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April 7 Student Government Meeting Declared Void

By Sean Foss, Dakota Student Staff Writer

Source: Dakota Student, April 22, 2002

In a 6 -1 decision on Thursday the UND Student Government Judicial Board upheld a complaint filed by Student Senator Ross Adams, ruling that all actions taken by UND's 2001-2002 Student Government after April 1 should be invalidated.

Arguing against Adams' complaint was former Student Body President Matt Brown. Both he and Adams were given 30 minutes to argue their cases. The complaint was based on Article V, section C of the UND Student Senate Constitution, which states, "The term of office for the President, Vice President, and all Student Senators shall be for one year, from March 15 to March 14, or until election results have been verified, in any case, the term of office shall begin no later than April 1."

Adams argued that the Student Senate meeting held on Sunday April 7 was illegal, citing that, according to the constitution, the participant's terms had already expired.

"We are asserting that the UND Student Government constitution was violated when former Senate and executive branch members held a meeting on the night of April 7," Adams said. "Officially, the new president took office and all actions taken should be reversed."

Adams said that he takes partial blame for allowing the meeting to be held in the first place. He said that although he has read the constitution several times, it wasn't until approximately a week after the April 7 meeting that he realized the error.

The judicial branch asked Adams if he had ulterior motives for filing the complaint or whether he simply wanted to follow the constitution. Adams replied by stating his opinion has nothing to do with the case.

"I voted yes on some things and no on others that night," Adams said. "It doesn't matter what I feel, the constitution is very clear."

Adams argued that each bill passed on April 7 should have to be re-debated and voted upon. However, former Student Body President Matt Brown argued for a much different outcome in his 30 minutes. In that time, Brown fully accepted the blame for what happened, as it was his team of executives that set the schedule for the year in Sept. 2001. He also said he knew that the constitution states that new officials should take their rightful place by April 1, but that precedents from previous years dictated his decision.

"What we did was not merely say 'Let's violate the constitution;' we followed the precedent set before us and did what was best for the students at the time," Brown said.

As proof of that precedent, Brown noted that five out of the last 12 transitions from one elected term to another have occurred after April 1, just like this years. Also, he pointed to Article V Section C of the constitution as something that is designed to be a guide for Student Government, not a direct schedule.

"If you look at the constitution, it says that a term should start on March 15 and end on March 14. That has never happened," Brown said.

He said that if the judicial board deemed the April 7 meeting unconstitutional and void, the board would have to go further back and reverse other actions, such as the Cab Crawler program, because it was approved after April 1 in its respective session.

After over an hour of deliberation, the justices returned their verdict that the April 7 Student Senate meeting is now void, but at the same time, actions that have been taken due to voting that night, including Wellness Center issues, cannot be reversed.

Last updated:  @ 9:05 AM CDT