The Missouri Students Association Operations chairman Benjamin Bolin, junior, was elected the next MSA Senate speaker Feb. 26.
Bolin was nominated by Academic Affairs chairman Ben Vega two weeks ago.
Budget chairwoman Shelby Catalano and Student Affairs chairman Mitchell Moonier spoke on behalf of Bolin at Senate on Feb. 26.
“(Ben) took the time to reach out to everyone in MSA. … He took the time to listen,” Catalano said in her speech. “He came here, took the criticisms … and came back better than before.”
Moonier praised Bolin for his attention to the MSA Constitution and Bylaws and his attention to building relationships at MU.
“(Ben) is the epitome of why we should be here,” Moonier said.
Bolin, in his nomination speech, said he envisioned Senate doing three things: empowering everyone’s voices, improving relationships on campus and remembering whom they are.
“I want to help you …,” Bolin said. “The speaker’s main responsibility is to be a resource to each of you.”
Bolin has been part of MSA since September 2011. He ended up in the Operations Committee about two weeks into his first month. More than two years later, Bolin decided to run for Senate speaker.
Since then, he has created a list of goals he wants to accomplish as speaker.
“To always serve the Senate body — that’s the biggest thing ... about the Senate speaker position,” Bolin said. “The No. 1 goal is to help write legislation, to be a resource to each of the brilliant minds we have inside that chamber.”
The next item on Bolin’s agenda is to “make the barrier to entry for Senate lower.”
Bolin said he has been talking with individuals in MSA about changing the way the MSA Senate orientation is handled. The retreat is where senators learn MSA parliamentary procedures and are instructed on writing legislation.
“We’d like everybody to handle debates effectively,” Bolin said. “When controversial legislation comes up, we need to be able to, as a Senate, recognize how these conversations play out, how we should keep our temperatures in check so that we can be most productive as possible.”
Bolin also praised former Senate Speaker Mckenzie Morris for her alterations of the MSA Senate attendance policy.
“That was a fantastic change on her part,” Bolin said.
The Senate used to allow four absences. During her term, Morris changed the policy to allow MSA Senators three total absences between Tuesday committee meetings and Full Senate on Wednesday.
“We (as senators) have a service to students,” Bolin said. “If you can’t show up and be there for the students, then why are you here?”
Bolin’s competition for the Senate speaker position was MSA Senate Clerk Jacob McKinley. Bolin won the election by one vote, 19-18.
McKinley was nominated by Josh Boehm. McKinley had also been planning to run since December.
As Senate speaker, McKinley’s goals would have been to increase transparency and communication between the senators and the student body.
At Full Senate on Feb. 26, McKinley said he would be stepping down as clerk so Bolin could begin reviewing applications for his own clerk.
“It was a battle to the end, but Ben (Bolin) is going to be a great person for the job,” McKinley said. “I plan on finishing my semester as a senator, … and then I’ll be done with MSA, probably.”