Student Government (SG) senators passed a new amendment Tuesday to change impeachment procedures, while postponing the creation of a new committee to review charges against Senate President Pro Tempore Matthew Diaz.
The amendment, which still needs to be signed into law by SG President Juan Soltero, requires students to acquire 150 signatures from students or three senators showing approval of charges they wish to bring forth.
Senate President Jennifer Belmont said the amendment was created to make it harder to impeach an SG official.
“We want to make sure that the severity is in there,” she said, “Don’t go to impeachment if it’s something minor.”
Nicole Garcia, a senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, made the motion to move Diaz’s impeachment committee’s creation to Tuesday’s Senate meeting because the Official Trial Summary, containing SG’s Supreme Court’s investigation of the initial committee, won’t be available until tonight.
Brian Goff, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, filed a charge of nonfeasance – a “failure to perform an act that is either an official duty or legal requirement,” according to SG statutes – against Diaz for not updating senate meeting minutes on the SG Web site from September 2009 to Feb. 1.
The initial committee, created Feb. 23, ruled that Diaz’s actions did not merit the severity of impeachment. Goff then filed an appeal to SG’s Supreme Court.
The Court decided the committee failed to perform a proper investigation of the charges and wrote a recommendation to the Senate asking for the creation of a new committee or Diaz would be put on trial.
However, College of Arts and Sciences senator Kelly Budnick questioned the legality of the Court’s decision.
“I don’t understand where that comes from because that is not the Court’s right to determine whether there should be an investigation,” she said at the meeting.
But SG Associate Justice Lynn Kuznitz said the case fell within the Court’s jurisdiction.
“The power of the court is to make decisions on cases that come to us, we did not seek this out,” Kuznitz said. “It’s not in the constitution that we can, and it’s not in the constitution that we can’t.”
Goff said that, although the Senate hasn’t disobeyed the Court’s ruling yet, putting it off will “make it harder on themselves.”
“I almost want to say that they are going to do the same thing if they make the committee, but I think it’s too soon to make the assumption,” he said. “I think the big thing right now is making sure they do form this committee.”
Diaz was not at the meeting.