SA Senate overrides presidential veto ahead of Student Court hearing

Media Credit: Serena Lum | Photographer

Pino, the sponsor of the legislation, said overriding the veto allowed the SA to avoid a "procedural mess."

The Student Association Senate overrode SA President Brandon Hill’s veto on a bill that would implement first-year seats if approved by the student body through a referendum this fall, marking the first override of the senate’s term.

The senate voted 30-4 Monday with one abstention to overturn Hill’s veto on legislation the senate passed last month to update the bylaws to codify the potential first-year senate seats. The Student Court will hold a hearing Sunday about a complaint from the SA Office of the Legislator General challenging the referendum’s constitutionality.

SA Sen. Chris Pino, CCAS-U and the bill‘s sponsor, said he voted to override the veto because if it was sustained, the SA could not start the election process for first-year seats. If passed, the referendum would amend the SA’s constitution but would not automatically update the organization’s bylaws to include provisions for the new seats.

“This is kind of a no brainer – we approved this with unanimous consent,” Pino said at the meeting. “Everybody therefore voted in favor of it, or nobody voted in opposition to it. Voting against it would just kind of create a procedural mess. That’s why you really need to just override the veto.”

Hill declined to comment on the overturned veto.

The legislator general’s office sued Pino, Vice President Kate Carpenter and Sen. Cordelia Scales, SEAS-U and senate chairperson pro tempore. Justices denied two motions from Pino to dismiss the complaint and seal part of his accompanying argument.

SA Sen. Nicholas Pradhan, SMHS-G, said he voted against the override because the debate was “frivolous,” and the senate should focus on different matters of students’ interest, like safety, diversity and inclusion instead of lawsuits.

“Let’s move on and work on more pressing matters, like changing the dean’s list GPA or addressing issues of safety, diversity and inclusion on this campus,” Pradhan said. “We all have better things to do.”

Carpenter said in her regular vice presidential report that the SA is now collaborating with the University on District Connections, a program launched in 2019 to help students explore the surrounding city. She said the SA will step in to fill gaps in the program, and senators will volunteer to take students on excursions around D.C. this semester, including trips to Eastern Market and local performances.

“It’s taking first-, second-, third-years to Eastern Market, it’s taking them to free concerts, to comedy shows, and really giving that place for people on campus to bond, find the community and get off Foggy Bottom,” Carpenter said.

The senate also unanimously confirmed three students to the executive cabinet. Senators confirmed senior Sophie Waseem as the assistant secretary for commuter student affairs, freshman Rami Hanash as the assistant secretary for athletics and freshman Sabrina Causley as the assistant director of social media.

The senate also unanimously confirmed freshman Ishani Patel as the senate’s deputy communications director and sophomore Luc-Saint Genies and SA Sen. Athena Atsides-Del Valle, U-at-Large, to serve on the Financial Aid Advisory Council, which provides a student perspective on GW’s financial aid policies.

Lauren Sforza contributed reporting.

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