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Special committee proposes judicial panel for Student Senate

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Student Senate discussed a proposed plan Wednesday for a judicial panel to remove the threat of potentially heavy executive bias in appointments and impeachments by separating the final decision from Senate executive control.  

“Right now it’s up to Senate to enforce the rules however they want,” said Brian Stover, College of Business senator. “With a judicial panel, there are check and balances. No one person has too much control.”

Currently, impeachment trials are held by individuals who may hold bias, and there is a potential for extreme change in Senate’s effectiveness each year, depending on how each new body interprets the rules, the Special Committee for Senate Reform explained in their presentation.

The proposed judicial panel would serve of the Board of Elections during any senate election. Ten positions will be created: a chief justice, executive justice, seven associate justices and a clerk of court. The chief justice will be appointed by the senate executives and approved by a three-quarter majority.

“The Rules and Procedures committee within Senate will no longer have to exist,” treasurer Hannah Clouser said. “It’s not that their roles will no longer exist, rather, they’ll be moved into other positions entirely.”

The proposed impeachment plan will involve a referral from a student, followed by a decision on whether the referral has merit. If yes, an investigation will commence and lead to a decision on whether or not there is sufficient evidence. In the case of sufficient evidence, the judicial board will call for a trial and reach a final impeachment decision.

The new appeals process will progress from an appeal request to a trial within senate, cases presented, a discussion and finally a senate vote and final decision.

“We met every week as a committee to discuss the research that we had done in prospective areas of change and slowly narrowed down the process to adding just the judicial branch rather than recreating Senate altogether,” SAC vice commissioner Ellenore Holbrook said.

After the presentation concluded, some student senators were still concerned that bias would impede the political process of the new board, which the special committee for student reform was quick to address.

“If ‘x’ person is chosen as chief justice and they want all of their unqualified best friends to sit with them on the judicial board, the senate advisor will still be available to direct them,” College of Health Sciences and Professions senator Courteney Muhl said. “If for some reason there was a biased appointment, the Senate would have to approve it with a two-thirds majority.”

The senate will put the judicial panel proposal to a vote during next week’s meeting after an hour-long debate.

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