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Saving the longest for last

The debate over the bill in support of a referendum to eliminate student court and giving its responsibilities back to Student Senate’s proved to be the longest and most heated of the semester.

The debate ended more than an hour after  the bill’s passage by a roll call vote of 24-6.

With its passage, there will be not only this but another referendum — also passed at this meeting — set for the spring 2013 Student Senate elections. The debated referendum will allow students to decide whether the university should keep the Student Court, or if it should be eliminated and its powers given back to Senate.

There were several motions that were voted on before the bill was voted on as a whole. It included an amendment to the proposed amendment of the bill. This led to Sen. Sam Milewsky describing it as “Amendment Inception” during discussion.

The complex nature of the debate led to a standstill at several points while senate executives were forced to discuss proper parliamentary procedure before continuing further.
Freshman Sen. Jake Wrasse, who was appointed to Senate just the week before, voiced concerns with the bill but ultimately voted in favor of it.

“I was most worried that the bill was vague in the way that it would address how, if we got rid of student court, that process would continue,” Wrasse said.

Wrasse and other senators were worried about potential conflicts of interest if the judicial powers were reinstated to Student Senate.

Upon elimination of the court, the Internal Affairs Commission would then take over the responsibilities of any contentions with the Student Body Constitution and ensuring fair elections were held, according to the bill.

The Student Court was created in reaction to a previous election, Information Technology Commission Director Ben Streeter said during the debate, in which online voting was allowed and there was a contentious president/vice president race.

“It was a closely elected ticket for president and vice president, and it ended up being very closely lost,” he said. “Some people were saying that others had cheated.”

The Student Court was set in place in case a close election was to happen again. But the court has not really functioned, nor has it heard virtually any cases after its formation, according to Vice President Patrick Martin.

This fact is the reason Sen. Christian Paese said he was in favor putting the referendum forward.

“I see this more as an efficiency standpoint,” Paese said. “I think any organization … should be efficient. We (senators) are working for our students and we need to make sure that we are able to respond rapidly.”

There was a motion to table the bill to allow further discussion, which was voted down by placard vote, 13-16.

Those who voted in favor of tabling argued there was not enough known about the court and that there should be more discussion, while those who voted against tabling it were worried that if the referendum was tabled that it would not be addressed in a timely fashion.

This Dec. 10 meeting marks the end of Student Senate meetings for the Fall 2012 semester. Things will get picked back up, including voting on the Blugold Commitment Differential Tuition budget, next spring.

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