Associated Student Government Senate rejects several executive board nominees

Sheng Wu (left) is sworn in as technology vice president at the Associated Student Government meeting Wednesday evening. Three other nominees for executive board were also confirmed at the meeting, while three were rejected.

Skylar Zhang/Daily Senior Staffer

Sheng Wu (left) is sworn in as technology vice president at the Associated Student Government meeting Wednesday evening. Three other nominees for executive board were also confirmed at the meeting, while three were rejected.

Sophia Bollag, Copy Chief

Three of the seven nominees for Associated Student Government’s open executive positions were blocked by Senate on Wednesday night, the first time in three years that nominees have not been confirmed.

At the end of the meeting, ASG president Ani Ajith, a former Daily staffer, expressed his disappointment with the proceedings.

“This past week alone, we were dealing with multiple crises with no team,” Ajith said. “Today we are walking away with only half a team.”

Senators rejected Weinberg junior Stephanie Hong for chief of staff, Weinberg sophomore Julia Watson for public relations vice president and Medill sophomore Stephen Piotrkowski for associate vice president of diversity and inclusion.

“It was a stressful and contentious Senate,” Natalie Furlett, ASG faculty adviser and director for student involvement, told The Daily after the meeting. “People are very passionate, which is wonderful. I think they could have used better decorum in some cases, and I think that there were some very qualified candidates that were overlooked.”

Before the votes, the three nominees who were later not confirmed faced extended questioning, during which senators challenged their stances and qualifications. Parliamentarian Abby Klearman, a McCormick junior, frequently asked for audience members to stop whispering among themselves and for senators to stop interrupting one another.

The last time Senate voted not to confirm a nominee for an executive board position was in spring 2010.

Carly Blumenfeld, outgoing chief of staff and a Weinberg junior, said some of the same concerns from 2010 impacted the votes Wednesday.

“From my understanding, it was seen as nepotistic … which is very similar to what happened this year,” she told The Daily.

Even though she served on the cabinet selection committee as outgoing chief of staff, Blumenfeld was not able to participate in the nominating process for her position because she applied to serve for another year.

Hayley Stevens, outgoing associate vice president for diversity and inclusion, described Senate’s decision to not confirm three nominees as “unheard of.” As a voting member of the cabinet selection committee, Stevens defended the decision to nominate Piotrkowski to replace her.

“I really just don’t think that people were listening to what he has to offer,” she told The Daily. “He is very, very passionate about this, and, honestly, he was our best candidate.”

Stevens said knowledge of other applicants for the positions clouded the discussions about whether to confirm some of the nominees.

“It shifted the entire conversation,” Stevens said. “If people on exec and the candidates themselves had kept quiet and didn’t reveal anything, this wouldn’t be a problem.”

The names of the applicants who are not nominated for positions are not supposed to be known to those outside of the cabinet selection committee. Stevens said it was unusual that the names were leaked this year during the nomination process.

Blumenfeld also said she was displeased with the way the nomination process had been handled, especially in regards to Hong’s selection.

“I think she was put in a very uncomfortable position,” Blumenfeld said. “I was disappointed by the fact that she was nominated.”

The Senate voted to confirm the other four nominees: McCormick junior and former Daily staffer Sheng Wu for technology vice president, Weinberg sophomore Noah Kane for services vice president, Weinberg freshman Kevin Harris for community relations vice president and Weinberg junior Wesley Lien for associate vice president of sustainability.

Ajith said the executive board positions that were not confirmed at Wednesday’s meeting will be treated as vacant seats, and the application process will have to restart. He said the procedure typically takes two to three weeks.

“Definitely not having a full exec board will hamstring us,” Ajith said. “This government will run … not at peak efficiency, but that’s to be expected. It’s a transition time.”