SGA schedules crucial USO budget meeting

Lack of quorum leads to impeachment plans, student-led petitions, new safety mechanism

The Student Government Association (SGA) approved the spirit of Greek Council’s budget after President Nick Santulli vetoed the Senate’s decision to deny last week. No other business was conducted during three scheduled meetings due to an unexpected lack of senatorial quorum.

All University Student Organization’s (USO) budgets were left unconsidered as a result of the absences. A final SGA meeting was scheduled at end of Monday’s meetings for 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 25 in the Waxahachie room.

SGA requires eight voting senators in order to achieve a meeting’s quorum, and seven out of the 14 were absent — three with excused absences. Several minutes into the first of Monday’s SGA meetings, after it was apparent that quorum was not met, the cabinet broke normal discussion to read aloud an email they received from a group named the “Tiger Four.”

The senators in the group insinuated that they would not attend the meeting due to academic constraints and a commitment to representing the entire student body. The Trinitonian reached out to SGA representatives for the email and were unable to obtain it.

“Senator Alex Perkowski, senator Manfred Wendt, senator Juan Levanos and senator Travis Fulkerson were clearly involved with this and discussed not showing up beforehand,” said first-year senator Ty Tinker. “What these senators have done is unmistakably collusive and is a poor decision on their part. It’s disappointing.”

Approximately 60 fraternity and sorority members, wearing their respective jerseys, sat in rows around SGA’s table as they discussed how to proceed with the USO budget deliberations before the ostensible last meeting of the semester ended without a decision. The cabinet and senators nervously noted the potential externalities of ending the year without SGA having doled out any of their share of the student involvement fee to USOs.

“After the email was read there was deliberation over how voting was going to occur because voting could not occur without a quorum,” said junior communication major Madison Sawyer, who attended Monday’s first meeting. “[The Tiger Four] weren’t going to come so that they could represent the ‘other’ 75 percent of campus. The senators brought up the fact that if [the Tiger Four] weren’t going to take their positions seriously and be there for the rest of campus should they really be senators? At the end of the first SGA meeting they had decided that impeachment would be the best option in order to properly address all campus organizations and budgets that need to be covered for this year.”

SGA scheduled two more meetings for the same night. One occurred behind closed doors and the other allowed public attendance at 7:30 p.m.

If senators are absent from three SGA meetings without valid excuses they are subject to impeachment by the association. No senator absent from the first meeting attended the second or third.

“The three-meeting plan was definitely something that was conceived in the moment,” said Nick Santulli, SGA president. “I don’t think we expected to be so surprised. I think in the aftermath of that everyone was trying hard to adapt and to adapt quickly. I think the three-meeting plan was a creative but ultimately short-sighted vision for getting the funding approved. The idea was that if we impeach those senators they wouldn’t be factored into quorum and then we could approve the funding then and there.”

The cabinet and senators did not move to impeach during the third meeting. Instead, they scheduled the Friday meeting and established a safety mechanism for automatically approving the budgets of all the USOs if SGA is unable to establish a quorum in the final meeting. The safety mechanism has no basis on the SGA constitution.

“In my opinion, it’s unlikely, if not nearly impossible, that it will actually happen,” said Joseph Khalaf, SGA vice president. “We have all information leading to believe that there will be quorum on Friday, and even if that doesn’t happen we’re working on solutions, like electronic voting, that don’t require quorum. These have been used in the past. Our main priority at this point is getting funding to USOs before the end of the semester.”

Despite the low possibility of being deployed, the safety mechanism would have noticeable effects on future funding requests.

“In terms of financial position it would not be good,” Khalaf said. “Obviously we might be overfunding USOs. Based on rough calculations that would leave $0 for registered student organizations.”

While senators refrained from advancing on their three-meeting impeachment plan, another impeachment route is circulating amongst Greek life members. 250 students have signed a petition to begin impeachment process for senators Luevanos, Fulkerson and Wendt. Alex Perkowski, also indicated on the petition, resigned from SGA this week.

“Removal from SGA office is a two-step process,” Khalaf wrote. “The first step of this process may be substituted by the submission of a petition signed by 250 students. After the petition is completed, the senate automatically has to vote on the removal of the officeholder. To be removed, a two-thirds vote of the senate is still required.”

Throughout this week cabinet members and senators have sought to assure the campus that SGA will achieve quorum on Friday. It is SGA’s last opportunity to deliberate on USO budgets.

“With a little bit of discussion, we realized we need to vote on the USO funding,” Tinker said. “It’s the last day of the semester and so that will happen. USO funding for all USOs, including Greek Council, will be voted on for sure.”

SGA meetings are open to the public. Students are encouraged to attend.