Tart and Adams discuss 2021-22 ASG cabinet picks

With the end of the semester approaching, Allegheny Student Government President-elect Noah Tart, ’22, and Vice-President-elect Sophie Adams, ’22, have finalized their cabinet appointees.

Attorney General Jack Parker, ’22, is the only cabinet member to retain his position, though Gena Pena, ’22, and Crystal Hernandez, ’23 will also remain on cabinet, transitioning from Co-Directors of Student Affairs to Chief of Staff and Director of Organizational Development, respectively.

The rest of the cabinet includes Parliamentarian Rachael Harris, ’23; Director of the Treasury Lucas Biniewski, ’23; Director of Diversity and Inclusion Jennifer Peralta, ’22; Director of Communications and Press Ryder Sullivan, ’22; Director of Student Affairs Elizabeth Graham, ’22; Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs Andi Reiser, ’23; and Director of Community Relations Kyrié Doniz, ’23.

“We had an abundance of qualified candidates,” Tart said. “Obviously, we can’t take everybody, unfortunately. So we went about it choosing who could best work with us to make sure that our vision could become true.”

Tart explained that he and Adams collectively put a lot of thought into selecting cabinet members, saying that they both spent a significant amount of time pondering each applicant’s interview.

“We spoke with previous presidents of ASG about the way they went about it.” Tart said. “We talked with Camila (Gomez), ’19, who was the president in 2018. She had this very, nice little way of putting it: it’s picking people that we can trust to always work with us, for us and making sure that our cabinet within itself has a lot of charisma between all points. It is in our constitution that our job as ASG is to best crystallize the students and represent the students holistically.”

The process was more complex, Adams elaborated, because a number of applicants applied for multiple positions at once.

“It was a bit of a puzzle to figure out where everyone would fit best,” Adams said. “There were several positions that we were very much back and forth on.”

Adams expressed excitement toward the diverse list of individuals they selected for their cabinet.

“I think it’s also going to be really fun because there are more women on this cabinet than there usually are,” Adams said. “(The only men are) Noah, Lucas and Jack. And then we also have four students of color, which was not a specific goal; we weren’t trying to make a quota, but are really making sure that we have representation from the student body and as many different facets as possible was important.”

A unique return in the 2021-22 ASG Cabinet is the Parliamentarian position, which was removed several constitutional revisions ago, according to Tart. Tart hopes the reimplementation of the role will return parliamentary procedure to ASG affairs.

“ASG follows Robert’s Rules of Order, which a lot of governing bodies follow — I mean, US Congress follows it,” Tart said. “Going into next year, we would like to see it back because (meetings) will be in-person. It helps a lot with the efficiency of the way that ASG runs and ensures that our meetings are concrete and we’re doing things smoothly.”

Harris, the selected Parliamentarian, is excited to start in the position next fall.

“ I’m looking forward to being able to resurrect this role, but (also) to working with all of the other cabinet members and bringing together a vision of the constitution that maybe hasn’t been seen since 2009,” Harris said. “Just really making this constitution a living, breathing document that will reflect the changes that the current student body wants to see.”

Tart and Adams expressed that Harris’s experience makes her the perfect candidate for this role.

“Recently, I’ve worked on several campaigns, both local and national, and I’ve worked with a couple of advocacy groups,” Harris said. “I’m also a CPP fellow, a law and policy student and a pre-law student at Allegheny, so I’m really interested in this kind of stuff. And I feel that I have an interesting perspective with my disciplines and with my experience to really hone in on making this constitution awesome.”

Tart hopes that the position will also assist in the resolving of a hot topic issue among cabinet applicants — voting reform.

“(Harris will) work closely with (Parker) to ensure that our election guidelines are up-to-date (and) to make sure that our constitution is best reflecting what we should be doing for the students,” Tart said. “Moreover, she’ll play a very vital role in the elections as well.”

With Harris’s installment, Tart is seeking to increase the efficiency and efficacy of ASG in all its affairs.

“Parliamentary procedure is very important to the functionality of how a body governs,” Tart said. “We can talk about anything for X amount of time and get nowhere with it, but having a parliamentarian to advise us on the procedures that we have in play, as well as what’s within our constitution, our guidelines or bylaws — things along those lines play a very vital role in ensuring that we as a cabinet are doing our best to follow the rules that we have created in the past and continue to revise. (Harris will) help with making sure that everyone feels up to date with how Robert’s Rules function.”

Although some departments are under new leadership, Tart explained that he is seeking to continue old projects and incorporate those put forth by the new cabinet members.

“The water bottle refill station project is in the works currently, and will continue to be,” Tart said. “We think sustainability is a vital part of our college. Within academia, we are a pretty highly-ranked school for environmental science, and (Reiser) had some incredible ideas. She ran the June Cup initiative, and now she wants to do worm compost, which is highly sustainable.”

Adams remarked on how impressed she was with applicants’ ideas and other continuing programs.

“Something that I think came out of the interviews was that every time that we had someone come in, it was just like, ‘Wow, I didn’t think about that,’” Adams said. “They brought ideas that could really parallel our goals. (Pena is) currently the director of student affairs and she’s taken on the menstrual product dispensers across campus. And while she won’t be the chief director of student affairs — she’ll be our chief of staff — that project isn’t going anywhere. Next year’s Director of Student Affairs, Liz Graham, will continue working on that.”

Tart is looking toward the future with positivity, remarking that a lot of good is to come now that there is more relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I really feel that next year is going to be a year of regrowth for the college as a whole,” Tart said. “We firmly believe that these individuals will be able to help from the students’ side, the administration will have its own rebuilding and restructuring (for) the college past the pandemic. We strongly believe that these students are very qualified to help bring the student experience involved in the aspects that ASG plays in the lives of students to fruition.”

The cabinet was pitched at this week’s ASG General Assembly. Tart hopes to hold a vote on their confirmation next week.