After weeks of struggling to maintain quorum at its meetings, the Georgetown University Student Association Senate will have to replace eight of its chronically absent members and fill one seat that no one ran for in the fall.
At last week’s sparsely attended meeting, members were outraged at their flagging numbers. After phoning numerous students just to get enough senators to meet quorum, the Senate issued a call for the expulsion of four members—Emmanuel Hampton (COL ‘11), Alex Meyer (COL ‘10), Matt Breen (MSB ‘10), and Joe Curran (SFS ‘09)—for excessive absences.
Under official GUSA bylaws, a senator may be expelled after three absences, but expelling him or her is a rather arduous process. Ten to fourteen days after the Senate calls for a member’s expulsion, the remaining senators vote on the final verdict. A senator can only be expelled by a three-fourths majority.
Rather than waiting for things to run their natural course, one senator decided to take matters into his own hands. Tim Swenson (COL ‘10) sent an e-mail to the entire Senate on Tuesday, urging those who do not attend meetings to resign before the meeting this week.
“I’m frustrated, and I think everyone else is frustrated too,” Swenson said. “People have the impression that we’re this inactive body that’s not doing anything, and it doesn’t help that people aren’t coming to meetings. We need to start enforcing the rules.”
The e-mail had an immediate impact. All of the chronically absent members resigned early this week.
Meyer, who went to only a handful of meetings, cited scheduling conflicts as well as personal reasons.
“I went to the first five to get a feel for things and, I don’t know, I don’t think they get much done,” Meyer said. “You don’t have much of a voice … I felt like a lot of people already knew each other.”
Breen also resigned, citing a prior commitment he voiced at the beginning of the year that prevented him from making most of the meetings. He was not notified by the Senate about his proposed expulsion, but rather found out through Vox Populi, the Voice’s blog.
“I am disgusted by the way I was informed,” Breen said.
Greer said he did not formally notify the senators up for expulsion because the issue would have been decided during next week’s meeting. He did say he “took care of things on a personal level,” thanking resigned senators for their service.
In order for GUSA to hold an election to fill its nine vacancies, it must go through the Election Commission, an outside, student-run organization. Greer hopes that the elections can be linked to GUSA’s upcoming presidential election, or that they can be held without using the online system GUSA has used in the past.
Greer envisioned a system using a cardboard box placed in a common area of each district.
Senators debated several methods of filling the nine vacancies, including having the Senate appoint new members. In the end, most agreed that to appoint people to the open seats would be against GUSA’s constitution, and that an election should be held, however, the Senate did not come to an official decision.