Why SGA's president was not impeached
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 02:10
After a tumultuous period of spending scandals and the near-impeachment of our student body president, all has quieted down on the Student Government Association front. As the dust settles on the debacle, it’s important to examine exactly what went on, why and what we as students should do about it.
SGA President Ramiro Jaime, Jr., made a number of questionable decisions. He bought polo shirts for SGA without asking the Senate, he hired a personal assistant without consulting the Senate, and he tried to give himself and the vice-president a pay raise and cut the other executive board members’ salaries. This made the Senate understandably upset, which resulted in a number of members filing charges to impeach him.
Jaime isn’t the only problem with our student government. There was a thirst on the opposition side for his blood that probably prompted some of the quick, thoughtless reactions on both Jaime’s and the Senate’s part. SGA adviser and Dean of Students John Yarabeck does a good job of making the organization slow down and think, something that is much needed compared to the last five years.
Sometimes other administrators can cause unneeded and unfair problems. Chief Justice of the SGA Supreme Court Frank Parker overturned a last-ditch – and seemingly desperate – attempt to remove Jaime from the position immediately. A presidential impeachment or removal is an incredibly important ordeal that the Senate seemed to try and rush without giving Jaime much of a chance to defend himself.
However, several red flags were waived. Jaime works for Parker in the Office of Student Services, which makes Parker’s decision not to recuse himself questionable at minimum. In addition, Parker promised to pay Ramiro’s assistant if their budget reached a zero balance, which further shows Parker’s leanings on the case before the Constitution is ever opened.
Needless to say, this stinks of nepotism and foul play. While this event is a glaring sore on the face of our student government, the festering wound on student democracy goes deeper than even this event shows. This isn’t the story of how one SGA president avoided being usurped, but a story of how an administrator in the SGA Supreme Court is influencing a body which is meant to represent student views.
In his tenure working with the SGA, Parker has been investigated by the Senate for intimidating other justices, and he has closed meetings that were supposed to be open to the public.
In 2011, Parker’s appointment was nearly rescinded after ruling certain SGA laws “just weren’t good policy” and were unconstitutionally vague. Instead it was his own opinion of what was and what not good policy was. In the most recent SGA court decision, there actually hasn’t been a written decision other than a summary judgment that said it was unconstitutional and that SGA should behave – although the latter we and Parker have in common. But collegiality seemed to be more important to the court than what was and wasn’t legal. It, in actuality, became a shaming exhibition that was probably needed, but definitely beyond their scope as justices.
This isn’t to say that Parker is the only voice on the court. There are eight other justices that voted unanimously in the most recent decision. This also isn’t to say that there ruling was entirely wrong. But we’d like to see more from the court than the vagueness that Parker hates so much.
We aren’t necessarily advocating for Parker or Jaime’s removal. We aren’t asking for every Senator to be voted out. Just for commonsense to prevail in the way the three branches treat each other. Parker, Jaime and the Senate have all behaved improperly for people in their positions, but they’ve also done some good for the students. SGA is continuing its work on “All Paws In,” enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act and generally attempting to look after student welfare.
However, despite the scandal, apparent nepotism and inefficiency, SGA has seemingly picked itself up and moved on from the incident. Let’s hope they keep it up.