Some Student Government Association senators are crying foul about new leadership playing fast and loose with the organization’s constitution.
SGA Treasurer Tony Grettenberger will form a review committee in response to formal complaints about Senate appointments and executive council actions in the first week of Justin Gawronski and Anna Dvorak’s administration.
According to the complaints, the elections in the Senate were in violation of Bylaw Article II Section 1, which in part states, “A Senate seat that becomes vacant shall be filled by the General Board.” By moving forward on Senate appointments without the General Board, the complaints allege the Gawronski administration has effectively negated the House.
The review committee, will, according to the SGA Bylaw Article V Section 5, have the power to interpret the constitution and bylaws of the SGA and review the constitutionality of recent actions taken by SGA President Gawronski and Vice President Dvorak. Review committees can only be formed after the submission of three formal written complaints by members of the SGA.
The committee would normally be composed of the treasurer, two senators and two House representatives randomly chosen by the House and a representative of the Office of Student Life. Grettenberger, a Lansing senior, said he will abstain from taking part in the committee because of personal bias toward the administration.
The complaints were made by SGA senators Whitney Smith, a Northville senior, William Joseph, a Brighton junior, and House Representative Nick Kastros, a Saginaw senior. They submitted the complaints to Grettenberger, in regard to seven new senators assigned by the Senate Monday night. Those candidates, approved by majority vote by the Senate, have yet to be confirmed by the General Board, composed of the Senate, the House and the Executive branch.
The potential senators will stand for confirmation by a process of individual majority vote by the General Board. The three complaints also address the appointments of Hesperia senior Killian Richeson as elections director and Grosse Pointe junior Anthony J. Smith as membership director.
The complaints also address recent appointments made by the Gawronski administration to fill the elections director and memberships director positions. Both the elections director and the membership director are e-council positions, which require a campus-wide application process per the Bylaw Article V Sections 7 and 9.
According to the complaints addressed to the SGA, the Gawronski administration failed to execute a campus-wide application process, which they claim is evident by the appointment of Smith and Richeson 45 minutes after the administration came into power.
Joseph, one of the senators to issue a complaint, said he feels the appointment of the new e-council positions was troubling, because it did not give an equal chance for the entire student body to gain the positions.
“How can you claim to have a campus-wide application process and elect somebody to an e-council position within 45 minutes?” Joseph asked. “It doesn’t make any sense, and it is unfair.”
Grettenberger said Monday night’s Senate appointments also denied students a voice in the process.
“Students deserve to have an election process that is fair,” he said. “Instead, what has happened is that Justin and Anna have interpreted the constitution to their own favor, and have picked students out of their own values and not out of any judgement of merit.”
If the review committee finds either the appointments to the e-council or the elections unconstitutional, the committee can strike them both as void and call for elections or new appointments to fill the seven seats and two positions.
Gawronski and Dvorak both said all of the appointments were constitutional and gave equal opportunity to the student body.
Gawronski, a Macomb junior, said the e-council appointments were not influenced by any personal bias, and his selection of Richeson who he ran against for the position of SGA president shows his lack of bias.
“Every appointment that has been made has been based on merit and merit alone,” Gawronski said, pointing out he did hold a campus-wide application process for the e-council positions and that how the process was carried out is up to his interpretation.
He said the senators were only nominated by the Senate, and will be put up for confirmation Monday by the General Board, in order to conform with the SGA’s constitution. Gawronski said provisions in the constitution are by no means strict rules to dictate every action.
“What is written in the constitution are guidelines, and they are somewhat vague,” Gawronski said.
He said a similar appointment process has been used in the past and is nothing new to SGA.
“I myself was elected as a senator this way,” Gawronski said.
Grettenberger said viewing the constitution as guidelines is inaccurate.
“That’s absurd,” Gretternburger said. “The constitution is not mere guidelines … and it can’t be if the SGA wants to consistently represent the students.”
Gawronski and Dvorak will form two SGA committees to address the complaints. The first is a constitution and by-laws committee, which will review the constitution and deem if any changes should be made. The second is an ad-hoc committee which will address student concerns outside of constitutional issues.
Both committees will be chaired by Dvorak and composed of representatives from both the Senate appointed by her and members of the House appointed by the Speaker of the House, Westland junior Patrick O’Connor.
“The students have elected us as their representatives,” Dvorak said. “They should trust that we will be impartial.”