In the structure of ASUI, the senate parliamentarian is unequivocally the lowest rung on the ladder, University of Idaho senior Max Cowan said.
The job description includes printing the senate agenda, hole punching it, distributing it to the senators before their weekly meeting, recording the minutes, dotting i’s and crossing t’s. The job is essentially the secretary of the senate.
While a more anonymous role in the senate than what he may be used to, it’s far from a fall from grace for the former ASUI president. Cowan, who was president for the 2013-14 school year, said almost a year ago exactly that he would not seek reelection, would not return to ASUI and his talents would be better utilized elsewhere.
“To be frank, the job is difficult,” Cowan said. “It’s not a fun job. It’s incredibly rewarding, it’s very exciting, but it can be tiring. I decided not to rerun, but now, after spending that year and gaining perspective, I recognize that there’s more that needs to be accomplished and that I want to share the message that ASUI can be there for students. We can actually be addressing things that matter.”
It’s easy for ASUI to become focused on itself, Cowan said, which was part of the reason he left. Taking a year to focus on his studies has reconnected him with the passionate people who live and work at UI, and has reminded him what it means to be a Vandal.
“It’s not about any one particular thing,” Cowan said. “It’s not about wearing gold. It’s about valuing each other and valuing the experience we have here, and I’ve really gained that over the past year.”
Returning to the senate as parlimentarian has only given him more insight, Cowan said.
“I think that perspective is important to understand that every person plays a role in making ASUI successful,” Cowan said. “I think I really value the work that gets done by every member of ASUI, and I think it’s really made me recognize what students are talking about.”
Cowan said he and his running mate, ASUI Senator Stetson Holman, constructed their platform based on overarching initiatives with supporting policy points for each. Cowan said through the campaigning process, he thinks voters have been especially receptive and he has high hopes voter turnout will reflect this.
“I think it’s an incredibly hard conversation to have when we as students talk one-on-one about what is troubling us at the university and what we think could be done better,” Cowan said. “I think we talk about what’s happening in our classes, what’s going on on campus, and our platform is that simple. I felt I should re-run because this time, the campaign isn’t about myself.”
Hannah Shirley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org