After rumors spread throughout the campus community regarding Student Government Association elections, university president Dr. Frank Pogue e-mailed a letter to students last week. In addition to his correspondence, a meeting was held with Dr. Pogue Monday in T.H Harris auditorium. Tuesday the SGA Senate met.
They voted to strip “any elected candidate(s) that did not meet the necessary qualifications.” of the position immediately.
The Senate meeting was held in room 242 of Favrot Student Union. The document that supported leader removal is called “A Act.”
The act was designed to “overturn the rulings” made by the 2011 Board of Elections based upon (an) investigation of the Board of Elections’ “unethical judgments and inappropriately breaching the Student Government Association Constitution and Election Code.”
Senators said that the position in question was (then) SGA president elect. Channing Gaulden took the Oath of Office Wednesday night as SGA president.
“There is a need for revisions to the Student Government Association’s constitution and Election Codes,” Dr. Pogue said in the letter.
However, the president said that he would not reverse the election’s results.
“. It is not within my authority to overturn the SGA’s Election Commission,” Dr. Pogue wrote.
With regard to elections, former SGA president Lamark Hughes said that the election commissioner Dexter Harris had the final say. Harris declined comment.
The constitution states, “The Board of Elections shall have the power to enforce the Election Code as it deems necessary.”
It also states that the board “shall enforce the Election Code with all necessary rules and bylaws which may not be in conflict with the student body’s Constitution.”
Hughes said Tuesday that he could not answer if SGA was prepared to move SGA vice president Rodrick McGill into the presidential position or reopen elections for the position in light of controversy.
The Constitution states if there is an executive officer vacancy “for any reason,” SGA will be responsible for conducting an application process to fill the position.
It also states that if the student body presents a petition of “more than 50 percent of the enrolled undergraduate students of the university” an executive officer may be removed.
During the meeting, senators continuously referenced an internal audit of the elections and a “confidential” document, involving election results.
Senator Brittany Winn said that the document should be publicized to ensure that students knew what was happening.
Hughes said, “Any SGA document should be made available to all students.”
“I take full blame for the document being confidential during the meeting,” SGA vice president William Burge said.
Burge continued, “The conflict that we face is (an) SGA internal
conflict that the Senate wanted to solve on their own, without the help of our superiors .
“When it comes to the Constitution or the election code, we can only advise incoming representatives of what needs to be added, taken out, and/or revised. It should be left up to the SGA to handle the revisions,” Burge said.
In Tuesday’s meeting non-senators were dismissed briefly from the meeting under the guises of senators being briefed.
“What I did not like was how both senators and audience of the meeting failed to read the act that was given,” Burge said.
After the meeting restarted, senators assured each other and the audience that SGA must rely on documents, rather than hearsay.
Kia Shelley, a psychology junior from Fresno, Calif., said that because of the vagueness of the Constitution and election code, students were forced to rely on what was in black and white, and “gray” areas, where protocol was interpreted for students.
Shelley said that the documents do not cover every possible situation.
“This is going to hold us back,” she said.
In the act, vice president of Student Affairs, Dr. Stacey Duhon is accused of “unethically” appointing herself to the board’s administrative position.
Dr. Duhon did not comment during the meeting. Although the act passed, Hughes said that it is under review.
As the meeting concluded, a student leader expressed dissatisfaction with it and the state of university affairs.
“We are doing our students a disservice,” said former sophomore class president Jonathan Allen before adding that student leaders acted “a donkey” and needed to re-evaluate their selves.
Senators and spectators applauded Allen’s statements.
“The Senate meeting was what we need at every senate meeting.
Great questions came from the floor,” Burge said.
“I encourage students that see problems to voice them or join SGA to help solve them.”
Hughes said that official notification will be provided to students after a decision is made regarding the act.
Of the evolving SGA, Burge said, “The goal was to use the transition period to share ideas and conflicts that our administration ran into with new administration.