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Majority signs bill to begin senator’s impeachment

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, March 1, 2007

The majority of Student Senate members signed a bill Wednesday to impeach Morrissey senator Greg Dworjan, who led a campaign to abstain during the period between the student body president election and the run-off election two weeks ago.

The Senate’s decision was a “statement of signature” rather than an actual vote, student body vice president Bill Andrichik said. The Senate will vote next week whether to remove Dworjan from office, which will require a two-thirds majority.

Dworjan was found guilty of violating two articles in the Student Union Constitution.

He used the copy machine in the student government office to make flyers that urged people to vote abstain in the run-off election, violating a rule that campaigning may not take place on the second floor of LaFortune in the student government office.

Dworjan also posted the flyers without getting them approved by the Judicial Council and the Student Activities Office, which was a second violation.

The Executive Committee of the Judicial Council decided last week that these two allegations were not actual election violations and sent the issue to the Student Union Ethics Board for consideration.

The Ethics Board voted Tuesday 7-1 that Dworjan’s use of student government resources was a violation of ethics and decided in a vote of 4-3-1 to recommend the Senate impeach Dworjan.

Before the impeachment vote, Dworjan took the podium at the Senate and gave a speech. He asked senators to consider his actions a “foolish mistake,” rather than unethical behavior.

Dworjan said his interpretation of the constitution was that it defined campaigning as “any public contact for the solicitation of votes. Personal appearances, placement of posters or distribution of election materials is considered campaigning.”

Dworjan said he did not think he violated the part of the constitution that prohibits campaigning in the Student Union office.

“Does making copies of posters sound like openly asking for votes? I don’t believe it does,” he said.

Dworjan encouraged senators to reexamine the Student Union Constitution, which he said has many flaws.

Senators did spend approximately an hour and a half looking over amendments introduced by Senate Oversight committee chair Chris Hollon. Of the four resolutions Hollon introduced to amend the constitution, three passed.

The amendments stemmed from previous discussions in the Senate. The Senate unanimously passed a resolution to eliminate the presidential division budget from the Student Union Board (SUB)’s overall budget and to transfer this budget so it is under the Office of the Student Body President. Previous discussion in Senate meetings said this would streamline the process by which student government can access this money.

The Senate also unanimously passed a resolution that would allow the Judicial Council president to sit on the Financial Management Board (FMB). Judicial Council president Liz Kozlow said this will greatly improve the communication between the two groups.

“Judicial Council’s always asking for more funding,” Kozlow said. “We request allocations just like any other student group.”

FMB continued to play a role in Senate discussion, as senators disagreed with the wording of an amendment regarding FMB approvals. Currently, FMB approves requests of $5,000 or five percent of the requesting organization’s budget, and student groups only have to wait for FMB approval if their requests surpass that amount.

SUB manager Pat Vassel said increasing that level to 10 percent would enable his group to book events more quickly, without having to go through FMB. The senators agreed to raise the limit to 10 percent.

“SUB has a history of being fiscally responsible with who they decide to bring in,” Breen-Phillips senator Maris Braun said. “If we decide to give them ten percent, I don’t think the Student Union is going to go crazy. I think that SUB’s purpose is to enhance daily life.”

The Senate voted 22-1-1 to pass the amendment with the change.

The resolution that did not pass was generated by the confusion surrounding the recent student body elections. No ticket received 50 percent plus one of the vote in the primary election. Neither the Liz Brown-Maris Braun nor the Danny Smith-Ashley Weiss tickets secured 50 percent plus one votes in the run-off election either, so in a closed meeting Feb. 18, senators voted 15-13 – according to the pluralities in their respective residence halls – to elect Brown and Braun.

Since this process created controversy in the Senate, the Oversight committee introduced an amendment that would change the election system so a plurality would win in the run-off election. In the event of a tie – which would be very unlikely – the votes would be broken down by dorm, and whatever ticket had the majority of dorms would win,

Senators disagreed about the wording of a new amendment and questioned the purpose of an abstain vote in the run-off election.

The amendment failed to win the three-fourths vote called for by the constitution regarding election bylaws during election season. Hollon said he would bring up the amendment again after election season, when it would only require two-thirds approval in the Senate.