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Sunday, December 5, 2021

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Recall nullified, SGA upended by Justice Department


Recall

The SGA Senate will no longer meet in the chambers until the end of the semester, due to a lack of quorum.  | Haya Panjwani/The Cougar

The Student Government Association is divided as their recall election spurred a series of complaints as well as several suspensions and a few removals from office.

Here is a guide on the status of SGA positions that have changed in the past week as well as updates on the recall and its aftermath.

President

The SGA President is an elected official responsible for representing the student body to the University administration, Board of Regents and the Texas Legislature.

The President also spearheads executive projects and programs on campus and puts forth policies to the UH student experience.

Arsalan Darbin is the current SGA President, but is under suspension in light of allegations brought against him by senators and members of his cabinet. 

Darbin will be unable to perform his presidential duties until Dec. 19 and is required to complete four diversity workshops or an equivalent offered by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

If Darbin fails to meet these requirements, he will be removed from office and Vice President will assume the role of President.

Vice President 

The student body Vice President is also an elected official whose responsibility is to aid the President with executive projects, programs and policies. The position is also tasked with student representative appointments for boards, councils and university committees.

The current Vice president Maryam Alghafir, who is now taking on the duties of President, but without the title of acting President.

According to the SGA constitution, in the absence of the President, or in the event that the President is unable to perform their duties, the Vice President will assume the role of President.

The Vice President, along with members of the cabinet, will be required to complete a diversity and inclusion training of their choice along with a mandatory intensive leadership training before returning to office. 

Speaker of the Senate

The Speaker of the Senate is elected by senators at the first senate meeting of the new SGA administration. As the head of the senate, the Speaker’s responsibility is to conduct senate meetings and to coordinate senate committees.

The current Speaker of the Senate is David Paul Hilton, who is suspended until Dec.19 for holding a senate meeting where senators voted in favor of a resolution to amend the recall election code.

Normally the position of Speaker would be filled in by a Speaker Pro Tempore in the absence of the speaker, however the senator who holds that position is also suspended until the remainder of the fall semester.

Senators

Senators are responsible for passing legislation regarding administration and finance, academic and internal affairs, student life as well as graduate and professional student affairs.

Before the recall election, there were 31 sitting senators, 17 being suspended following the Oct. 20 senate meeting where an amendment to the recall election code was voted on.

The bill was unconstitutional according to Attorney General Nadiia Hutcherson, and ultimately led to the majority of the senate being suspended and not meeting quorum. 

After close review of the meeting, the attorney general rescinded the suspension of two senators, but decided to remove three from office after multiple election code violations.

Although there are still enough members to make quorum, Hutcherson exercised her power as attorney general and stated there wouldn’t be any senate meetings for the duration of fall semester since a little under half of the senators were suspended for similar violations.

Since the attorney general was given the power to preside over all activities related to the recall, the supreme court ruled this as constitutional.

Recall results, what now?

The recall election for President Darbin took place Oct. 26-27, and was available to the student body online. 

The results showed more than half of the students who voted wanted Darbin out, but this didn’t hold up for long.

A supreme court decision ruled in favor of the attorney general wanting to overturn the election, citing that it’s within the position’s jurisdiction according to their recall election code.

Darbin will remain in his position and is allowed to resume his duties following mandatory training and the completion of his suspension, in the meantime his Vice President will assume his duties with no title change.

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Correction: This story has been updated on why the Speaker of the Senate was suspended.

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