By Jessica McKenna, Contributing Writer 

Newly elected senator Sam O'Neal. (Photo by Jessica McKenna)

Newly elected senator Sam O’Neal. (Photo by Jessica McKenna)

The UMF Student Senate held a special election at a recent weekly meeting to fill the general assembly seat that has been vacant since the beginning of the spring semester

The election was held during a normal senate meeting and any student who paid the student activity fee was welcomed to run. The senate is comprised of 19 general assembly seats and 6 executive board members, but coming into the spring semester due to a student transfer a seat on the general assembly became vacant. Sam O’Neal was the only candidate who ran and was voted in by a unanimous ballot with  21 members of senate voting yes.

O’Neal a Computer Science major, in his junior year, was given a chance to speak to the members of the senate on why he wanted the position. “I’m part of the computer club and I would like to represent them,” said O’Neal “I want to be more involved on campus and to not only be involved in one club but the entire process.”

Many members of senate welcomed O’Neal Monday night as he joined his fellow senators for the remainder of the meeting. The new senator voted on four proposals brought before senate after his election. Student Senate Secretary Meagan O’Reilly was pleased to finally have a full senate again. “It has been hard because the senator that left was very active in committees and provoked discussion during meetings.”  

Senator Matt Lulofs, a two-year veteran of the senate, said that this election was very beneficial to the senate. “We will have another mind when voting and getting information out there,” he said, “it’s always helpful to have new faces and opinions when deciding on issues.”

O’Neal said he will spend the spring semester familiarizing himself with senate procedures and the upcoming budgets process. The new senator has the opportunity to fill open seats on two committees but no positions were appointed at the weekly meeting.

All senators are required to hold two office hours per week, to discuss student questions and club matters. Lulofs said, “The most important part of being a senator is being fair to everyone and to not be biased and just focus on your own interests.”

With only half the school year remaining and elections coming next fall O’Neal said: “I would like to run again in the fall because so far it has been an incredible experience.” All senators will be up for reelection in the fall and will be voted in by the student body.

The Student Senate has a full schedule for the rest of the semester with club budgets being reviewed, Spring Fling, The Leadership Banquet, and various proposals being submitted.