The ASPSU senate held their regularly scheduled weekly meeting Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. Before roll call was even conducted, five senators were removed from their posts.
The immediate conflict in the senate regarded the attendance of several senators. According to the senate bylaws, senators are allowed two unexcused absences from meetings. The walkout by senators during last Wednesday’s meeting counted as the first unexcused absence for several senators.
Today’s meeting started off with ASPSU vice president and senate head Dune Zhu reading from a letter written by Kelly Gabliks, Oregon’s Attorney General.
Zhu read the section detailing Friday’s special senate meeting, in which Gabliks stated that unexcused absences from the special meeting held on Friday counted towards senators’ attendance record. For several senators, missing that meeting was their second unexcused absence.
After reading the letter, Zhu stated senators Justice McPherson, Nathan Pawlicki, Shahriyar Smith, Michael-Sean Kelly and senate pro-tempore Josh Morris did not give him written notification about being absent for that meeting, and excused them all from the senate.
Morris attempted to read from the constitution in protest of the ruling, but was repeatedly cut off by Zhu.
“Those senators that have been excused, please wait in the lobby, the floor is closed to questions,” Zhu said.
“Zhu has spoken from up high,” Morris said as he gathered his belongings and left with the other excused senators.
“Dune Zhu was following the bylaws and facilitated the meeting. He respected the laws,” said Jesse Shapiro, ASPSU senator.
The action taken last night could fall under one of two conflicting governing documents, namely the senate bylaws and the constitution.
Under the bylaws, Article Five, Sub-section B states, “Missing 35 percent of the scheduled Senate meetings per term with an excused absence and/or any two meetings for unexcused reasons shall result in removal from the Senate.”
The bylaws do not specify what person or body is authorized to take that action or how the senators should be removed.
Article Nine, Section Two of the ASPSU constitution states, “Non-fulfillment of duties as specified in this Constitution or in any constitutional job description, policy, or guideline for a period of greater then three weeks, except during times the University is not in session, must be considered a vacancy of office, elected or appointed, under this Constitution. Questions of non-fulfillment of duties shall be referred to the E&CR [Evaluation and Constitutional Review, ASPSU’s judicial branch] for declaration of vacancy.”
“I’m rather new to the E&CR,” said Amara Marino, E&CR member, “but it’s my understanding that from here we declare vacancies for those senate positions.”
“A minority in a democratically elected body has dictated the course of action in the senate,” Shariyar Smith, an excused ASPSU senator, said after the meeting.
When asked whether or not the excused senators could be reinstated, Shapiro said, “The issue could be put on the agenda, then approved and voted on.”
Some senators mentioned that they would, in fact, be willing to hear arguments in favor of letting those senators back in.
“If they said that they wouldn’t break quorum, break due process, and allow Zhu to do things then I’d be willing to listen,” Shapiro said.
“We’ve talked a little bit about a special meeting regarding this specific event,” Dimitrius Desyllas, ASPSU senator, said.
By 6:45 p.m., the senate was moving on to its agenda business.
Laura Campos was voted in as the newest senate member. Both the ROTC proposal to allow military recruiters on campus and the Shattuck Hall flagpole relocation, were put off until more information could be collected.