Photo: Senate Secretary Jalisa Ross reads the resolution of impeachment as Senate President Sarah Cook and Edwards Ayo-Odugbesan, Senate president pro tempore, listen at an April 10 Student Senate meeting in the Great Hall in Tom and Brenda McDaniel Center. (Krista Spears/ The Campus)
By Farris Willingham, Editor-in-Chief
Student senators violated their association’s bylaws in this week’s impeachment of the student body president.
Emma Velez, the incumbent president-elect, was impeached April 10 after senators voted 14-6 to remove her from the office.
Senators closed the chambers to host a private vote on an impeachment resolution, which contradicted Senate’s voting procedure as listed in the association’s bylaws.
Sen. Tyler Johnson (law) moved to close the chambers following the meeting’s discussion and debate, and senators approved the motion 13- 6.
Senate President Sarah Cook told the meeting’s audience to leave the room while senators voted on the resolution.
The decision conflicted with the association’s governing documents and rules of parliamentary procedure.
Senators may move the meeting to an executive session to discuss the resolution in private, according to Robert’s Rules of Order, but they may not overturn their bylaws to vote in private.
All Senate votes shall be publicly cast, reads Section 2 of the association’s bylaws.
Rules contained in an assembly’s bylaws or constitution cannot be suspended—no matter how large the vote received is or how inconvenient the rule may be, reads Robert’s Rules.
Even though senators received a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules, the deferral does not extend to the voting procedure of the bylaws.
Senators approved the motion because some felt intimidated and uncomfortable about casting their vote with the crowd present, Sen. Erica Olavarria (senior-at-large) said.
“There were a lot of onlookers at the case,” she said. “I don’t think the pressure of voting in public would have changed anyone’s votes, but it made some senators feel more comfortable in their decision.”
Velez said Thursday that the vote should have happened in public.
“The students have a right to know,” she said. “If it wasn’t according to the rules, then that’s unfortunate.”