Student Association elected Ryan Silvestri as the new Speaker on Monday night, with 13 yes votes and three votes of no confidence.
The move came after former Speaker Nora Lipetzky resigned effective immediately Feb. 5. SA cleared its action items from Feb. 11’s already scheduled meeting to accept nominations for Speaker. Silvestri was the only member nominated during the meeting. He needed 75 percent of the votes to successfully be elected as Speaker.
Silvestri, a Vanguard reporter, outlined his three main goals as SA Speaker before members moved into a discussion over the nominations. His first goal was to empower future SA leaders.
“We have so many people who have done great things here,” he said. “We could do so much more with more guidance and leadership. That’s something we lacked with the last Speaker. In the big picture, what are we here to do? Empower our students and create a better campus.”
Silvestri’s second goal was recruiting more members to SA.
“It seems like we lose a representative every week,” he said. “We need more members to represent our student body.”
His last goal was to ensure that being in SA was an enjoyable experience for representatives.
“We all joined SA for a reason,” he said, “but the bottom line is you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t passionate about it. We’re all here together, so let’s make the best of it.”
After a brief presentation, SA moved into a question and answer session. One member asked Silvestri what skills make him a good candidate for Speaker.
“I have two skills that make me stand out,” he said. “The first is time management. I do prioritize what’s important. You’ll never see me on campus without my planner. The second one … is communication. It’s a skill that’s being diminished in a way because so few people can talk to people face to face.”
Members also asked him about his other time commitments and how to hold SA representatives more accountable.
“We have our bylaws, our charter,” Silvestri said. “They’re there for a reason. As long as you’re staying true to that and following the bylaws and charter, it’s pretty cut and dry.”
Folllwing a discussion about Silvestri’s presentation and skills, SA voted Silvestri in as Speaker with 13 yeses, three votes of no confidence and one abstention, as Silvestri could not vote for himself.
After drawing the meeting to a close for the first time as Speaker, Silvestri said the midsemester transition would be challenging.
“It’s the transition that’s difficult – just the immediate uncertainty that comes with a new thing like this,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to it. It’s nothing I can’t do or handle.”
He said he hopes to get started quickly on helping representatives feel more connected to leadership and SA in general.
“Getting acquainted with the initial job of Speaker will be a shock, but I think it will be easy for me to bring everyone together and finish out these 11 weeks with a positive attitude,” he said. “The biggest thing with bridging the disconnect with leadership and representatives is going to come from setting clear standards. If we can do that, we will be fine.”
Silvestri also said he plans on working on SA’s recruitment and retention issues as soon as possible.
“We have a lot of open spots within SA right now,” he said. “It’s over 30, and we have 17 representatives right now. Everyone here has friends on campus, so that’s the biggest thing we can draw on. Bring in your friends. These are people who are similar to us and who can bring more value to what we’re doing.”
He said he looks forward to the challenge the new role will bring him.
“The rest of the semester is going to be really impactful,” he said. “There’s a lot of SA initiatives we’re doing. I’m looking forward to the new role and the opportunity it’ll be for me.”
SA President Hunter Koch said he was glad the process went “smoothly and quickly.”
“I’m looking forward to the next 11 weeks,” he said. “Speaker Silvestri and I will be meeting here very shortly to get things turned around. We’re picking up the pieces and running forward.”
Koch said Silvestri brings “some unique qualities to the table.”
“I look forward to seeing how those qualities bring a different type of leadership to the Association,” Koch said. “His off-campus leadership skills and my off-campus leadership skills will set us up to work pretty well together.”
Although Lipetzky’s sudden resignation came as a surprise to SA, Koch said he is optimistic for the future.
“I’m glad we’re moving forward,” he said. “[Lipetzky’s resignation] was a shock, and here, standing five days after the resignation, I don’t think we could be in a better position. We’re set and ready to move forward. “