When the newly elected IUSG Congress met virtually for the first time in the 2020-21 school year, the first item of note on the agenda was electing a new speaker. IUSG’s legislative body, to which 57 members were elected earlier this year, selected sophomore Garrett Wright for the new speaker role.
Wright, a law and public policy major, was endorsed by ReviveIU, the largest coalition in the body.
“I think anybody who was at that meeting knows that I was endorsed by Revive in that election,” he said. “I’m not really embarrassed to say that.”
Despite the fact he was endorsed by ReviveIU, he said he doesn’t want that to influence how he operates as speaker.
“I’m trying to spread the wealth and the power to make sure that everybody’s opinion is being heard,” Wright said. “Open communication is really the only way for Congress to work.”
The congressional election season was hotly contested, with hundreds of applicants vying for the positions within the body. ReviveIU and ReImagineIU, the two largest coalitions, endorsed dozens of candidates. In the weeks leading up to the congressional election, each coalition submitted election complaints against their rival groups, including one election complaint that aimed to disqualify an entire slate of candidates.
Wright said election season is over and that it’s time for the two coalitions to depolarize.
“During that election, there were two endorsement parties, and it started straying away from our responsibility to represent students,” Wright said. “One of my personal goals as speaker is to come in and depolarize a little bit. I want to prevent us from making the same mistakes that the federal government has made, where even where they agree, they disagree.”
The political role of the speaker is left undefined in many respects, allowing Wright to choose how involved he wants to be in political fights. He said he doesn’t want to get involved in political fighting.
“One of the things I’m really trying to emphasize is that my personal goal is to run it in sort of a passive way,” Wright said. “I look at my role more of a facilitation and a mediation rather than using my own opinions.”
In recent weeks, IUSG’s budget has become a source of controversy, with some groups expressing concern over specific budget appropriations.
“Whether I agree or disagree with them isn’t important to me,” Wright said. “What is important is that public discourse is had so that people can make informed decisions. Regarding the budget specifically, I definitely think that’s something we should look at if people are discerned or feel uncomfortable with it.”
Wright said this year’s Congress will look different, since they will be meeting over Zoom. IUSG Congress hosts their next meeting Oct. 19.
“As students, we are all faced with this unprecedented challenge with COVID," Wright said. "But it’s also incredible we also have unprecedented opportunity to really make an impact on students’ lives.”