Electoral Commission, the court sided with Hillebrand’s argument that those who did not follow the code could not become student senators.
“Therefore, candidates who failed to meet the deadline according to §2.3.6 should have been removed from the original ballot. The Commission erred firstly by failing to publish the calendar with all deadlines, including the deadline for the submission of expense reports, and secondly by failing to obtain Senate approval before changing the Code. Candidates who failed to meet the first deadline, as defined in §2.3.6, failed to meet their burden to read and follow the Code,” according to the Hillebrand v. Electoral Commission case opinion.
Following the decision, the nine elected student senators who did not follow the code became ineligible and were no longer senators.
A second election was held in which five new senators were elected and sworn in this Thursday. The formerly elected senators were allowed to run again, but Hillebrand and some other candidates chose not to run again, Seals said.
These new freshmen are now a part of Student Senate, which maintains its one main goal: helping Baylor students.
“We try to find issues that students have that is within our purview to bring up to administration, and then we fix it,” Seals said.
The new senators seem fully on board with this objective.
“I’m honored to be able to represent our freshman class and just support the university as a whole,” said San Jose, Calif., freshman Allison Lee. “Leadership is a really important thing to me. I think it is really important that we can have representatives be a voice for others.”
Although the five were recently sworn in, their jobs are no different from seasoned senators, Seals said.
“A freshman senator coming in, they are expected to do everything any other class senator is,” Seals said.
The Baylor Student Senate meets at 5 p.m. in the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation every Thursday. The meetings are open to the public.