[HAMMOND] After a month of various replies given for the allegations of improperly calling an executive sessions, SGA gave an official response on the meeting held on Feb. 13.
Luke Halloway, SGA president, made this statement:
“‘As you have already researched and stated in your article the Citizens’ Rights Policy states “Every senate and senate committee shall be open to the public, with the exception of the following:”
1. No quorum is present.
2. Executive sessions are called.
Executive Session was called on February 13, 2012 in discussion over the eligibility of Sigma Alpha Xi and their ability to qualify for a second grant. As you have stated in your article “Before the senate members voted on the grant, questions circulated concerning a proposal brought to the SGA last semester.”That question was allegations regarding the eligibility of an Organization applying for a Departmental Grant. The President of Sigma Alpha Xi had come before senate in the Fall 2011 requesting SGA funding on an Organizational Grant. The Executive session was to discuss the possible misconduct regarding an organization applying for more than the one grant per an academic year, which is designated in the regulations of receiving SGA Organizational Grants. As stated in the Citizen’s Rights Policy “investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct” is a legitimate reason to call executive session. So therefore executive session was called according to the Citizen’s Rights Policy. After executive session a vote was taken, and the departmental grant was given based on the fact the President was representing the Department rather than his individual group.'”
This statement is one of the various reasons given for the actions taken that day. Mary Gervais, SGA Vice President said in early February, “It was called to further discuss a questionable bill. I can’t comment on what happens in executive session, but the issue was resolved and the bill was passed.”
Brandon Summers, SGA President-Elect, also responded with a reason for the SGA’s actions. ”Last semester, that organization applied for an organizational grant. This time around you can see senate meetings move fast , so just to slow things down and make sure we’re on the same page we went into executive session to say, ‘Yes, they did get an organizational grant but they are applying for departmental grant now which is different ,so they can apply for both.’”
Rachel Bourgeois mentioned, “We follow Robert’s Rules of Order. The order for entering executive session is explained in Robert’s Rules of Order.” When asked to meet on the issue, she declined.
William Takewell, SGA Chief Justice, replied on what occurs in executive session. “Executive Sessions happen in the Senate (Legislative Branch) whenever there are things or topics that the senators need to get cleared up before entering into debate. No voting is supposed to occur in these executive sessions. Really, it is just an opportunity for the senators to get clarification. It is established in the standing rules of the SGA’s governing documents as a session that the meeting can go into. However, some people get confused and think that there is voting that goes on. If students wanted to have this changed, they could encourage their SGA members/senators to pass legislation that requires all discussion on anything to happen in open meeting with the public there.”
The SGA bylaws or Citizen’s Right’s card mentioned by Luke Halloway were not mentioned by the SGA officers when explaining the executive session in the past. When asked to clarify why the executive session was initiated, Gervais said, “We are governed by Southeastern’s laws. To my knowledge executive session can be called at any time.”