Two constitution-altering Student Government Association bills were passed after a campus-wide vote, according to an email sent on behalf of Danny Kelly, the MTSU SGA faculty adviser.
The email, sent out on Thursday, explains that whenever changes are proposed to the SGA constitution, SGA is required to notify the entire student body and allow them to vote on the changes in the form of a student referendum. An email was sent out by SGA 10 days ago, explaining that the voting would begin on Tuesday, Feb. 20 and that the last day to vote in the student referendum would be Friday, Feb. 23.
The most recent email states that both bills passed after the voting concluded. The first bill, “SGA Bill 1-17-F,” which was sponsored by SGA Sen. Nathan Watkins, allows SGA executive board members to be impeached. The fact that the constitution previously did not include the provision of an impeachment process became the focus of a controversy last year. SGA President Courtney Brandon and Vice President of Campus Relations Timothy Bassett were accused of violating campaign rules. The SGA Internal Affairs Committee voted to impeach Brandon and Bassett, but the impeachment charges were later dropped due to a gray area in the SGA constitution. After the incident, SGA members felt compelled to introduce the new bill.
In the constitution, before the new amendments, there was no clear language that indicated whether an executive board member could be impeached. After the new bill, the constitution was amended to clearly read that “any executive board member may be removed from office by means of impeachment by the SGA Senate.” Any SGA senator now has the power to create articles of impeachment. However, the articles must be presented to a member of the SGA Internal Affairs Committee for a review and vote.
Impeachment proceedings of an executive board member will begin with a member of the Internal Affairs Committee submitting articles of impeachment in the form of a bill to their committee. A formal complaint will then be filed with the SGA attorney general, and the general will submit a letter to the SGA adviser, asking permission to investigate the board members. If approved, the attorney general will investigate and have access to SGA and MTSU documents relevant to the board member. When the investigation is completed, all evidence will be turned over to the Internal Affairs Committee, and the committee will conduct a meeting to determine if the offense is worthy of impeachment. The committee will then vote on the articles of impeachment. If the vote is to pass, the articles of impeachment will be brought before the full SGA Senate for a hearing. The attorney general will present their case during the hearing, and the accused board member will have the same opportunity. The Senate will then vote, and, should the vote reach 2/3 majority in favor of impeachment, the board member will be removed from office. Of the students who voted in the referendum, 85.18 percent voted in favor of the bill and 14.81 percent voted against.
The second bill, “SGA Bill 2-17-F,” that was passed after the referendum will expand the duties of the SGA attorney general. Before the bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Dalton Slatton, the attorney general, Hannah Leyhew, only had the power to work on student parking cases. With the new bill in place, however, Leyhew will serve as an “adviser to the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch of the Student Government Association on the SGA Constitution and Laws,” according to the email. The email also states that the attorney general will now be able to investigate any alleged violations of the SGA constitution and laws by any SGA member.
However, in order to investigate a member, the attorney general must have “probable cause” that the member is violating the constitution, or a complaint must have been filed about that member to the attorney general. The attorney general must then submit a letter, requesting to investigate the member, and the SGA adviser must sign the letter. During the investigation, the attorney general will have access to MTSU or SGA materials involving the individual, including documents, testimony and other relevant forms of evidence. When the investigation is completed, the attorney general will turn over all evidence to the Senate Internal Affairs Committee with recommendation of whether disciplinary action should take place. Of the students who voted in the referendum, 55.55 percent voted for the bill and 44.44 percent voted against.
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