SA president vetoes bill amending senate elections after executive office sues senators

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor

Hill said at the senate meeting that he was opposed to the referenda because of concerns over low turnout during potential fall elections.

Student Association President Brandon Hill vetoed a bill Thursday that would codify two referenda into the SA’s bylaws if they are approved by the student body.

The SA Senate approved scheduling the two referenda at a meeting earlier this month to ask students if the SA should create and hold elections for first-year senate seats each fall and if the SA should implement a plurality voting system for senate races with multiple seats instead of ranked choice voting. Hill said in a statement to SA Sen. Cordelia Scales, SEAS-U and senate chairperson pro-tempore, that he vetoed the Fall Senate Elections Act because it “disregards” the SA’s governing documents and would give unequal representation to first-year students in the senate.

Hill said at the senate meeting that he was opposed to the referenda because of concerns over low turnout during potential fall elections.

The SA’s Office of the Legislator General filed a complaint against the first-year senators resolution with the Student Court last week, arguing it grants disproportionate representation to first-year students. The court issued a preliminary injunction this week to block the SA’s special elections committee from establishing any referenda until Monday while the justices decide whether the complaint warrants further action.

Hill said in the statement that he will continue to advocate for “equal and equitable” representation for all students. He said he will continue to collaborate with the senate to represent the University, but he opposes the legislation.

“Any effort to correct injustices of inequitable representation must be within governing doctrines; the Act does not satisfy these standards,” Hill said.

The senate can override a presidential veto with at least a two-thirds vote, according to the SA constitution. The senate previously passed the legislation by unanimous consent, signaling the veto could be overridden if no votes change.

Hill said at the senate meeting earlier this month that he opposed holding any fall referendum, saying that more students should be involved with changing the constitution rather than just those who would choose to vote in the referenda.

“As we all continue to navigate the COVID-19 public health crisis and, more recently, ongoing environmental concerns on campus, now is not the right time to call for a referendum,” Hill said in the veto message. “Given the already low turnout for referenda, we should seek to hear the voices of all students, not just a select few.”

Hill did not return a request for comment.

SA Sen. Chris Pino, CCAS-U and the sponsor of the legislation that Hill vetoed, said Hill’s veto is “disappointing” and unnecessary because the bill only goes into effect if the student body approves the referenda. He said he expects the senate to override the veto at its next meeting.

“The bill doesn’t go into effect unless the fall referenda are approved by the student body, so the president’s veto does nothing but try to handicap a student body mandate from going into effect,” Pino said.

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