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Freddy Cavallaro calls for Student Association reform in presidential campaign

Christina Tan/Thresher

By Amy Qin and Rishab Ramapriyan     2/20/19 12:44am

Freddy Cavallaro’s #DismantleTheSA campaign for president is focused on significant bylaw and constitutional reform for the Student Association, with the goal of making the SA Senate more representative of the student body rather than actually dismantling it. According to Cavallaro, he would resign from the SA president role once his reforms have been implemented, if he were to be elected.

“The largest problem with the SA [Senate is that] I don’t think it’s representative of the student body,” Cavallaro, a Will Rice College junior, said in an interview with the Rice Thresher. 

Cavallaro’s platform consists of five components: decentralize power from the SA Senate, hold the SA Senate accountable, promote continuity between years, promote transparency and increase diversity of thought. 

“The constitution and [its] bylaws give the [SA] Senate unreasonable amounts of control about what can be done, and who has the right to do it,” Cavallaro said. “I aim to divert as much power as possible from the [SA] Senate and give it back to the people.”

Some of Cavallaro’s proposed changes include amending the constitution such that it would no longer be necessary for all legislation to be sponsored by a voting member of the SA Senate. Cavallaro said he would also change the voting system to follow a ballot system rather than roll call voting in addition to changing the bylaws such that a two-thirds majority would be required on all votes other than appointment confirmations.

“If you are last in the line to vote, and the majority has already been established, you may feel like your vote doesn’t matter and not care to dissent, even if you had planned on it,” Cavallaro said.

Cavallaro has said he would try to implement his reforms quickly so he could resign as soon as possible, ideally by the end of the year.

According to the SA Constitution, the order of succession in the case of a presidential resignation is the internal vice president, followed by the external vice president. If neither is willing or able to serve as president, a special election will be held to fill the position.

Simi Rahman, who is currently uncontested for the IVP position, told the Thresher that she has no interest in the role of SA president. Will Mundy, the uncontested candidate for the EVP position, told the Thresher he is “not committing to the role of SA president at this time.” 

Cavallaro said he was running for SA president for altruistic reasons.

“I don’t want to become the enemy,” Cavallaro said. “I’m basically saying, look at all these career politicians [and] resume builders, but I’ve had someone ask me the other day, if you were elected SA president, would you add it to your resume? That’s a tricky question. I would be leaning towards no, because I don’t really think it’s super relevant. I want to be doing this as a sacrificial, ‘I want the university to be better’ type of thing, rather than trying to get as much clout as possible.”

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