Student Government (AAS)


Dear JC Chair Tomi Williams,

 
I am writing today to file a complaint.  Pursuant to Article 2, Section 1 of the AAS constitution, "Any Senator or member of the Executive Branch who fails to attend three (3) meetings per semester shall forfeit his or her seat on the Executive Branch or the Senate and its associated committees."
 
According to my records, Senator Phillip Qu (Class of 2016) has missed at least 4 senate meetings this semester.  I presently request that the JC Chair gather data on Senator Qu's attendance from the Secretary, who keeps attendance (as this job is normally the duty of the Vice President, but has been outsourced to the secretary for as far as I can remember).
 
If Senator Qu has indeed missed three or more meetings, I ask his seat on Senate be forfeited.  
 
Best,
 
Christopher Friend

 

 

The Decision

 

I regret to inform you that at approximately 12:30 PM today, the Judiciary Council found that a Sophomore Senator had not complied with Article 2, Section 1 of the AAS constitution:

 

"Any Senator or member of the Executive Branch unable to attend a Senate meeting should inform the Vice-President of the reason for the absence. Any Senator or member of the Executive Branch who fails to attend three (3) meetings per semester shall forfeit his or her seat on the Executive Branch or the Senate and its associated committees.

 

The Senator must forfeit his seat for the remainder of this Senate cycle which ends Tuesday April 22nd. The Judiciary Council voted 4-0 with all voting council members–Zack Gerdes ‘14, Marie Lambert ‘15, Servet Bayimli ‘16, Johnathan Appel ‘16–agreeing that the Senator had acted in violation of the Constitution.

 

Process

 

The complaint was filed on April 17th and the Judiciary Council assembled that afternoon to discuss it’s validity. Birk Mitau ’16 immediately recused himself due to personal partiality. A Judiciary Council consisting of myself, Zack Gerdes ‘14, Marie Lambert ‘15, Servet Bayimli ’16, Johnathan Appel ’16 voted to consider the complaint valid.

 

The Judiciary Council subsequently held an open hearing at noon on Saturday, April 19th. Testimony was given by the aforementioned Senator, his athletic coach, and Blaine Werner ’15–a fellow AAS Senator. The Senator acknowledged that he had four unexcused absences but offered that two of his absences were due to rescheduled athletic practices for which he is typically granted excusal and the other for a family emergency which certainly would have been excused. 

 

The matter at hand was not the reasoning for the Senators unexcused absences but rather his failure to communicate either with the Vice President or, his attendance proxy, the Secretary. The Vice President and Secretary were questioned at 11:00 am on Sunday, April 20th. They agreed that they normally accepted evening athletic practices as excused absences but did so on the condition that the Senator would inform the Secretary of his absence in advance. 

 

The Judiciary Council voted unanimously (4-0) that the Senator’s behavior was in violation of the AAS Constitution. Furthermore, the Judiciary Council voted unanimously (4-0) that the Senator should forfeit his seat for the remainder of the Senate cycle as outlined in the constitution.

 

 

Questions

 

There are three major questions that may arise from this ruling:

 

Can Athletes miss Senate meetings for practice?

 

The Judiciary Council cannot determine the legitimacy of reasons behind Senators’ absences; this is the duty of the Vice President. This ruling is not a rejection of athletic practice as the reason for an excused absence but rather a mandate that Senators communicate effectively with the Vice President if they cannot attend a Senate meeting.

 

Can Senators miss as many meetings as they please as long as they inform the Vice President?

 

The Vice President has full discretion to excuse absences based on individual circumstances. This being said, there should be consistency in the Vice President’s excusal habits from Senator to Senator. Merely informing the Vice President of one’s absence does not necessarily translate to an excused absence. After the Senator alerts the Vice President of the absence, it is up to the Vice President to determine whether the reason will distinguish the absence as excused. 

 

Does Class of 2016 have one less Senator?

 

Elections for the next cycle are this Tuesday, April 22nd 2014. All seats, including the currently vacated seat, will be up for election and filled. 

 

This is the majority decision of the Judiciary Council.

 

Judiciary Council Chair: Tomi Williams '16

 

Voting Judiciary Council Members: Zack Gerdes '14, Marie Lambert '15, Johnathan Appel '16, Servet Bayimli '16