78° San Marcos
The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Senate members protest Student Government Consitution referendum, appeal board’s decision twice

Student+Government+Vice+President+Tucker+Thompson+counts+those+in+favor+of+a+bill+to+be+read+by+a+text-to-voice+bot%2C+Monday%2C+March+3%2C+2020%2C+in+the+LBJ+Teaching+Theater.

Student Government Vice President Tucker Thompson counts those in favor of a bill to be read by a text-to-voice bot, Monday, March 3, 2020, in the LBJ Teaching Theater.

Members of Student Government Senate have appealed the decision of the Referendum Review Board twice after submitting a complaint arguing the simple majority required for Student Government constitution was not met.
The constitution acquired 70.32% of the votes during the elections Feb. 20. Senate members Brittlin Richardson and Kelly Torpey said in accordance with the Policy and Procedure Statement for Student Affairs, a university policy for conducting student referendums, a “simple majority” of all the students who voted in the election must be met to be enacted.
Of the 1,501 students that voted in the election, 893 cast a vote for the constitutional referendum, with 628 voting in favor. According to Richardson and Torpey, the simple majority should be of the 1,501 students who voted and not of the 893.
“That was the direct language the (policy) used. It didn’t say a simple majority of the people voting for the constitution referendum it said ‘voting’ and that includes the voting of the election as well,” Torpey said.
The senators, who both voted no to the constitution in November, are now calling for a complete redo of the referendum vote.
After the complaint was reviewed, members of the board sent a letter to the senators stating their complaint carried no merit, unanimously agreeing the simple majority shall be interpreted as only those who voted for or against the referendum.
“After careful review, the board unanimously agreed that only the students who voted for or against the referendum shall be included in the results of the referendum… It is the opinion of the Referendum Review Board that the results announced for the referendum meet the requirements of the university policy and finds no merit in the complaint,” reads the letter.
The board cited the 2014 constitution referendum and 2016 LBJ student fee referendum, arguing the simple majority was interpreted the same way in both instances.
Upon being notified of the board’s decision, Richardson and Torpey submitted an appeal that included new information regarding Student Body President Corey Benbow and the Student Government’s failure to advertise the referendum vote.
Richardson and Tropey allege Benbow verbally communicated to them that no advertisements in print or electronic media were made to publicize the referendum, despite the SA/PPS stating advertisements must be made at least 10 days before the event.
The Senators included screenshots of conversations with full-time staffers of The University Star and student workers confirming that no advertisements from Student Government were run by the student run, independent newspaper in 2020.
In addition, the appeal states Student Government did not notify students of the election results through the university news service at least three days after the last day of voting as required by the SA/PPS.
Torpey said the disregard for formal rules and procedures has been a trend within the Student Government.
“Our biggest concern is that this does a disservice to students,” Torpey said. “Proper due process and procedures were not followed and that’s not acceptable especially with the way this administration has been doing a lot of things regarding this university and it just needs to stop.”
According to Benbow, the SA/PPS is primarily directed to administrators, not members of Student Government. Therefore, any responsibilities related to the advertisement of the referendum are that of the Dean of Students Office.
“The advertisement portions and those things that go along with the (policy) are on the administration to do, so I don’t take any fault or responsibility for those things,” Benbow said.
Benbow, who said he supports the senators’ appeal, did not sign the constitution. However, according to Benbow, he made the decision to sign the Student Senate Resolution required to send the constitution to a referendum after being advised to do so by the Dean of Students.
After the board reviewed the appeal, they agreed to uphold their original decision, citing the information Richardson and Torpey provided was “discoverable at the time the first appeal was submitted”, and that there was no reason why it was not submitted in the first appeal.
The board also said it believes canceling the referendum would be disruptive for future operations of student government.
In the letter sent to the senators, the board did not address a lack of publicity of the constitution referendum.
The senators have since submitted a second appeal, stating nowhere in the SA/PPS does it prohibit new or unknown information from being presented in an appeal. Additionally, the senators said it was unacceptable for Dean of Students to direct the president to sign any legislation.
“There’s no instance whatsoever when it’s okay for administration to direct the president to sign something he chose not to sign in the first place,” said Richardson.
With 1,501 overall participants, the election received a low voter turnout for a university with a population of nearly 40,000. More students voted in last year’s homecoming court, according to university records.
Despite their stance on the substance of the constitution, Richardson and Torpey said their vote has nothing to do with their current protest.
“This doesn’t stem from us not liking the constitution,” Richardson said. “I believe that if the simple majority of students had been met, I would have never submitted a protest.”

Donate to The University Star

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The University Star