Senate Executive Committee denies senators’ seats

The Student Government Senate Executive Committee (SEC) officially voted against seating three elected senators who were previously denied seats in the SG senate.

During a special election held by the SG Election Rules Commission (ERC) in April, Nicole Nolan was elected to a senatorial seat in the College of Medicine. Justin McNabb and former student body presidential candidate Christopher Leddy were elected to seats in the College of Arts and Sciences.

However, there were no vacant seats available in those colleges at the time the election results were certified, said former Supervisor of Elections Michael van Hoek in a Notice of Special Election.

SG Senator Jennifer Belmont said in an e-mail to the Oracle that the SEC faced two possible choices regarding the final decision.

“Should the senate executives do the ‘right thing’ and allow senators to be sat and risk a supreme court case?” Belmont said. “Or should the senate executives follow the law, not allow the senators to be sat and still have a supreme court case from the three students who were not sat?”

The SEC, composed of SG senate officers, voted against seating the senators-elect despite four recent resignations that have left vacant seats in those colleges.

The decision followed the legal opinion of SG Attorney General Cordell Chavis.

“Because the ERC did not file the proper paperwork with the pro tempore, thus verifying that the senate seat was indeed open,” he said. “The election was not proper and should have not taken place, thus the senators cannot be sat.”

The SG constitution states that no student may be a candidate for election to the senate until a certification from Student Affairs attesting that the candidate has met all of the qualifications for office has been filed with the SG senate president pro tempore.

Belmont said that former Senate President Pro Tempore Jerry Trotter did not receive any paperwork from the ERC to certify Leddy, McNabb and Nolan.
SG could take three possible courses of action following the SEC’s decision, Belmont said.

The SEC could exercise its right to appoint alternate senators, who are temporarily appointed to absentee senatorial seats only during the summer semester.

Belmont said there are at least two absentee seats in the College of Arts and Sciences, but none in the College of Medicine. Therefore, Leddy and McNabb could be temporarily appointed to the senate, but Nolan could not.

The SG could also call for a special election or a midterm election in the fall to fill the vacant seats.