Constitution problems plague SGA: Election, inauguration date validity questioned

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The Student Government Association’s choice to deviate from its constitution could invalidate the November election or cause the president-elect to take office immediately instead of in April as outlined in the proposed constitution.

The 2005 constitution, the last one approved by both MWSU administration and the student body, stipulates that presidential elections are held in March and elected officials must take office two weeks after the election.

The 2006 constitution, which was ratified by students but not by administration, moved the elections to November, and last November President Harold Callaway and Vice President Jennifer Kohler took office. After the 2006 constitution was voided, the constitution reverted back to the 2005 version, which the current SGA voted to modify to change the election date and inauguration.

The original 2005 constitution places the inauguration of President-Elect Josh Todd and Vice President Elect Ernest Chamblee two weeks after the election. That means Todd and Chamblee should have taken office Dec. 3, instead of April 20, as currently planned.

“We are not following that part of the 2005 constitution,” Associate Dean of Student Development and SGA Adviser Duane Bruce said.

Reverting to the 2005 constitution would prevent Callaway and Kohler from getting a third semester in their positions with free tuition for Callaway and reduced tuition for Kohler.

Some students remember former President Natalie Bailey and Vice President Luke Herrington also managed to get a third semester paid by changing the constitution to allow them to serve another semester. However, students approved that constitutional change, but the fall 2008 constitution change has not been ratified by students.

“The difference is that when the students voted to renew the constitution during our administration they were well aware of the additional semester and voted by majority of students for it,” Herrington said. “The way Callaway’s people are doing it makes their administration illegitimate. No student has voted for them to serve an additional semester.”

This section of the proposed constitution concerning when elected officials take office is in direct contradiction of the 2005 constitution, which states in Article II Section 3 “The inauguration of the successful block [of election candidates] shall be within two (2) weeks after the final election.”

In a recent e-mail to the Griffon News, Callaway included a copy of SGA Senate Resolution F08-01, which delays the inauguration until April 20. This resolution also approved the new constitution as authored by the SGA executive board and co-authored by Callaway and Kohler.

The resolution further resolves “our constitution will have a final draft to include all input from senate and branches of SGA and approved by the student body elections on November 18 and 19, 2008.”

Students were never given the opportunity to vote on this issue on the November ballot (see accompanying story).

Callaway said that he was under the impression that administration was supporting the changes proposed by the current SGA but also stated that he was ready to vacate the position if the decision comes for him to leave.

“I am financially prepared to leave office,” Callaway said.

Todd is also ready to assume office if decided by administration.

“We are ready,” said Todd. “Either way, we can start now or in April.”

Regardless of when Todd and Chamblee take office, Herrington advises the pair to “read the constitution forward and backwards. ?I don’t care what anyone says. ?The constitution is critical. ?The entire SGA is built on the constitution and it serves as the bedrock foundation of the organization. ?The incoming officers need to know it as well as the back of their hands… and they need to follow it.”

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