The breaking point between the SGA’s embattled executive and legislative branches was reached Monday when Student Body President Larry O. Rivers was impeached at the fifth session of the 33rd Student Senate.
The motion to impeach was made, and later passed by a 14 to 1 vote, after a heated exchange between the president and members of the senate. The senate disagreed with Rivers’ appointment of Kristen Jackson as an associate justice to the Student Supreme Court.
Rivers told the Senate when Jackson submitted her application to him during the spring semester, her GPA was above the 2.5 minimum requirement needed to serve as a justice. And despite the fact that her GPA fell below the requirements after the spring and summer grades were posted, she could still be allowed to assume the vacant associate justice position because Jackson was waiting for grade changes that would bring her average up to requirements.
“Its not her fault that her grade changes have not been processed yet,” Rivers said in a press release Tuesday.
“I don’t see why she should be penalized for something that is beyond her control. Her grade changes will be done soon so this will all be a moot issue.”
Concerned with they considered lack of progress in the appointment process, Senate President Michael Morton said he approached Rivers about speaking to the Senate.
“I, on behalf of the Senate, asked [Rivers] to come before the Student Senate to address the issues of vacancies on the student judicial branch,” Morton said. There are three vacant positions in the seven-member Student Supreme Court.
Calling Rivers’ conduct “malfeasance”, Senator Brittani King made a motion to impeach Rivers. King stated her reasoning under Article IV, Section 5 of the Student Body Constitution. The article states that the executive branch shall appoint qualified students to vacant SGA offices, except those of the Student Senate, with two-thirds vote of the Student Senate.
Even after the impeachment had been passed, members of the Senate continued their battle in what many Senators called their semester-long “struggle for power” during two-minute speeches at the end of the meeting.
“I am disgusted,” said Senior Senator Robert Clemmon, who was not in chamber for the vote. Clement was against the impeachment and attacked the reasoning of the senators who had voted in favor of it.
Another senator responded back.
“For those of you who were disgusted. Where were you when the vote was counted?” asked Senator Jov’ian Greer during his two-minute speech.
Other senators were visibly happy about what they viewed as the Senate standing up to a president that they viewed as trying to undermine them.
“We’re standing our ground,” said Senator Ranaldo Allen. “We’re not going to let one person run all over us and ignore the students concerns.”
“I am so proud of what events went on today,” said Senator Tara Crawford with a smile. “I will always remember this.”
Still, other senators did not share Griffin’s enthusiasm.
“Nothing about what happened in here was funny,” said Senator Ryan Morand as he responded to some senators who laughed as they handled the impeachment issue. “I’m terribly embarrassed about what happened here.”
Concerned with, but not worried about the impeachment, Rivers plans to continue with his duties.
“I’m just going to do what the students have elected me to do and that is to serve as student body president,” Rivers said.
He emphasized the fact that with no quorum in the student Supreme Court the motion was basically “symbolic” and holds no weight. Quorum is the number of officers or members of a body that when duly assembled is legally competent to transact business. For the Student Supreme Court, five justices are needed to rule on a decision.
Morton said an ad hoc committee will decide if the impeachment decision is valid. But because there is not a full Student Supreme Court, the ad hoc committee’s decision will go directly to the vice-president of student affairs, Patricia Green-Powell.