Tensions at SGA Meeting

Tension and confusion stirred tonight at the Student Government Association full senate meeting, as J. Mack Robinson College of Business senator Rion Field faced potential expulsion from the Senate.

Fields was already on probation for missing several SGA events, including the SGA Retreat last summer and previous SGA meetings. Although Fields did submit an e-mail outlining his absence during the summer for a Study Abroad trip, Executive Vice President Taylor Briggs deemed it as “unexcused” because Fields submitted it after the excused absence deadline.

According to Section 1.6 of Article I of the SGA constitution, “A voting member of the Senate is automatically suspended (probation) from office by failing to attend two unexcused Senate meetings.”

In addition to the absences, the appeal also included Fields’ failure to attend and actively serve in his assigned committees due to class conflict.

“We didn’t realize the buffer was not enough in between the committee and the end of his class.” said Briggs.

Fields was also “confused” about his assigned Vice President committee.

“I didn’t know the time the library committee would be meeting until I knew I was a part of the library committee,” said Fields.

According to Section 1.6B of Article I of the SGA constitution, Fields was required to “submit a written appeal to the President of the Senate at least five days before the next scheduled Senate meeting.”

It was also noted that Fields only attended one SGA event, which was taken into consideration.

Fields submitted an absence appeal for his probation, not knowing he needed to submit a separate formal appeal for the hearing.

“I thought it would be the same thing,” Fields said.

During deliberation for the expulsion of Fields’ position, several fellow Senators had differing opinions and thoughts about the hearing and Fields’ actions.

College of Arts and Sciences senator Jasmine Newson understood Fields’ confusion of the constitution and committee appointments. Newson even admitted that many of the senators may not have a complete understanding of the bylaws and constitution.

Newson also questioned the fact that this is the first time she had seen any senator face possible expulsion for unexcused absences.

“This has never happened,” said Newson during deliberation. “And people have missed a lot of meetings. If we’re going to start it now, then it should have always been.”

Briggs responded by stating, “It is everyone’s responsibility to read the constitution.”

Briggs made it evident that this year, she is enforcing a no tolerance policy.

“If you were driving without a license and you don’t know you need a license,” said Briggs. “You’re still going to get a ticket.”

College of Arts and Sciences senator Chad Cox said Fields should receive another chance to “recommit” to SGA, but agreed that “ignorance is not an excuse.”

In the midst of deliberation, several senators offered ways to ensure this would not happen again.

“If we communicate more about the constitution, the confusion will die down,” said J. Mack Robinson College of Business senator Marcus Riggs.

After an intense deliberation and voting, Fields was retained in SGA and will continue to be on probation. He must attend all meetings and cannot have any unexcused absences.

“It was hard for me to sit through this,” said SGA President Marcus Kernizan. “We each represent 1,000 students so when you’re not here, 1,000 students are not being heard.”