This story has been updated.
Sen. Matt Buckwald (COL ’20) resigned from his position in the GUSA Senate on Aug. 30, according to an email sent the same day by the GUSA Senate account.
Buckwald, who was elected for the first time last fall to fill an open seat, was serving as the transition Chair of the Finance and Appropriations committee.
The Senate elected Sen. Harrison Nugent (SFS ’20) as the new Transition FinApp Chair to replace Buckwald at their Sept. 8 meeting.
Nugent, who had lost to Buckwald in the original election for Transition FinApp chair, beat Sen. Sam Dubke (SFS ’21) by three votes.
Both candidates emphasized their prior experience that would allow them to be successful in the position, as they had served on FinApp the previous year, but Nugent earned support due to his strong enthusiasm for the job.
Senators cited Nugent’s clear interest in the position as one of his main advantages, especially as he said he would like to run for chair of FinApp after the transition period had finished. When asked, Dubke said he was not sure if he would seek the position. Sen. Layla Weiss (MSB ’22) stressed how beneficial it would be to elect a transition chair who was dedicated to the committee.
Debate between the candidates centered around the issue of GUSA Fund, a group that has traditionally used money from the student activities fee to help support clubs that are not fully funded through the normal FinApp process. Before his resignation, Buckwald had crafted legislation to abolish the fund after accusations of abuse of funds has come to light in recent years.
Nugent said that he was a strong supporter of the legislation, and that his first act would be to present it to the full Senate. Dubke acknowledged the problems with GUSA Fund but said the Senate should take advantage of the already existing group and their ability to provide discretionary funding. “It would be better to fix it than it would be to destroy it,” Dubke said.
In support for Dubke, Sen. Zev Burton (SFS ’22) raised concerns about Nugent’s ability to handle the position. Nugent has served as communications chair this summer, and Burton is his vice-chair.
Burton expressed that he had been doing most of the work for the communications team. “I have not heard from him all summer,” he said. “I have a lot of trouble casting my vote for someone who has not had a good work ethic, at least over the summer.”
While Burton’s comments garnered discussion, it was not enough to block Nugent’s assumption of the post.
The Senate will hold an election for the permanent chair of FinApp, as well as the other committees later this fall, once senators from the class of 2023 are elected.