Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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ASG Senate elects new speaker and parliamentarian

Isaiah Steinberg/The Daily Northwestern
SESP senior Leah Ryzenman swears in Weinberg sophomore Grace Houren as speaker of the Senate.

The Associated Student Government Senate elected Weinberg sophomore Grace Houren as speaker of the Senate and McCormick sophomore James La Fayette Jr. as parliamentarian at its Wednesday meeting.

Houren, who previously served as parliamentarian, will succeed SESP senior Leah Ryzenman, who served as speaker for one year.

Along with the newly elected co-presidents and Executive Board members, Houren and La Fayette will take office during the sixth week of Spring Quarter.

As speaker, Houren said she hopes to establish a stronger connection with the administration, work with her deputy speaker to implement legislation and make Senate meetings more collaborative.

“I’m super excited,” Houren said. “I’m glad that everyone had confidence in me.”

Houren said she aims to help students feel their voices are being heard and represented through ASG.

Ryzenman said she admires Houren for taking initiative as parliamentarian on her ideas to improve ASG. Her past projects include a Code revision which allowed for remote Senate meetings and empowered the speaker and parliamentarian to propose legislation.

“I couldn’t imagine a better successor,” Ryzenman said. “She is one of the most proactive, detail-oriented and committed individuals I’ve had the pleasure of working with. We have worked extremely well together.”

La Fayette, who ran against Weinberg freshman and senator Eliza Marcus, said his goals as parliamentarian will be to make the Senate more accessible and make the Election Commission more transparent.

Weinberg senior and NU Active Minds Senator Ben Katz endorsed La Fayette for the position.

“Whenever there is a piece of legislation being discussed, his hand is one of the first ones raised,” Katz said. “He always gives good feedback and has good questions.”

During the meeting, members of the incoming Executive Board — appointed by Co-Presidents-Elect SESP sophomore Caleb Snead and Weinberg sophomore Ty’Shea Woods  — announced their plans for their respective committees.

Snead praised the incoming Executive Board members for their experience and commitment.

“They are an incredible bunch of incredibly intelligent people — extremely dedicated and committed to fostering a sense of belonging among the student body,” Snead said. “I really look forward to the work they’re going to do.”

As parliamentarian, La Fayette will lead the Rules Committee, which revises the ASG Code and Constitution and reviews legislation for constitutionality before it is voted on in the Senate. Rules Committee elections will take place at next week’s Senate meeting.

The Senate also passed a resolution to promote majority plant-based catering practices among student groups that receive ASG funding. The legislation requires annual organization training to include a presentation slide that provides information about sustainable catering options.

For the next several weeks, the outgoing speaker, parliamentarian, co-presidents and Executive Board will help acclimate the incoming officeholders.

During her four-year career in ASG, Ryzenman eliminated several formal Senate requirements to simplify procedure, helped establish the first Senate retreat in 2022, created an orientation process for new senators and implemented legislation working groups during Senate meetings. She also improved communication around Funding Senate for student groups and helped establish the Board of Financial Review and the New Student Organization Support Fund.

Ryzenman, who currently works at an Illinois state representative’s office, said she is interested in applying her knowledge of international affairs and diplomacy to help others in the future.

Ryzenman will support Houren as she transitions into her role as the next speaker of the Senate in the following weeks.

“I have been working alongside Leah for a year now,” Houren said. “I feel really prepared. She’s done a lot of great stuff and laid out the role perfectly for me to step into.”

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