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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Senate nominee approved, put to work”

    ASUA President Tommy Bruce announces its new senator, Ezekiel Gebrekidane, in the Agave Room of the Student Union Memorial Center yesterday. Gebrekidane was appointed to the position after Sen. James Pennington-McQueens protest resignation.
    ASUA President Tommy Bruce announces its new senator, Ezekiel Gebrekidane, in the Agave Room of the Student Union Memorial Center yesterday. Gebrekidane was appointed to the position after Sen. James Pennington-McQueen’s protest resignation.

    When ASUA held it’s senate meeting last night, it did so with 10 senators for the first time in a month.

    Ezekiel Gebrekidane was approved last night to fill the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Senate seat left vacant by the protest resignation of former Sen. James Pennington-McQueen.

    ASUA President Tommy Bruce chose the chemistry senior as a nominee earlier this week. Gebrekidane was notified of his nomination yesterday morning hours before the senate passed his nomination unanimously.

    “”It gives me a great honor to be part of ASUA,”” Gebrekidane said. “”I am looking forward to this opportunity, and I’m hungry to learn at the same time.””

    Gebrekidane is no stranger to ASUA. He has worked with ASUA officials in the past to champion causes associated with student equality on campus for clubs like Caring for the Advancement of Refugee Education. This selection gives the new senator the best ability to impact ASUA with just a five-week term, Bruce said.

    “”I think he brings an enlightened perspective and something different to ASUA,”” he said. “”He’s a very genuine person. He’s definitely in it for the right reasons.””

    Gebrekidane was nominated six times, more than any other candidate. Even with the overwhelming support for Gebrekidane, the nomination decision was not an easy one, Bruce said.

    “”It was a very pleasant and heartwarming opportunity to read through the nominations,”” he said. “”But one stood above the rest.””

    The new senator’s first night on the job was an eventful one.

    The senate approved the allocation of $4,200 from senate funding to August and January events put on by A-Town, an effort that spreads equality and awareness of diversity. The approval all but wraps up senate funding for this year, as just under $500 is left to pay for miscellaneous costs, including telephone bills.

    Senators Lauren Abbott, Brent Hanson and Mark Copoulos opposed the funding, as the vote passed 6-3. So that proper discussion could take place between the senators, Jessica Anderson, ASUA executive vice president, suggested the item be tabled for a week. Copoulos moved to table the item twice, only to be objected each time.

    “”I was disappointed with the vote today,”” Copoulos said. “”If there were questions out there, they should have been properly discussed.””

    Sen. Seema Patel expressed her concerns first over the item. The number of participants in the events seemed inflated at 250 people, she said.

    “”There is a right way to go about A-Town, and there is a wrong way,”” Patel said. “”And I believe we have been doing it the wrong way.””

    With around 600 clubs on campus, Abbott felt uncomfortable giving all of the remaining money to one cause, Abbott said.

    With both A-Town events taking place during next year’s senate term, it makes more sense to fund current events and clubs, Hanson said.

    “”We can fund clubs for this year. I’m just not OK with this much money,”” he said. “”It is not the responsibility of this year’s senate to fund next year’s senate projects.””

    Copoulos had questions about specific costs of the funding and thought that enough concerns were raised to warrant tabling the item, Copoulos said.

    “”You’re acting like you’re entitled to those funds,”” he said to Sen. Dustin Cox, who is a chief supporter of A-Town. “”You’re trying to insinuate that if we don’t approve, we are somehow unsupportive of A-Town.””

    Cox was offended at the opposing comments and said his integrity had been called into question.

    “”I’m not sure why this level of scrutiny is going into this,”” Cox said. “”We can do this right now.””

    When a multi-thousand dollar project is being discussed, it should be treated as a serious issue rather than an attack on an individual, Copoulos said.

    “”I’m sorry if you were offended, but it’s not about you,”” he said to Cox.

    It is important that the senate pass the funding this year, so that next year’s senate is not left with a mess on their hands, Cox said.

    “”It will not be possible for next year’s senate to allocate this from their budget,”” Cox said. “”There’s nothing not transparent about this. It’s as opaque as it can be.””

    In his first vote as a senator, Gebrekidane voted to approve the A-Town item and said it was the right thing to do in order to positively affect the people involved.

    “”Whenever you put money on the floor, there’s going to be a fight, but it’s worth fighting for,”” Gebrekidane said. “”In the end, it’s about making a difference.””

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