April 6, 2023 – Santa Fe College’s Model U.S. Senate team continued its tradition of excellence at the 51st Annual Model U.S. Senate hosted by Stetson University, March 23-25, once again winning an outsized share of the awards despite being the only two-year college competing with four-year colleges and universities that include upper-level students on their teams.
The Model Senate is a three-day event simulating as accurately as possible in the space of three days what goes on in the real U.S. Senate. Each student senator is assigned to portray an actual current U.S. Senator. Student senators get to introduce legislation, to participate in committee meetings and committee hearings, to attend party caucus meetings, to do real wheeling and dealing and compromising, and to speak on the Senate floor. While some of our students certainly treasure competing for and winning awards for their effectiveness, professionalism, and accuracy in portraying their assigned senators; it is more importantly a wonderful hands-on learning opportunity for all and a lot of fun.
Amy Trask was the star of the entire Model Senate, winning the Floyd M. Riddick Award as Outstanding Senator. This was only the second year that a singular award was given to one top senator, and both times the award has been won by a Santa Fe Student! Amy was tremendously active, articulate, passionate and knowledgeable and proved to be an extremely effective negotiator.
Johnny Conti won the award for Best Committee Chair, the next most prestigious award at the event. As Chair of the Committee on the Environment and Public Works, he displayed strong command of parliamentary procedure, maintained order, fostered meaningful discussion, and led his committee in combining the priorities of several members into a sweeping piece of legislation.
William Robertson won one of four Best Senator awards. As ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, he took charge of his party, and he was an active and articulate speaker on the Senate floor.
In addition to the individual awards, the Best Committee award went, by no coincidence, to the committee that had the most Santa Fe students, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Bianca Tabaku did an excellent job as the committee’s ranking member and Jace Digby and Kevin Savoi were major contributors to the committee’s success.
In addition, Brianna Facey, Davis Mclaughlin, Stephen Taussig, and Mary Herrera did superb jobs, and they all expect to return with the experience to make the team even stronger next year.
Political Science Professor Alan Beck, the group’s faculty advisor, brought Santa Fe’s first group to the Model Senate around 2009 (he’s lost count) and has brought students every year since. Professor David Price served as co-advisor and leant lots of expertise and logistical help on the trip. Professor Dustin Fridkin also assisted before the trip with his annual seminar on the history and role of the Senate.
The group owes special thanks to Santa Fe alumnus and parliamentary procedure expert Alex Hamilton, who once again selflessly returned to lead two mock committee meetings that were instrumental to giving our students the confidence and preparation they needed for success.
Best Committee Chair Johnny Conti, Outstanding Senator Amy Trask, Best Senator William Robertson
(left to right): William Robertson, Davis McLaughlin, Brianna Facey, Stephen Taussig, Amy Trask, Jace Digby, Kevin Savoi, Bianca Tabaku, Johnny Conti