On Wednesday, May 13, Orlando Cabalo, a newly elected CHASS senator and a first-year history major, was officially voted into office as the incoming 2020-2021 president pro tempore (PPT) during a special election hosted by ASUCR.

With his experience as a senate intern the past year, Cabalo stated that he has “great hope” in the abilities and convictions of elected and nonelected members to serve students’ basic needs. However, he also stated that ASUCR is in need of reformation in order to build a stronger, more responsive student government.

As PPT, there are many duties to uphold, but according to Cabalo, the primary responsibility hinges on legislation. He stated, “Their (PPT) biggest role is heading the Legislative Review Committee (LRC) and also choosing the six other senators that sit on it.” The LRC manages the vetting of all legislation within ASUCR, choosing whether or not to pass legislation before it reaches the senate. In addition, the PPT is expected to participate in the general duties of a senator, and perform as an ex-officio member during the Executive Branch and the Student Voice Committee meetings.

During his time in office, Cabalo plans to continue the work of his predecessors by securing basic student needs, such as food, housing and school supplies. “I think the greatest thing I can do is to help ensure that students don’t struggle to get food on the table and textbooks in their hands, especially in these confusing times,” stated Cabalo. Cabalo claims that he has many ideas to reach his goals, such as personally continuing to hold meetings with basic needs groups, labor unions and different clubs in order to create better methods in which such necessities can be provided. He also discussed creating new committees and institutions within ASUCR that have a sole focus on this purpose; through these groups, he hopes to improve communication between ASUCR and larger basic needs organizations such as The Well and the R’Garden. 

Another issue Cabalo hopes to tackle during his time as PPT is the overall culture of ASUCR, putting an emphasis on government accountability and transparency. He stated, “Unfortunately in the past, like all governments, self-service can fester in even the most noble of institutions.” In order to remedy this problem, he desires to ban secret ballot votes in ASUCR and ensure that students have a voice in regards to proposed stipend increases of elected positions. He added, “I hope that through these duties, we can firmly reform ASUCR while strengthening government accountability for students.”