SGA senate nominee sparks debate in last meeting of the semester

Jack Dobbs

Student Body President Stephen Mayer made a nomination at Tuesday night’s meeting to fill a vacated Senate seat, igniting a discussion lasting about an hour and a half before the decision was called to a vote. 

Mayer’s nominee was graduate student Emily Anne Pride, daughter of former SGA adviser Charley Pride. Pride was up to fill the vacant Senate seat left by her younger brother, Will Pride, who resigned in November due to “personal and scheduling problems.”

After a session of technical questioning regarding Pride’s qualifications to the Senate, a rigorous round of debate ensued.

Senator Kara Lowry stated her lack of support for Pride and cited Pride’s work for Braxton Powell’s campaign for Student Body President. Lowry said she considered Powell controversial because of offensive social media posts directed toward Muslims.

“You worked for someone who made racist messages,” Lowry said. “People don’t just lose those beliefs.”

Public Relations chair Brigid Stakelum voiced her support of Pride and discussed Pride’s work representing SGA on the Graduate Council.

“She’s not just some stranger,” Stakelum said. “She represented SGA in an official capacity.”

Controversy also surrounded Mayer’s decision to nominate Pride. 

Mayer nominated WKU student Logan Hornback to fill a vacant Senate seat at its meeting on Oct. 17, and when the Senate voted on Hornback’s nomination, a lapse in the voting system reported her approval vote had failed. Mayer then wrote in an email to WKU graduate student James Baughm he would be nominated next for the same position.

However, the problem with the voting software was discovered later that night, and it was ruled Hornback actually had been elected to the Senate position. After Mayer announced Pride as his nominee on Tuesday, some thought Baughm should have been nominated. 

Mayer said he followed the application process for SGA nominations even though he has power to nominate anyone out of the student body.

A motion to table the approval vote was made but struck down in a 8-19-1 vote. Despite the rigorous debate session, Pride was eventually confirmed to the senate seat in a wide 17-9 vote with two abstentions.

Following this, SGA had 45 minutes to discuss and vote on two pieces of legislation.

The first, Bill 24-18-F, which was passed 28-0 was an organizational aid bill authored by Administrative Vice President Harper Anderson. It called for the allocation of $430 to the Black Leadership Academic Conference and will go toward renting out the Preston Center as well as paying two guest speakers to attend meetings, according to the bill’s description. Bill 24-18-F was passed 28-0.

The other legislation of the evening was Resolution 10-18-F, which calls for SGA to “support the denouncement of ‘Identity Evropa’ and its attempts to recruit members on WKU’s campus,” according to the resolution’s description. The resolution, authored by Executive Vice President Garrett Edmonds, along with Campus Improvements Committee Chair Matt Barr and WKU students Spencer Wells and Ashlynn Evans, passed 28-0.

SGA will continue with its weekly meetings in January 2019.

Reporter Jack Dobbs can be reached at 270-745-0655 and [email protected].