USG to reconsider legislation that would create a Jewish constituency senator position


Sid Peterson

The Old Capitol is seen on Sunday, March 21, 2021.

Brady Osborne, News Reporter

The Undergraduate Student Government will reconsider adding a Jewish constituency senator position, after previously voting the legislation down.

The senate voted to reconsider the bill, titled SSB-17, at the next meeting on April 6. Ninety-three percent of senators voted to reconsider.

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, the legislation failed to pass the senate at the previous USG meeting on March 24, with 24 senators voting yes, three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

The legislation was reintroduced by Sen. Lauren Salloum, who was not a member of the original legislators who drafted the legislation.

Sen. Paul Richards said in an interview with the DI that SSB-17 is anti-discimination legislation, and it is USG’s job to protect their constituents from all forms of discrimination on campus.

“I would be ignoring the needs of my constituency, and the duties of my office by not taking actions to prevent that discrimination and advocate for the representation on all marginalized identities on campus,” Richards said.

Richards said one of the main reasons for this reconsideration was the backlash USG received from the Jewish community on campus.

Many students reached out after this vote, saying that they didn’t know the vote was happening, and that they were disappointed with the result of the vote, he said.

“After the initial turn down last week, we held a pre-scheduled USG-GPSG town hall, in which we had a very large outcry of students from the Jewish community,” Richards said. “They were very upset and expressed their concerns about the failure to pass this legislation.”

Another reason cited by the senators arguing for reconsideration was a hang-up on the purpose of constituency senators in general. Only three of the eight positions have a candidate running for them this election season. Richards said these positions will soon be restructured, but for now they are important positions, and Jewish people deserve to be considered in these discussions.

“There are a variety of ways in which constituency senators can be appointed, and we have recently learned that there is a task force soon to be charged to restructure and reorganize the constituency senators,” Richards said. “We thought it was imperative that Jewish students be a part of this conversation, which is why we have pushed the issue in the way that we have.”

Sen. Prakruti Pancholi said she is hopeful that senators who would vote against this legislation propose their own amendments to make it a bill that everyone is happy with.

“We’re really pushing for opposing senators to draft their own amendments and bring them to senate next week and show us how they want to change the legislation,” Pancholi said. “We are all open, we are all amenable to changes. We just need to know what those changes are going to be.”

The vote to reconsider the legislation was passed with a 93 percent majority. SSB-17 will be debated, amended, and voted on in the USG meeting on April 6.

Editor’s Note: Sen. Lauren Salloum reintroduced the bill to USG on Tuesday. Her name was added in for clarification.