Mike Mavredakis: How does it feel to win this type of office at UConn?
Luis Toscano: I’d say that it’s thrilling. It’s an experience that I’ve been looking forward to for a little while. It’s something that I really…I appreciate the trust that the senate’s put in me to lead them in order to kind of forge a new way through this very uncertain time.
MM: Why did you decide to run for speaker?
LT: I decided to run because USG’s had a very turbulent summer. I looked at the senate and I said we have so many wonderful senators, but we don’t have as many senators who know the organization as well as I do. So, I thought that my knowledge surrounding the organization would be a nice stabilizing hand in these times where we have an entirely new president. This is the first time in five years that the president hasn’t been senator before being the president. We have a whole new office that we created, and we have things that have to get done. So, I really ran because I wanted to bring my experience in the organization to the leadership.
MM: For regular students who aren’t necessarily the most knowledgeable about USG, what exactly is the speaker of the senate’s role? What do they do?
LT: So, the speaker of the senate is the leader of the senate, essentially, so they are elected by the senate. I’m a senator myself. I represent the School of Business. And I am elected to moderate the meetings, so I’m what you would call the chair of the body. And I tell people when they can speak, I say what’s on the agenda and I go to the governing board meetings, which is the USG leadership, and I represent the interests of the legislative branch of USG.
MM: Obviously, you were just elected, but how is it been? How are you going to adjust to the new like legislative rules? The Damani [Douglas’] rules of procedure, I think they’re called.
LT: Yeah, the Douglas Rules of procedure make the meeting much easier to moderate in a virtual environment. They also make it much more accessible to someone who’s never used Robert’s rules of order before, which is what we moved away from. I think that they were necessary changes given the environment that we’re in, and I think overall we can have a much more productive senate with the changes that have been made.
MM: So now that you have this office? What are your goals? What would you like to accomplish this semester, this year?
LT: So, my first goal, first and foremost, is to elevate senators’ voices – to make sure that people who are advocating hear what we have to say. Because at the end of the day, a lot of the great ideas that USG pushes originate in the senate from a senator or from a committee. And I just want to be sure to continue to elevate those voices. That’s my first goal. I also want to rework some of the responsibilities that senators have. I want to get them access to the community listserv so that they can directly contact their constituencies. And I think that’s something that we have office hours, but I think that we could improve that by also having outreach to communities directly, so that we actually represent the interests of students.
MM: Alright, so are there any specific legislative goals that you have? Are there any sort of specific initiatives that you want to focus on?
LT: I have no specific like in terms of advocacy initiatives that I want to push. I want to make sure that all of the four standing committees that we have pushed through their ideas. I want any senator or any person who has an idea, I want to make it so that they can come to me or the student government and make it happen. If someone is upset about the way pass/fail is happening? I want to be a resource to them so that they can express that to administrators for example. I want to make it so we have a food pantry, if we didn’t I would want to help people start a food pantry. Stuff like that.