By Nick Smith
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Student officials are taking on extra duties this week to deal with the absence of President Cade Bernsen, sources said.
Bernsen, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, said he expects to be absent for at least a week so he can assess damages to his family's home in Beaumont, Texas, as a result of Hurricane Rita.
The presidential duties fell onto the shoulders of Erin Hertzog, ASUA executive vice president. Hertzog is taking Bernsen's place at cabinet meetings, speeches and Thursday's Arizona Board of Regents meeting.
While Bernsen is away, the work on two of his key projects, solar energy and child care, are still continuing, said Hertzog, a journalism junior.
The solar energy project is currently in the fundraising phase.
The child care project is in the exploratory phase, which will be conducted by distributing surveys to determine how many students with children are on campus, said Bernsen's chief of staff, Tyler Carrell.
The only thing put on hold was the hiring of an assistant spirit director, which has been postponed until the president returns for interviewing, Carrell said.
While the president is gone, ASUA cabinet members have reorganized to get tasks done.
"We've tried to set up the cabinet as a unit," Carrell said.
Contingency plans for a presidential absence were made at the beginning of the school year. A similar reorganization would've taken place if Bernsen were out sick, Carrell said. ASUA is expected to operate normally but awaits Bernsen's return, he said.
"When it comes to true decision making, he makes the call," Carrell said.
Bernsen has been keeping in contact with ASUA through his chief of staff.
"He called me this morning and asked about (Arizona Daily Wildcat) articles," Carrell said.
Only a small amount of damage was done to Bernsen's house and he will be inspecting his family's farm and beach house this week, Carrell said. Although his presence may be elsewhere, Carrell said, Bernsen is still concerned with what is going on at ASUA.
"You can tell he's preoccupied with things, but his heart is here," Carrell said.
Bernsen's temporary absence has not caused much change in the ASUA Senate.
"Things seem to be functioning the same from the senate point of view," said Sen. Matt Boepple.
The increased administrative duties keep the communication lines from being as open as they usually are.
"The only thing that causes a delay is the level of responsibility of the vice president," said Sen. Ryan Montana Erickson. "At this point (the delay) is not very significant."