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Letter to the editor

Student Senate violates bylaws in senators’ punishment

March 21, 2013

As a former member of Student Senate, I am appalled that the Senate has chosen to punish two of its members for alleged rules violations. However, my disgust is not due to the guilty verdict, but rather the penalty the Senate chose to apply. Honestly, I don’t know what the evidence was against the two members charged, so I can’t speak on their guilt. The members charged were ultimately given demerit points, and one of them had their monthly stipend docked by Senate.

This may seem like small potatoes to a bystander, but in taking this action, the Senate turned its back on its own bylaws.

The bylaws mandate that in ethics cases, like the one regarding these two members, the Senate can take three courses of action – they can remove the senator from office, they can issue up to four demerits to the member or they can issue a formal letter of reprimand. The bylaws specifically delineate the actions that the Senate is allowed to take. Yet the Senate chose to instead issue an illegal fine on one of its members, an action not condoned or allowed anywhere in Senate governing documents. The Senate also chose to issue demerits to the members, and the amount given in both cases exceeded the four demerits established as a legal maximum.

Someone within the leadership of the Senate should have known these rules and should have ensured that they were followed. They failed to do so, and the entire Senate chose instead to break its own rules. The Senate has the audacity to accuse others of violating its bylaws, while it willingly tramples on that very same document in its ruling. Pot, meet kettle.

Patrick Okan
UWRF alumnus