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DePaul SGA constitutional crisis

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SGA's constitution lacks an impeachment process. (Bloomsberries | Creative Commons)

SGA’s constitution lacks an impeachment process. (Bloomsberries | Creative Commons)

As we inch closer to the painful process of watching candidates for student government spam their campaign messages across social media, we have to ask the question: Does Student Government Association (SGA) really matter? The truth is, it does.

SGA has many important jobs to do such as chairing the SAF-B committee, representing students on the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and of course, presiding over student wishes and translating those wishes into positive changes.

Past initiatives have included important improvements to the campus such as water bottle filling stations, the coordination of Blue Demon Week and the facilitation of important civic engagement events such as the Chicago candidate meet and greet this January, which was a remarkable success.

An anonymous source within SGA talked about their reservations about the organization itself. “With our Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs resigning over a scheduling conflict, this marks our 5th resignation since November.” That’s a strikingly large number, as the total SGA body consists of 22 total elected positions.

“It’s because SGA can’t get anything done, and the constant back and forth is just too much to handle. The impeachment discussions are rather disappointing,” the anonymous SGA member said.

Looking up SGA’s constitution, its impeachment section has been left entirely blank. Student Government brought the constitution to the floor in November of last year. To keep a long story short, the discussions were very unproductive and the final discussion was tabled mid-way through, leaving SGA with no impeachment process.

As a student of political science, and someone who wishes to go on writing legislation, I have studied the constitutions of many of DePaul’s student organizations, and I have watched and waited for SGA to do something about this problem for five months.

SGA’s purpose is to create positive changes on campus for students. No, SGA cannot reduce tuition, but it does represent your voice. And don’t you want your voice represented responsibly?

The Office of Student Involvement’s (OSI) guidelines indicate that it is necessary to answer two questions: what does your impeachment process look like and who is involved in           this process?

SGA, however, has forgone this discussion entirely, and the Constitutional Revisions Board has done very little to improve the situation.

OSI implemented these guidelines because they realized it helped organizations follow the tenets of Socially Responsible Leadership. Shouldn’t SGA be held to a higher standard than the rest of the university when they are spending our hard-earned tuition dollars on programming? I think everyone should be held to high standards, especially SGA since they are representing the study body as a whole.

Theoretically speaking, what if a senator transfers from the college he represents? Logically, we would presume they would and should resign, but there is currently no clause that would mandate that. Sure, the constitution states that no senator shall represent a student body that they are not a part of, but it also gives no process for making that happen.

The impeachment process was created for the exceptional cases of representatives in government who cannot fulfill their duties. Without this basic process, the entire system of government can be called into question. Why has SGA waited to create an impeachment process for five months? Does SGA intend to allow its senators to serve a full term without recourse for disruptive behavior?

What if a member of SGA begins to advocate for policies and programs that go against the interests of the student body? What if a member of Student Government is unable to resign and, heaven forbid, has become incapacitated? These are serious questions; questions our student government fails to answer. To me, this is not only embarrassing, but it is irresponsible to allow this problem to go on for as long as it has.

To be clear, this is not a criticism of any particular person or persons affiliated with SGA. It is a call to action for SGA to fix this shameful and embarrassing display of political atrophy at once. Bring a constitution to the floor that has an impeachment process that benefits all of DePaul.

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DePaul SGA constitutional crisis