The Student Government senate handled the Oct. 13 senate election issue the right way in the decision it made late Tuesday night. The senate voted to amend SG statutes so the election to fill 23 vacant senate seats could be carried out in the right manner.
Under the original plan, senate President Jennifer Belmont would oversee the election despite SG statutes saying the Election Rules Commission (ERC) “oversees the execution and logistics of all SG elections.”
Former senator Richard Shockley raised concerns about the proposal at a Sept. 8 meeting, but SG Attorney General Cordell Chavis assured the senate that it was legal and the resolution passed.
Because Chavis seemed to contradict SG statutes, former student body presidential candidate Christopher Leddy called for his impeachment at a Sept. 22 meeting.
“Mr. Chavis issued a rather confident opinion in blatant disregard to the constitution and statutes of USF’s Student Government,” said Leddy in a memo of impeachment sent to senate President Pro Tempore Matthew Diaz. “This ‘legal opinion’ recklessly led to senate’s passing of (the resolution).”
With the interim election fast approaching, the senate needed a way to make it legitimate, and the amendment that passed Tuesday represents a good compromise between the two sides.
The ERC has not been formed yet and won’t be until after the election. Therefore, the senate voted to amend SG statutes so that SG Adviser Gary Manka, SG Office Manager Judy Pollock and an SG graduate assistant could oversee the election, which was changed from an “interim” to a “midterm” election.
The senate made the right decision by taking election oversight out of the hands of a single person. They have the right to change SG statutes, and doing so has made the legitimacy of the election unquestionable.
However, just because elections can now be overseen without the ERC does not mean Chavis is off the hook. Forming an impeachment committee was the right step.
The three-person committee will review Leddy’s impeachment memo to decide if it warrants further investigation, and they should give the charges serious consideration.
Chavis showed an obvious disregard or ignorance of SG statutes by giving legal advice that was explicitly contradictory. Without knowing the rules of SG, it is necessarily difficult for him to do his job correctly.
The senate made the right call by legitimizing this election, and they should continue to do the right thing by thoroughly considering Leddy’s call for impeachment.