2 SA assembly members under investigation, 3 others resign
Liam Sheehan | Staff Photographer
Student Association’s Judicial Review Board is investigating two assembly members for failing to attend mandatory Monday night SA meetings.
In addition to the investigations, three other assembly members have also resigned from their positions after referrals to the JRB, said Matthew VanDemark, chair of SA’s JRB.
The news of these investigations came the same week the JRB announced it had found SA President Eric Evangelista guilty of violating multiple SA bylaws.
Janine Bogris, chair of SA’s Board of Elections and Membership, said at the Feb. 13 meeting five assembly members had been referred to the JRB after accumulating an excessive number of demerits. The assembly members received the demerits because of their unexcused absences from Monday night meetings, Bogris said.
For each missed roll call at a Monday night meeting, assembly members receive two demerits, Bogris said. Once assembly members accumulate 12 demerits, they are referred to the JRB for a hearing.
Hearings for the two assembly members under investigation are expected to take place next week, VanDemark said.
Nicole Sherwood, SA’s chair of public relations, said details on the ongoing investigations are confidential.
VanDemark said a final report on the current investigations will not be made public when the investigations are over, but the public will know which positions were dismissed when the positions are opened to the public.
The final results of the JRB’s investigation into Evangelista were made public because an email Evangelista mistakenly sent to the student body alerted the public of the investigation, VanDemark said.
This is not the first time that assembly members have been investigated by the JRB during the 60th Legislative Session. Minutes from an SA cabinet meeting in October, which are posted on the SA website, revealed that the JRB had been conducting investigations of assembly members.
According to minutes from SA Cabinet Meeting 60.07 on Oct. 23, the JRB “decided on members to decide to take out of assembly.” It is unclear how many assembly members were being investigated when the JRB made this announcement at the Oct. 23 cabinet meeting.
At the meeting, the JRB also said it would meet with the assembly members under investigation before making final announcements. The final verdicts of the JRB’s investigations were not made public and were not discussed at subsequent assembly or cabinet meetings, according to the public minutes.
SA’s governing documents do not require JRB reports to be made public, VanDemark said. The reports are kept confidential to protect the identities of those with demerits, he added.
Special elections to fill the assembly seats made vacant in October are not mentioned in SA’s public minutes. VanDemark said the Board of Elections and Membership is responsible for filling vacancies and holding elections.
Bogris declined to comment on the October investigations because she was on a leave of absence at the time.
Tracey Ford, who was chair of the BEM during the October investigations, confirmed there was an investigation that took place in October.
If assembly members don’t attend Monday night meetings, the assembly can’t meet quorum. A quorum of at least a majority of membership plus one is required to vote on bills, according to the SA Constitution.
During the current legislative session, the SA assembly has twice been unable to meet quorum, most recently at its Feb. 13 meeting. The assembly’s inability to meet quorum at last week’s meeting resulted in the tabling of votes on two bills and delays in the confirmations of cabinet positions.
Sherwood said SA’s attendance is historically lower at the beginning of the semester because assembly members must acclimate to their new schedules and time commitments.
Bogris said assembly members that are in class or taking leaves of absences do not count toward quorum, making it difficult for the assembly to reach the minimum attendance numbers needed to vote on bills.
Some assembly members might be seeking tutoring during assembly meetings, and others have commitments to fraternity rush events, she added. Those aren’t excused absences, Bogris said. However, assembly members are not penalized or referred to the JRB until they reach 12 demerits.
SA met quorum at all Monday night meetings during the 59th Legislative Session under then-President Aysha Seedat.
Evangelista said SA is working to increase attendance at Monday night meetings by following parliamentary and judicial procedures more strictly. SA is also working on ways to ensure that members enjoy being part of the organization, he added.
“That’s something I think we’ve been a little lax on in the past semester,” Evangelista said.
Published on February 19, 2017 at 9:03 pm
Contact Jordan: firstname.lastname@example.org