Letter to the editor: An update on SGA from Senator Shane Warren

Letter to the editor: An update on SGA from Senator Shane Warren

Letter to the editor: An update on SGA from Senator Shane Warren
April 25
14:07 2019

By Shane Warren | SGA Senator 

To the Student Body of UNT:

The Senate, according to Article VI, Section 6 of the Student Constitution, has the power to establish all powers of the Supreme Court.

Knowing this, we declared a mistrial over the Supreme Court decision that presidents and vice presidents can’t ever be out of office hours at the same time during the summer, when student activity is dead enough that only 10 senators have two meetings during a three-month period.

We did this because we believe the decision violated the Senate’s established procedures for Supreme Court (Bylaws, Article IV) by refusing to hold a hearing or allowing a potential President to defend her term in court. The incumbent president decided to veto the mistrial because he believed the decision wasn’t a hearing and therefore didn’t have to guarantee the elected representatives their rights in court as established by our bylaws (Article IV). He also thought that the mistrial invalidated the Supreme Court’s power. This was untrue, which is why a separate bill addressed the Supreme Court’s power grab. I believe that this veto allowed the Supreme Court to blatantly ignore the protections the Student Senate enumerated for people affected by their rulings and invalidate an elected president in the process. That’s why I moved to override. The result? The Senate didn’t vote to override the veto. It also didn’t vote against overriding the veto. How is this possible? When I tried to put the override on the agenda, the speaker decided to allow senators to vote on whether to consider it or not. A little over one-third voted against deliberating, so no vote took place. The speaker, who is also the incumbent vice president, has the unilateral ability to change the agenda of a senate meeting at will. She has done it before and chose not to this time. This silenced any transparent discussion about the decision to override a veto which allowed the Supreme Court to invalidate an elected president’s term because her and her vice president have overlapping internships for a few summer weeks.

After that debacle, I read a bill which condemned the Supreme Court’s decision to impose new duties on the president not outlined in the Constitution. I did so for three reasons: one, the Constitution (Article V, Sections 6 and 7) lays out the duties of our president and vice president and neither of them include office hours.

Two, the Constitution (Article V, Section 6, Subsection K) clearly states that elected senators are the people who assign additional duties to the president and states that the president assigns additional duties to the vice president (Article V, Section 7, Section A).

Three, any Supreme Court effort to impose additional presidential duties without consulting the senate or referencing the presidential duties section of the constitution is a power grab and must be opposed.

Over half of the student senate voted against this principle. Some of the opposing senators had honest points; one mentioned that the Constitution is self-evident and shouldn’t need reaffirming, while others pointed out that resolutions aren’t meant for internal SGA conflict and/or that we approved the Supreme Court’s appointment. However, a group that had a heavy overlap with senators who didn’t want to defend their decision to uphold the incumbent president’s veto decided to accuse me of personal bias, laugh every time I spoke, rolled their eyes and openly berate me to their colleagues. Let me be clear: Refusing to allow deliberation over your own choices while attacking a colleague and mocking them for their own is an embarrassment for SGA and validates pretty much every stereotype students have about it.

To be fair, an overwhelming majority of senators approved helpful legislation like endorsing a harm-reduction approach for student substance use issues, asking for a long-term therapists for students and asking UNT to try and make our faculty as racially diverse as the student body. At the same time, approximately one-third thought affirming our power to seriously represent students and check a president ourselves was worth mocking and attacking me over. What this means for the quality of the overall SGA institution and/or its feelings toward our president and vice president-elects, I’ll leave for my fellow students decide.

Shane Warren

C.L.A.S.S. SGA Senator

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Rebecca Najera

Rebecca Najera

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