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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

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SGA passes bill allowing for suspension of VP


SGA Vice President Rohini Sethi reviews the terms of her proposed suspension. | Nguyen Le/The Cougar

Senators handed the right to suspend SGA Vice President Rohini Sethi to President Shane Smith, who will announce his sanctions by 5 p.m. Friday. | Nguyen Le/The Cougar

Amid concerns about the organization’s accountability from students and senators, the SGA Senate passed a bill Wednesday that allows for Vice President Rohini Sethi to be suspended for her controversial words on social media.

The bill, SGAB-5304, passed with 13 votes of approval, two against and one abstaining. It gives President Shane Smith a one-time power to sanction Sethi.

Smith will announce his sanctions by 5 p.m. Friday.

The Senate discussed the final draft of the bill for less than 15 minutes. They spent two and a half hours discussing a resolution that would have placed Sethi on a 45-day suspension and required her to attend a program through Libra Project, a Houston-based diversity workshop.

The SGA Constitution’s bylaws state that any leave of absence from a stipend position for longer than three weeks is not paid.  According to the Senate resolution, if Sethi did not complete the workshop to the organization’s satisfaction, the Senate would again vote on whether to impeach her.

Smith disagreed with the proposed resolution. He instead suggested enacting a bill that would grant him the power to suspend Sethi and determine her sanctions, which is a similar proposal to what the Senate eventually passed. 

Undergraduate Senator-at-Large Paul O’Brien objected to the passed resolution, stating his concern about presidential abuse of power.

“We just gave him the one-time power to fire the only people in that office that could tell him no, which could last a day or the entire administration,” said O’Brien. “(The Senate has) power, and we just got undermined.”

All other items on the agenda were moved to a special session next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Senate Chamber. 

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