Multiple members of Student Government predict time-efficiency for Town Hall.
BY ERICA MUNISAR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Ahead of a Student Town Hall hosted by University Life Wednesday at 1 p.m., questions regarding the efficiency of the Town Hall were raised in the Student Senate on Feb. 1. This included comments from multiple members of Mason Student Government that President Gregory Washington may speak for too long during the Town Hall which is set to last for one hour.
The main conversation of last Thursday’s session was followed by two email chains between former Secretary of Administrative and Financial Affairs Gabriel Curtis and Vice President Rose Pascarell.
Discussion of the Town Hall began during the debate of R. #41 A Resolution to Promote the Town Hall, sponsored by Senator Caden Garafalo.
In one email chain on Jan. 31, which was publicly broadcasted on the boards during the discussion, Curtis requested increased time-efficiency for the one-hour Town Hall, proposing four measures: Arranging a follow-up Town Hall if Dr. Washington is more than 10 minutes late, having Washington send his opening address via email beforehand and limiting the president’s introduction to five minutes, allowing direct public questions to Dr. Washington and limiting his responses to three minutes with the help of a Mason Student Government moderator.
Curtis shared to Fourth Estate that he had sent the email after members discussed Town Hall concerns in a previous Administrative and Financial Affairs Committee meeting, in which he believed the best course of action was to make Rose Pascarell aware of the concerns.
Rose Pascarell responded directly to the email two hours later saying “I find the tone of this message disrespectful as it relates to President Washington.”
“When I asked if student government wanted to host this when I came to speak to student senate last semester, the answer I received in writing was ‘no.’ I still worked with the former speaker to find a time and location that made sense, but this event, at student government’s own choosing, is not run or organized by student government.” Pascarell said.
Later during the session, Student Body President Paul Wyche explained the claim from Pascarell, saying that Mason Student Government declined to specifically host a Town Hall as an organization in the past. “On the ‘no’ in writing remark, I believe that at the Student Senate meeting that Rose Pascarell was at, there was a stark statement made that SG did not want to host a town hall. They want University Life to host it. I personally thought that it would have been fine for SG to host the town hall.” Wyche said.
President Wyche shared a further address to the chamber regarding the email from Curtis. “Do I believe that the email was entirely disrespectful as implied in the response? Not necessarily. Would I have sent the email that Secretary Curtis sent? Probably not. I like to say things a little nicer than [they should be].” Wyche said.
At the end of announcements, Curtis revealed that he was given handwritten sanctions by President Wyche following the email. One demand was for Curtis to apologize to Pascarell for the email. Curtis was additionally told not to speak on behalf of Mason Student Government, and that all emails to administrators must be sent during regular business hours and approved by the President, Vice President or Chief of Staff.
Curtis responded to the sanctions by promptly resigning from his position during the announcements portion of Student Senate. At the end of his announcement, a standing ovation was given by the chamber for the duration of 20 seconds.
Other members of the chamber questioned the necessity of the Town Hall requiring a Mason360 sign up. “I have no idea if they will stop you at the door for not signing up on Mason360. The worst thing is I have way too many concerns about this town hall.” Senator Garafalo said in his author statement. “Gregory Washington tends to go on tangents and give a prolonged introduction. We want to limit the time of his responses.”
Apart from controversy surrounding the upcoming Town Hall, a series of resolutions and appointments were made.
Senior Maaz Abbasi, Freshman Grace Martinez-Cora and Freshman Lee Turner were appointed as Student Senators, each approved with 20 votes in affirmation and one abstention.
Sophomore Simeon Omorodion was appointed as Undersecretary of Public Relations for Website Management with 21 votes in affirmation and one abstention.
R. #40 A Resolution to Support the Mental Health Language Playbook, authored by Senator Zara Saemi, was passed with 22 votes in the affirmation and one abstention. “This resource defines the do’s and don’ts for mental health. It helps people navigate struggles and use effective language for well-being and mental health.” Senator Saemi said in her author statement.
Following long debate and amendments, R. #41 A resolution to Promote the Town Hall was passed with 20 votes in the affirmation and one abstention.