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Student Senate passes financial oversight reforms, discusses impeachment

| Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Notre Dame student senate met Wednesday to vote on a previously-discussed resolution to amend the Student Union constitution to add a provision allowing for oversight over the spending of the different student union organizations. This resolution is in response to concerns brought up in a meeting with the Financial Management Board (FMB) at the end of September about implementing some form of oversight for student union spending. The student senate also began discussing a resolution for implementing impeachment reform.

The financial oversight resolution differs from the original resolution in that FMB is the primary group tasked with the job of oversight. The Student Union treasurer is also tasked with meeting with the student senate once per semester to provide an update on student union fiscal policy.

The resolution was read to the senate by one of the sponsors, Samuel Delmer, a sophomore senator from the Dillon community in Baumer Hall. Delmer answered questions about the resolution afterwards.

Questions were related to specific language of the resolution such as what specific violations could result in impeachment and whether the word “and” or “or” should be used in a sub-clause. A friendly amendment from D.C. Morris, the junior senator from Fisher hall, changed the particular “or” to “as well as.” Senior Patrick Paulsen, a proxy representing Off-Campus Council inquired as to who the provision would help.

“Simple definition: like who does this benefit at Notre Dame?” Paulsen said.

Delmer said the amendment would be a positive for a wide group of people.

“This benefits basically everyone,” Delmer said. “There is currently no formal oversight over the student union organizations, and if they worked to spend over there wouldn’t be any formal way to address that sort of thing.”

Other questions centered on clarification as to whether the student union treasurer needs to meet with the senate and whether the bill was necessary. Patrick McGuire, student body vice president and a junior, pointed out that similar legislation about having the Club Coordination Council (CCC) and FMB meet with the student senate once per semester had been passed previously and used the same language as the bill’s present language.

Following the end of debate, the resolution was passed. After this, the senate discussed legislation in the works meant to reform the impeachment process. Thomas Davis, a sophomore and the parliamentarian, was the sponsor of the working resolution and wanted to make the process one of removal as opposed to impeachment.

“So right now, the way it stands is, if there’s a complaint, it goes to the Student Union Ethics Commission,” Davis said. “They take a look at it, then if they believe there is a problem, they refer to the senate, which then votes on impeachment by a majority, and then turns around and hears the exact same complaint to vote on removal, which requires a two-thirds majority. That to my eyes seemed a little bit redundant.”

Davis then highlighted how he thinks this process should be altered with the first and final step not receiving any alterations.

“If [the Ethics Commission] believes that there has been an ethics violation, they would then refer that to the committee on constitution. If you’re going to have a separate body other than the senate take a look at constitutionality of an issue,” Davis said. “I believe that would be the best smaller body to take a look at the issues.”

Questions and arguments centered on the precedent of previous student governments’ impeachment process and on the merits of having senate be the place to make the appeal as opposed to the constitutional committee.

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