At the beginning of the spring semester, the Student Government Association is already in shambles.
With the forced resignation of three of its most active members -Michael Germano, Matt Bucci, and Eric Marco – one question lies in the mind of the SGA and the student body as a whole: what requires resignation from a student organization?
“Each semester, the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs [Monique Drucker] looks over the student leaders and makes sure they are in good academic and judicial standing,” Kerstin Soderlund, the Director of the Student Center and Student Leadership Development said. “This office tells us who is not in good judicial standing and proper repercussions are enforced.”
Upon speaking with Drucker, she said she had a limited role in the resignation of these members and she was only upholding the Constitution set by the SGA themselves.
“It is a standard procedure per their constitution. In order to hold a SGA position, they have to be in good judicial standing,” she said. “I am just asked to look into their records. I do not have any of the interpretations of what they have done. Judicial records are confidential.”
Soderlund said the Office of Student Affairs deems what counts as a lesser and more serious infraction.
As stated in the student handbook, infractions from housing probation to expulsion set an individual into bad judicial standings.
The actual infractions, which led to the forced resignations, are unknown and would not be stated by the aforementioned individuals. However, Bucci, a former junior representative, does not feel proper actions were taken when dealing with the incident.
“[The event] is something I wish did not happen and I take full responsibility for my actions, however, I do not feel my actions warranted my resignation,” he said.
Marco, a former junior representative, went on to state he thought the student government acted in an unprofessional manner when dealing with the incident.
“I felt it was very unprofessional. We were forced to resign right before finals and Christmas break,” Marco said. “However, I do not regret my actions and I do not think they warrant judicial sanctions.”
Germano, the former Vice President of Public Relations, was unavailable for comment regarding this topic.
Kristin Vidile, the Vice President of Finance, stated she stands behind the decision of the executive board on this topic, but also stated she does not believe the members should have been forced to resign.
“I have not viewed their judicial records, but I know them and I know the charges were not serious,” she said.
However, as stated in article four: Elections in the constitution, the SGA said a member can, “not be on any judicial disciplinary sanctions or academic probation.”
“A judicial sanction can mean so many things. There is no line about what you can get for an offence,” Vidile said. “For example, being caught drinking can get you anything from community service to any higher sanction.”
Mike Radpavar, the President of the Junior Class, agreed with Vidile about the uncertainty of the term judicial sanctions.
“A judicial sanction according to the constitution is not defined, so it could be anything from noise, to a tapestry, to public drunkenness,” he said.
Soderlund stated her beliefs on the wording of the current constitution. In her mind, the SGA should be on the same level as the University itself and with the current bylaw there stands room for dispute.
“I do not think it is wise to define in some other terms what defines a judicial sanction,” she said. “Therefore, I do not think SGA should be drawing a different line.”
During the Student Government meeting, which took place on Wednesday, January 21, the members went into an executive session to discuss the reworking of this section of the constitution.
“I am personally making a motion to make sure an event will be avoided in the future,” Radpavar said. “The purpose of my motion is not to lower the standards of a SGA member but to make clear the requirements of being a member.”
Bucci stated he believes the wording of this section of the constitution is one of the downfalls of the organization.
“SGA is a strong organization,” he said. “But they do need to look within the organization so that instances like this do not occur again.”
But, nonetheless, the act of forced resignation held true to the constitution approved by the Student Awareness Committee.
“The entire situation was a matter of necessity. These students weren’t able to hold positions because of their actions,” Dennis Kisyk, the Vice President of Student Concerns said. “Had people made different choices, there would be a different outcome.”
Melissa Dudra, the President of the SGA, stated the organization has always held true to their constitution and these members should have realized the consequences of their actions.
“I think the whole situation is very unfortunate, but we are sticking to our laws,” Dudra said. “It is my understanding that we have always done this. Everything that has been brought to my attention has been dealt.”
Kisyk, on the other hand, feels this is the first time the editorial board, followed their written by-laws.
“Executive boards in the past did not uphold the constitution. They actually went against it,” he said. “We did what we had to do, no matter if it was right or wrong. It is a new year and a new approach.”