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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Student Government

Appeals against President-elect unmerited


A month after Student Government Association President-elect Charles Haston was exonerated of allegations of a Class A violation, Haston has found himself in the clear again.

A request for a writ of certiorari was wholly denied by the SGA Court of Appeals Tuesday evening. The appeal that was filed with the Court requested a review of SGA Attorney General David Ghably’s decision on a complaint regarding an expletive Haston shouted at the chief elections commissioner, according to court documents.

“It was a conversation that was not for public consumption,” Haston said. “It was a private conversation in an office with the door closed, and unfortunately, somebody heard about it, and it happened to be a political candidate trying to exploit it.”

The original complaint was filed by vice presidential candidate of The “We” Party Roberto Martinez III, and Ghably found it to be unmerited. Dissatisfied with the decision, Martinez and his presidential candidate, Naeem Abdullah, jointly filed the writ in the SGA Court.

The appeal pointed to violations in the Student Code of Conduct in regards to standards, harassment, disruption and obstruction, University policies and procedures, and mental or bodily harm, along with a section of the Texas Penal Code that addresses disorderly conduct — each of which are potential Class A violations.

But the Court of Appeals found the allegations against Haston to be “irrelevant,” lacking merit or outside of its jurisdiction, SGA chief justice Fatima Syed said. The Court can make rulings only on SGA’s governing documents, which are its constitution, bylaws and election rules and regulations.

“If there is some sort of violation, and if the proper authorities actually deem it to be a legitimate violation, then we can take that account into our decision,” Syed said. “But we’re not the body that is able to actually make that decision.”

According to the ruling, jurisdiction about the student code of conduct would be made by the dean of students, and either the dean or city officials can determine the validity of the alleged Texas Penal Code infractions.

Abdullah was unswayed by the Court’s decision to strike down his appeal and said that he intends to push forward with filing a complaint with the Dean of Students Office.

“They’re not students, so we can’t expect them to act like students and do the honorable thing on behalf of students,” Abdullah said. “But I’m hoping that, as administrators that care about our student process, that they look into the situation with the evidence presented and with the proposal of the court of appeals and move forward with the state of Texas law and the student code of conduct.”

Haston said he knew the Court would not take up the appeal, adding that Abdullah had no ground to file the complaint because he neither was there during the original incident nor had standing to present a case on mental harm. He also said this was an effort to undermine the voters’ decision. Haston and running mate Erica Tat beat out The “We” Party presidential slate by 20 percent during the run-off elections.

“This was a desperate attempt to try and steal the election because he couldn’t win with the voters,” Haston said. “At some point you just have to accept that, unfortunately, the student body didn’t choose him.”

Haston has reached out to former Chief Elections Commissioner Kendrick Alridge to lead a task force on election reform in the coming month. The presidential inauguration will take place.

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