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Sen. Ethan Madappatt Selected as New Senate Chair

By Shawn Ness | April 29, 2024

Senator Emma Rennard and Senator Ethan Madappatt of the Student Association Senate shake hands after the Senate Chair Elections.

Photo Credit: Shawn Ness / The ASP

In their final meeting of the year, the University at Albany Student Association hosted the annual Senate Chair Elections, in which Senator Ethan Madappatt beat out his challenger, Senator Emma Rennard.

To begin the festivities, both candidates went through the usual motions of explaining their accomplishments and past work with the Senate. Rennard, who was recently reelected as Empire Commons Senator, has served as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Government Oversight (SOGO), secretary of Mock Trial, and a member of the Honors College. Madappatt has served in similar roles, most recently as the Chair of the Ethics Committee, and former intern to the Vice Chair in 2022.

The elections took place in three rounds: first were questions submitted by the Elections Commission and then questions from fellow Senators, and ending in debates with the candidates outside of the room. 

Rules and Administration Chair Dylan Klein posed the first question: How will you uphold the Student Association to protect its members to freely and openly discuss sensitive topics?

Rennard said that what it would come down to is the ability to quickly make decisions on if someone has gone beyond sharing their concerns to bullying people, which SA has grappled with in the past.

“We've had times in the past where directors have come and they've been asked questions that are just statements and people yelling at them. And that's not a way to treat administration. That's not a way to treat other students. I think it just comes down to holding senators to a higher standard,” Rennard explained. 

Madappatt had a different approach, which entailed the distribution of hard-copies of the Senate’s ethics rules to all members of the body.

“Once every Student Association official has that physical copy of our code of ethics, they can use that in every single senate meeting every single time we are stationed in a setting that we are acting as our official rules to protect themselves and understand what they are and what protects them [Senators],” he said.  

Senator Trevor Pettit took a different approach in his line of questioning and asked how their roles as committee chairs have directly equipped them to lead the Senate and what their accomplishments as chairs are. 

“For this semester, we had quick, efficient meetings. I think we were able to schedule them as well as we physically could, because we all are doing like a million and a half different things. So I think I'm very proud of my ability to, to organize the committee to the best of my ability,” Rennard explained. 

Madappatt explained that during his committee’s ethics violation investigations, all of his members approached the investigations with open minds to not pre-determine anything, and that was something he was very proud of overseeing as the Chair. 

The body then went into debate over the two candidates while Rennard and Madappatt stepped out into the hallway, leaving their phones behind with the Elections Commission.

Klein made the first debate point. He said that it was a pleasure watching Rennard as the SOGO Chair and that he was excited to see her visions enacted within the body.

“Senator Rennard is ready, willing and able to serve as your next chair and I urge you all to support her nomination. I was one of the people to encourage Senator Rennard to seek this position. Because I witnessed firsthand with her serving as my senior ranking member the leadership capabilities that she had within, and I believe Senator Rennard, if elected next chair, is going to enact a new bold vision for this body…” Klein said. 

Pettit explained that when he first decided he wanted to run for Senate, that Madappatt was helpful to him and pushed him in the right direction. 

“He took the time not only to receptively answer all my questions, but to meet with me one on one, to walk me through the Senate process, all the different opportunities available, whether that be in the Senate, interning executive and everything in between,” Pettit said. “I say this because both candidates talk the talk of promoting inclusivity and getting new folks involved in Senate and in my experience Ethan definitely walks the walk.”

Senator Gina Smith shared similar sentiments about Rennard.

“Emma [Rennard] has been very forthcoming towards me, she's been very helpful. And I think she's very ambitious and is definitely someone that I look up to in this body. And I also think that having a new fresh face and having a new fresh perspective from someone who is not super ingrained in everything is also really beneficial at times,” Smith said.

Senator Enid Walker pointed out that for Madappatt to say he champions sustainability and to then want to distribute paper copies of bills to be “ironic.” 

“It was just a bit confusing as to why he was supporting sustainability, but is also printing out more papers and decided to give it out to all of us which I know we could all see the teams or whatever the bylaws,” Walker said. 

Senator Luther Kohout and newly-elected Senator Sean Millington pointed to Madappatt’s previous positions as an intern to the Vice Chair.

“We shouldn't underestimate that. If he gets elected, he'll go into that role and he'll have all that experience to back them up and he'll have insights and knowledge and ideas from those positions on how to improve things,” Kohout said.

That brought the debate to an end and for the Senators to be called back in after casting their votes privately on paper.  

In only one round of voting, Madappatt won decisively with 82.6 percent of the votes casted. His term as Chair will begin next academic year.


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