Updated on April 14, 2016 at 8:35 p.m.
Ohio University Student Senate voted to impeach a senator and passed legislation making its Rules and Procedures gender neutral during a meeting Wednesday night.
Senate unanimously voted to impeach uFund Senator At-Large Lorne Owens during a 50 minute executive session. He was impeached due to attendance issues, according to President Gabby Bacha, Parliamentarian Landen Lama and Conduct and Discipline Chairwoman Saira Brown.
Brown is barred from serving on Senate for a year, according to Senate Rules and Procedures.
Owens, a senior, ran on the TIME ticket last year as its treasurer candidate before the ticket dissolved. Bacha and Lama said they were sad to impeach him but that the committee had been trying to contact him on the attendance issues since January.
“He’s a great student leader; he’s involved in a lot. I think that’s just what contributed to this,” Bacha said after the meeting. “Things happen.”
Owens said via email that because he had a job commitment, he was unable to attend Senate meetings. He says that he still contributed to the uFund commission.
“I did not feel as though my contributions and constant dedication to my commission should be denied because of the General Body meeting absences,” Owens said. “It is a shame that it had to come this. If there was real concern about my attendance there, I would have received assistance when my countless attempts to reach out to the executives were brushed off.”
An unnamed senator was voted on for impeachment during the executive session for attendance issues as well, which led to 24 Senate members voting for the impeachment and nine voting against it, with six abstentions. This missed the two-thirds required vote to pass the resolution.
Senate also passed a resolution to make the Senate Rules and Procedures gender neutral. The “Resolution to Make the Student Senate Rules and Procedures Gender Neutral” updated the rules to remove any instances where a position favors one gender, such as replacing the term “chairman” with “chairperson.” The resolution also changes grammatical errors in the Rules and Procedures.
Committee on Rules and Procedures Chairman Landen Lama said this resolution is a move toward inclusivity of all genders in Senate. He also said in some instances, the document used masculine terms to define positions that could be held by a person of any gender identification.
“I wanted to make the Senate feel more inclusive,” Lama said. “It makes our document seem more open. A person that identifies in (the LGBT) community might read our document and say that it’s masculine.”
Senate also heard an update from Treasurer and President-elect Hannah Clouser on the possibility of changing the Bobcat Readership Program to include a USA Today app.
If enacted, the program would reduce the number of physical copies of USA Today and introduce a free mobile app that curates both national news from the publication and campus news from local news outlets.
The app would cost around the same amount of money yearly as the physical copies, which run at around $12,000, according to Clouser. She also said that outlets like The New Political, The Post and The Athens News would receive offers to be in the program.
While most senators were in support of it, along with a large majority of voters in a Twitter poll, there was some concern as to whether the app could be promoted enough to be effective toward students.
“A worry I would have to switching to an app versus being out there physically where people can go into the library and see it there, is that people wouldn’t know about the app,” Praelo Zandonadi, a Senate member, said during the meeting. “My question is if there is a program in place or a plan or campaign to make this out there and as physical as possible it actually does keep on encouraging people to read and know more about the news versus just it becoming yet another app that Bobcats don’t know exist.”
Senate will vote on the issue during its next and last meeting of the academic year.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original format to include Owens’ comments and to correct a previous issue that stated that the Committee on Rules and Procedures made the final decision on the impeachment resolution, not Senate itself.