Motion to Amend (feat. Kyle Saavedra)

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Addendum: Motion to Amend (feat. Kyle Saavedra)

Hosted by Raven Yamamoto


For the inaugural episode of The Addendum’s third season, ASLMU’s Speaker of the Senate Kyle Saavedra talks about the proposal that he and his colleagues just passed to change the framework of ASLMU — and the future of student government on the Bluff. 



This is the Addendum, Agency's news podcast, where we go beyond the page and to the people and dive deep into the issues that really matter to our lions. And if there's anyone who knows what really matters to our lions it's today's guest, Kyle Saavedra, the speaker of the ASLMU Senate. 

If you're wondering what that even means, he's kind of like the Nancy Pelosi of our student government, you know, the one that leads the meetings sets the agenda, manages the other senators and serves as the liaison between the Senate and our student body president Jack Palen and vice-president Elsie Mares. 

Kyle joined ASLMU’s programming committee in his first year at LMU, eager to get involved on campus and make an impact.

He went on to become a Senator for the College of Fine Arts his sophomore year before working his way up to the speaker's chair, where he sits today as a junior. Now, as an ASMU veteran, Kyle has seen the incredible things that student government is capable of, but he's also seen its flaws and its shortcomings on an organizational level.

Some of those flaws include having too many positions, unclear job descriptions, little to no interest from students and a lack of compensation for the hours put in by members of ASLMU. On Sunday, January 31st, Kyle and his colleagues passed a bombshell of a proposal that will completely overhaul ASLMU’s, three main branches, the Senate, the Leadership Team and the President's Cabinet. As it stands, the three branches generally work independently to get things done.

Sound familiar? Well, not for long. This new proposal before, primarily by vice-president Elsie Mares calls to consolidate the branches, pay all of its members and make ASLMU, a more collaborative space to affect change on campus among other things. So we get it, changes are being made to ASLMU’s structure, but how does ASMU even work to begin with?

How will it affect us as ASLMU’s constituents? And what do we have to gain from a makeover of our student government? Let's find out.

I'm Raven Yamamoto and I'm Kyle Saavedra. And this is the addendum.


Hi Kyle. Thank you so much for being here. 

Hi, thanks so much for having me. 

What are the different branches of ASLMU? 

The way that ASLMU is currently broken down now is that we have our Senate branch, which serves as the main legislative body. We have our president's cabinet, which are all appointed positions by whichever president and vice president are elected at that time.

And then we also have our leadership team, and this is composed of our CPO, CCO, CFO, Attorney General, the speaker of the Senate, me, sits on that as well. And then our president and vice president too. And our elections chair and our secretary. Cannot forget Nicole, fabulous person. And then we also have our judicial board as well, which handles any sort of internal conflict that goes on with ASLMU, which has our chief justice and then five associate justices.

So that's four branches if I counted correctly. 

Yes. The judicial branch kind of sits separate because that sort of serves as an internal check on conduct that happens with Senate, Cabinet, all that good stuff. 

Has this ever been done before? Has anybody ever tried to change the structure of ASLMU? 

So it actually has happened before the current structure of ASLMU is actually very new to LMU’s campus.

It was introduced a couple of years ago, but the idea of a president's cabinet on our student government is a very new thing. And so because of that, we have kind of seen some of the flaws and inconsistencies in that structure, which has led us to this reorg proposal. 

What are some of those problems? 

So some of the biggest problems that we've found when we were kind of looking at the structure of ASLMU, and I do have to get credit here to our vice president, Elsie Mares, because she is the one who really brought up this idea and was like, there's a lot of problems that are stifling our progress, and we want to do what's best for future administrations.

And so some of the limitations that we kind of notice with the current structure of ASLMU is that there's a lack of interaction between our cabinet and our Senate branches. It's not that they never have the chance to cross paths. It's just that a lot of the time, Senate is focused on passing resolutions and doing their own projects in their own constituencies, and cabinet is focused mostly on doing their own projects in their constituencies. 

So the only times that we really ever overlap is if there's a resolution that is calling upon work that cabinet has done, or senators are jumping onto a committee with cabinet, but we want to make sure that there's a little bit more of access in between those.

We also noticed that the size of ASLMU is so big for our population size. There's just too many cooks in the kitchen and we really need to kind of figure out a way to make it more efficient and keep people engaged throughout the entire administration year. 

So you're talking about the size of ASLMU. How many people are in ASLMU actually, as it stands?

So in total, on our Senate branch, we have 21 senators and this includes the speaker of the Senate. On our cabinet we have, I believe, nine directors. I mean, those were directors for different areas of interest. And then on our leadership team, we have our secretary and our AG. Then we have three chief positions, as well as having the speaker sit on the election's chair.

And then we also have, you know, our advisor, but he doesn’t technically count as a part of ASLMU, but he advises and oversees a lot of students. So not only is that a lot of people to manage for the speaker positions and the president on our advisor position as well. It's a lot of students to kind of rally and give their full support to all at once.

If I did the mental math correctly, that's near 40 people. 

Yeah, that would be correct. 

Then let's talk about the proposal. The big thing I noticed was that the cabinet, there is a big change in terms of how they were appointed, or members of the cabinet are appointed. Instead of it being appointed by President, VP, it's calling for it to be an elected body. I assume that means by the students?

Yes. So the biggest change with this reorg proposal is that we want to move. ASLMU from this cabinet model to more of a commissioner model or vice-president model. 

And so the way that that kind of works is that rather than having nine appointed positions, you would have four elected vice-president positions.

And so each of these four VPs. Would be responsible for different aspects of the student experience. 

So you would have a vice president of academic affairs and below them, they would have reps from each of our colleges on campus. 

You would also have the vice president of cultural affairs injustice with reps underneath them, such as international students, rep immigration justice advocate, and then two cultural justice

staff that are actually hired by that Vice-president. 

You also have two more such as the vice-president of sustainability and operations. They would have three sustainability staff underneath them. And then we also have our vice president of student wellness, which would have a wellness Wednesday manager, which includes our wellness Wednesday market, as well as three other wellness staff.

We condensed a lot of the positions in cabinet into four primary vice-president positions with their own respective staffs. 

Obviously, it's very much downsizing the Senate. So it's going from, from what I believe is 21 senators to nine. Is that correct? 

That is correct. Yeah. 

The reasoning for that is that right now, Senate is a bloated body on ASLMU. 

I can also speak from my own experience being on Senate last year. Yeah, 21 senators is too much. 

And transitioning from being the Senator of CFA from last year to becoming a Senator at large and speaker of the Senate, I can say that managing 20 other senators can also be quite a hassle. 

The reason why we reduce it from 21 to nine also has a lot to do with accountability, but also wanting all these positions to be paid. 

That was the main reason for downsizing Senate, um, was to be able to make it more efficient, get people more motivated to pass more legislation, and also get things done and have to avoid the sort of headaches of last-minute resignations or not being able to fill spots and then spend our first three weeks of the fall semester just going over applications. 

Which I'll be fully honest has happened in the past.

My question though, is that, so it's going from 21 to nine, what positions are being kept? So, what are those nine senator slots, and what's going to happen to the rest of them. 

So, the way that we are thinking we're kind of rethinking ASL on you is that all of the senators will just be general senators at large.

So, no constituency attached to that, but the catch is that all of those constituencies that we have had represented in Senate, are now being moved under the commissioner vice-president model. So everyone will still have representation we're just moving them into the VP’s. So that way they can do a lot more project-based advocacy for their respective constituencies.

The reason for this is that we want Senate to become more of simply a legislative body. So responsible for drafting resolutions, approving our budgets each semester. You know, if there's things that come up serving as an accountability board, if any sort of impeachment were to happen in the future. 

Is everyone going to have to run again for those nine spots if they want to stay on the student government? 

This will be for next year. Everyone is going to finish out their terms, the structure of ASLMU will stay the same under the Palen and Mares administration. So, this proposal, if passed, would then set up elections later. This semester, Bryce Catalano, who is our elections chair, would be going through drafting new roles and responsibilities for positions with the help of everyone. that was a part of the proposal. 

And so moving forward and said that there being 21 positions to run for Senate, it'll just be nine general Senate positions. 

Jack Palen mentioned that he wanted all of student leadership to be paid. So, I know that some positions in student government or ASLMU are paid and some are not. Which ones are in which ones aren't, and why?

Okay. At the moment, the positions that are paid on ASLMU are the leadership team roles. So this includes obviously the president and the vice president, all of those that sit on leadership team, a couple of other positions that are paid are each of the sort of chief positions, such as our CCO, CPO and CFO have their own staff.

Those members are also paid too. That's kind of the thing that we were thinking about going into this proposal is that no cabinet members and no Senate members are paid except for the speaker of the Senate. And so that's kind of where we saw the discrepancy of, “all right, we need to work on how we can get everyone paid because no one's work is more important than someone else's.” 

And also too, most students are working two, three jobs, like I'm working three different jobs and I would love to be involved in student government as much as I can. But if there's no financial compensation, it can really put a strain on how much you can get involved on campus.

Where would the money come from to get people paid? 

The way that the proposal was set up is that we had the allocation of a new budget or how much of a proposed budget in the future would actually go towards salaries. And so we put that in our proposal so that when the next administration is figuring out their budget and they receive the amount from LMU of how much ASLMU is getting that year, they'll already know going in “okay, They wanted people paid. This is a must, first. And then the rest of the budget will go to everything that people know and love about ASLMU.” 

Do you think that this would maybe increase interest in participating in ASLMU? And is that important to you? 

Absolutely. I think that by us being able to compensate most and all, almost all positions on ASLMU, that'll be another incentive for people to want to run and be a part of it because they could look at it as another one of their jobs on campus or even their main job.

So there's a lot of motivation behind that financial compensation, as well as an attached accountability. Now that things are unpaid, people could just be like, “all right, I'm out, this isn’t interesting anymore.” But if you're being paid for the work that you're doing, there's, there's that added layer of reward.

When you feel a little bit more motivated to get initiatives done and kind of do a lot more advocacy-based stuff, which is the main goal. You know, as much as we love all of our programming and traditional ASLMU events, we really want to steer ASMU into being an advocacy-based student organization.

Can you tell me a little bit more about what you mean by advocacy? 

Based I've noticed in this past year is that we have a lot of students come in wanting to do big ambitious projects, which is kind of the purpose, why we run for ASLMU. So, what I mean when I say that advocacy is kind of the big thing that we're turning ASLMU into, is that we want to have students at every table on campus, whether that's faculty meetings, administrative meetings, we want to make sure that student voices are heard across campus.

And we have a say in decisions that are being made for us because we're paying tuition. We are students of this university and we do a lot for this university too. And we want to make sure that LMU understands that. So by turning ASLMU more into an advocacy based thing, we give, um, people that are elected in these positions, more agency to sign up for those meetings and bring their own ideas to the table.

We've had a lot of things on campus we wanted to do such as the menstrual hygiene project. That was actually pushed into under the last administration. We want more of those types of projects on campus. Divest LMU is another example. We want to give students more agency to bring our social justice emphasis that LMU always talks about into action on our own campus.

Why do you think this is so important? I'm wondering what makes you so passionate about this change and why you think it should happen? 

We're all thinking of the future of ASLMU. And we're thinking of the future of LMU, too. What I've noticed in my own experience on ASMU is it's great that we have a lot of people and you know, I love Fallapalooza, love After Sunset, but I don't want the student body to only think of ASLMU as, “Oh, they throw two concerts a year and that's it.”

So by reorganizing the structure of ASLMU, We'll be more efficient at doing a lot more advocacy-based projects. And we'll also be able to have more of a voice on campus than we already do with our Senate branch. You know, we pass resolutions and those are big ways of kind of showing where students stand on issues, both on and off the bluff.

But we want to make sure that our voices are heard every single day that we can. And it is a pressing issue because, you know, In two years, I'm not going to, or even one year I'm not going to be on the bluff anymore. So I want to make sure that incoming students are excited about student government and I want to see change happen across our campus.

So I'm very passionate about that.

Well, thank you so much for being here, Kyle. 

Thank you so much for having me.


Well, there, you have it lions a new year, seemingly promises new changes for our student government. Now that the proposal has officially been passed by the Senate. As of this past Sunday, our ASM viewers are going to have their hands full, making their vision a reality. It sure. To make for an interesting campaign season in the coming months to when a student body decides who will be tasked with managing this new and improved ASL AMU you on Instagram will be reporting on new developments as they come.

And you won't want to miss it. I'm Raven Yamamoto. This has been the Addendum.

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