Student Publications reviewed proper procedure last week to determine student senators violated their bylaws during an impeachment trial against Emma Velez, former Student Government Association president.
A senator moved to close the chambers so Senate could vote on an impeachment resolution in private—a motion not permitted by the association’s governing documents.
Visit more information about the violation here.
The only method of secret voting outlined in the association’s governing documents is a secret ballot, which was prohibited in the trial by the impeachment section of the constitution—senators were required to host a two-thirds, roll call vote.
The next mention of voting in the hierarchy of the association’s documents is in the bylaws, which reads “all votes shall be publicly cast.”
As a rule of precedence, Senate is obligated to vote in an open session.
Even though the constitution allows senators to close meetings, the provision only extends to discussion.
Since there isn’t a section in the association’s constitution justifying Senate’s casting a private vote, the senators violated the public voting procedure listed in their bylaws.
Sen. Tyler Johnson (law) defended the decision in a Facebook comment on Student Publications‘ Facebook page, saying senators feared “physical, violent reprisal for their vote.”
The audience at the meeting offered no reason to warrant this, considering its civility during the trial.
False notions of discomfort are not a legitimate backing for disbanding constitutional orders.
Senators maintain their positions in service to the student body and are responsible for upholding the requirements of their posts.
They can’t choose which rules apply to their meetings when it’s convenient for them.
They have to be accountable to the documents they claim to uphold, especially in a trial wherein they held the student body president accountable for her actions.
Violations aside, it appears that Student Senate wielded an unprecedented amount of power in the case.
No party may appeal the results of an impeachment trial to the Student Court, reads the association’s constitution.
Even though there was uncertainty during the trial regarding the validity of charges against Velez, her removal is absolute.
One charge against Velez was her alleged misuse of executive discretionary funds to apportion money to a campuswide event.
Senators claimed she circumvented Senate’s appropriation process.
While this is true, the constitution did not prohibit Velez from utilizing discretionary funds, which simply means she can give money at her discretion.
Impeachment may be an option of the constitution, but that doesn’t make it a necessity.
Senate should have explored other options, instead of solidifying division within student government and the student body.