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Sunday, December 21, 2014

November ballots fill Senate vacancies

Shank, Chang take seats left open by absences

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@zachpavlik

After various Associated Students of the University of New Mexico slates played their best cards in November’s senate election, fate would have it that the assembly got reshuffled.

These two senators were Earl Shank and Harold Chang. In the beginning of this semester, senators Derick Moreno and Meghan Maes resigned, leaving two spots open. Chang took the full-term seat left by Moreno, and Shank took the half-term left by Maes.

Although they garnered more votes than Chang and Shank during the fall elections, senatorial candidates Andrea Butler and Taryn Levels declined the vacated senatorial positions, leaving Chang and Shank to the job.

Shank, who studies business administration and sustainability, said senatorial positions get filled as they become vacant, so he was ultimately able to snag a seat.

“A number of different decisions were made,” Shank said. “I can’t speak to the personal reasons why any of those candidates who were elected to senate positions decided that it wasn’t for them or they had another opportunity, but that did happen. The way the constitution works is that as seats open up they are filled according to the next highest vote receiver.”

Chang was unavailable for comment before publication time.

This is Shank’s third semester serving in the ASUNM Senate. He said that serving in the senate is a great way to give back to the University.

“I think ASUNM is an excellent opportunity to have an impact at the university” he said. “What really drove my position was that I was on scholarship, and so it was my opinion that I was receiving a lot from the University, and it was my role to try to give back in some capacity.”

One of Shank’s past projects was the Green Fund, a fund organized through UNM’s Sustainability department aimed at providing more sustainable options for the University community. He said he would continue to chair the Green Fund Committee in his current term.

“(The Green Fund) was initially approved at, somewhere in the ballpark, shy of $50,000,” Shank said. “It needs to be approved by the Strategic Budget Leadership Team. But yes, I am very much still working on that. I think it’s incredibly important that future Lobos and attendees of UNM have access to the same sort of resources that we have.”

Shank said that some of his goals for his upcoming semester in the senate included work with the governing documents and the smoking policy.

“The really tangible things I would like to look at (are) just improving systems that we have within ASUNM,” Shank said. “There are some minor changes I would like to make to the governing documents. I’d like to look into the smoking policy … making sure the greatest good can be had for the most students.”

However, Shank said he believes his role on the senate is taking a new form.

“I think that my role on senate is moving away from what it has been earlier. I’ve written a lot of legislation over my past full term on senate,” Shank said. “We have a lot of new senators who haven’t necessarily written legislation and they’re going to be great. And [my role] is just providing them with the tools necessary to do that.”

ASUNM sets this teamwork as a priority, said student government vice president Brandon Meyers.

“That’s my job,” Meyers said. “When they come in (the senate) I’m like, ‘Well, now I’ve got to get them beyond ‘I was the pink team, you were the green team.’ I need to quickly break down that slate system, what that slate system imposes.’ It usually dies off.”

Meyers said this idea is reflected in Shank’s view of the slate system and what it means to be an ASUNM senator as well. He said he is happy to have Shank back in his senate roster.

“It is incredibly valuable to not have the group thing in senate,” Shank said. “What we say is after the election, that’s done. Everyone’s a senator. You’re part of the senate, and your job is to represent students. You’re representing students first and serving on committees second.”

The ASUNM elections for the upcoming fall semester will be held on April 9.