Session of February 28th, 2021
February 28, 2021 – Emergency Meeting
Minutes Recorded by: McKenzie Craycraft, Secretary
Call to Order at 4:08 pm
Senator Gregory prays & shares James 3
PPT LaQuey: I have posted an agenda on the discord; we are going to come to special business, and we are going to set a time of adjournment. I highly recommend that we set a reasonable time. Special debate rules are on the screen, you can speak for five minutes. Only six people can speak on the sides of the issue. This is common practice. Have fun. Take this with a light heart. Any questions?
Senator Avent: What about the swearing in of new senators?
PPT LaQuey: That is an interesting issue. The other issue is we have another senator who is not here to swear in and I do not know if y’all know the issues. We value your input, but I do not think we should swear you in on this issue, what are your thoughts?
Citizen Hofer: We have different opinions.
PPT LaQuey: You can motion to have someone swear you in.
Senator Dittman: GoPro, debate is done, chapel slides are sent, chapel Tuesday is the last thing. It is first come first serve.
PPT LaQuey: Elections chapel 11:00 on Tuesday.
PPT LaQuey: I move to set the time of adjournment no later than 5:30 pm.
VP Murphy: I will give you a warning at 5:15 pm.
Senator Bright: Do we need to end the debate session before 5:30 to reach a vote?
PPT LaQuey: Yes
Senator Bright: Do we need to say that time?
PPT LaQuey: No
Senator Willis: I recommend during the debate process that we alternate between sides.
Senator Avent: Motion to swear in the new senators.
Senator Willis: I would argue they should be sworn in, they will understand the argument before the vote.
Senator Edwards: Some of them don’t know all the information.
Senator Moore: I would argue against it since we only have an hour and eight minutes, we will spend a lot of time on this.
Chairman Willis: Point of order please stand to speak.
Senator Crowder: During the debate process, it goes back and forth between senators, can citizens be able to speak? That way we can postpone the swearing in, but they will still have a voice.
PPT LaQuey: Point of information, we can just decide to have this in open forum or special busines.
Senator Anderson: It would be my recommendation that we hold it in open forum and postpone swearing in the new senators.
Srgt Edwards: I would like to bring this to a vote
Senator Bright: I move to divide the question
VP Murphy: First motion all in favor of swearing in the senators in the next session.
VP Murphy: They will be sworn in in the next session. The debate happens in open forum
Senator Willis: I motion to have we alternate between sides of the issue at hand
Chairman Willis: Point of order, the special debate guidelines.
Senator Anderson: The question at hand is to invoke the 2/3 majority required to allow a write in candidate onto the ballot. That does not alleviate the regular requirements that a normal candidate must have all necessary signatures. This is according to article 5 section D bylaws.
VP Murphy: I am guessing along the way, the question at hand is that chairman Willis is going through the process of running to be student body president and has brought up a motion to figure out how to move forward in a situation when there have been a lot of questions on what has happened. Point of clarification from senator Anderson, the 2/3 rule on sente is to overturn a decision make in the interview process. If they are a write in candidate, is it their responsibility to come up with the votes. If they are unable to get enough votes it is the job of GoPro to decide. Is this a petition to overthrow a decision or to evaluate write in candidacy? If they do not do different things, please clarify if this is a petition to over through a decision or to evaluate a write in candidates. Was this a technical error or should this be flipped on its head? For the record, as the person who is the direct contact between the GoPro and Steve Conn, when it came to creating the forms, I messed up the forms. When I was made aware that Gabe Willis was attempting write in candidate, I was communicating how to write the dynamic form and how it must be sent out, because a write in hasn’t been done before, I did not fact check it. If it was a normal year, the three official candidates and any write ins would have got the same form, but with different numbers. because of it going it digital and my bad of not doing a thorough check, Gabe Willis did not get a dynamic form like he should have. On the public record, I would like to apologize for not doing my best there. I am very sorry for the chaos that is has caused, but it is out of my hands. We need to have respect and trust between the student body, and this was out of my hands. I would like to say that I am sorry.
Srgt. Edwards: I speak on the platform of pro-Willis, I will admit that I am new to this, I have learned that our job is to represent the student body and to clarify communication and I have yet to speak to anyone who believes that job is being done. If we think that the write in format was done incorrectly then we need to let the students get a choice.
Senator Eaton: Question about overturning the decision, would this make him an official candidate or something else?
VP Murphy: The position to overturn the decision would mean that interview committee would be overturned and make Gabe an official candidate. Overturning means they still would need to collect signatures. It becomes a nightmare when you think that the deadline has already passed.
PPT LaQuey: The issue is whether we should or should not take the vote to overthrow the decision of the committee, it could mean that he would have to provide signatures from at least 30% of the student body before 11:00 Monday.
VP Murphy: If they are overthrowing, they still have to collect from 25% and cannot enter a phase before any of the candidates but have to end at the same time. The written in have 30% and 24 hours.
PPT LaQuey: We have the 2/3 majority, and he still has to collect 25%.
VP Murphy: Correct
PPT LaQuey: Should we overturn, there are several points. The main points were that the processes not followed fairly. The issue is that Willis did not receive the correct form, it has taken us a week to figure that out. The follow up question is to deice if this is our job to correct this mistake. The first option is to collect signatures of 30% so we would not have to use 2/3 majority. Senate can vote 2/3 or Willis can collect 30% of signatures. The correct answer is to let the signature process work. Willis has run a good campaign. Two years ago, Collin Paterson asked me to run for VP. I did not have the required amount of experience. It would have required senate to overrun the bylaws. I decided not to run. If we made a decision it could affect my ability to lead well. We do not need a question of legitimacy. There are questions in that, does the burden of proof to say we goofed so we need to decide, or does it lay on Willis to say he has overcome this. I think we should go to the higher standard. It makes it so there is no question. I do not think senate should invoke the 2/3 rule even with the lack of fairness. The increase the challenge and ensures Willis’ legitimacy.
VP Murphy: Point of clarification, Senator Willis are you overturning the interview decision or are you being a write in candidate?
PPT LaQuey: The signatures count for both?
VP Murphy: They do but they all follow different timelines.
Chairman Willis: Could you restate the question?
VP Murphy: Are you purposing to overturn the interview or tying to be a write in candidate?
Chairman Willis: Can you show us the portion of the constitution you are talking about? I noticed that one says 1/3 of the student body or 33%.
VP Murphy: That is why I am asking which it is?
Chairman Willis: I am choosing to be a write in candidate
Senator Avent: In the case that he is choosing to be a write in it appears senate does not have any part to play in the process.
VP Murphy: The only part senate plays is that if 24 hours before voting begins, if you do not meet the signature requirements GoPro can decided if you are able to run.
Chairman Willis: As you stated earlier, it has been confusing that the amendment has not added to the constitution. I was unaware of this previous amendment. To be honest I am not sure. I am sorry that doesn’t clarify the issue.
PPT LaQuey: The question we need to ask is, chairman Willis, are you restricted to the process in the amendment because you were interviewed, or is this an either-or situation? Your only appeal process to go through is the 1/3 majority or you can go through the write in process.
Senator Avent: It appears that this is an either or, going back to the interview, it appears that there may be a requirement of collecting 25%, that is the same deadline which would have been Friday, chairman Willis, if we voted to overturn that decision would it matter, have you collected 25% by midnight on Friday?
Chairman Willis: I was around 290 signatures at that time.
Senator Eaton: If we do allow him to write in, could we provide him with the same dynamic form?
PPT LaQuey: GoPro?
Senator Dittman: I think Gabe was able to go through the interviews and was able to have 2/3 majority, he could do the overturning but the write in does not have the interview. We cannot do both. Are you a write in candidate, senate can overturn it and you can use your signatures, or do you stick to your write in, and senate has no ties behind it? We do not have power to allow write in candidates, we don’t have jurisdiction to allow that.
Chairman Willis: I apologize for the confusion, when I informed the GoPro that I would be a write in, I was informed that I would need 1/3 not 30%, I would like some clarification on that.
PPT LaQuey: In practice we have been acting as if chairman Willis is attempting to overturn the interview decision. We have been acting along that assumption to collect 400 instead of 30%, in practice chairman Willis, he is not in the case of the write in candidate. The best evidence is that he interviewed. In practice we have recognized the second option not the write in
Citizen Rubingh: Is there a clause that allows the GoPro to bypass the signature for the actual candidate?
VP Murphy: GoPro can determine the cadency of the signature requirements that goes through. When it comes to this amendment the position is because an individual interviews and is not selected then they are not a candidate. A petition is a student-initiated process. They have decided how to collect the signatures.
Senator Eaton: We are not an option to give him more tools?
VP Murphy: Write in candidates cannot began a phase before anyone else.
PPT LaQuey: The idea behind the write in is that they do not go through a write-in and collect 30%, they are not allowed to participate in any events, the deadline is not any later. It is a harder process. The second of overturning a decision is basically the same thing and the deadlines would not change. We need to clarify, was that last Saturday night or 11 tomorrow.
VP Murphy: They must turn it in within 24 hours of beginning. If he identifies himself as a write in, he is still in. The person who wrote them said he will not do it again. I asked Steve and he said no.
Senator Eaton: There are 3 different sets of signatures, there is a tradition candidate which is 25% by Friday night, for a candidate who was interviewed but denied, they have to have 1/3 of student body petition that is started by the student body, then there is a write in candidate that is 30% of the student body and a part of GoPro. What are the actual variables, how many votes is 25%?
VP Murphy: 25% is 300, 30% for write in candidate is 360, student initiate has to be 1/3 of student body or 400 signatures. As a few minutes ago, chairman Willis has exceeded the number of 300 deadlines, he does not have 360 or 400, based on what he is labeling himself.
PPT LaQuey: May I use the white board?
Senator Moore: So, if he met the one mark of the group, can we do anything for him?
VP Murphy: No none of them can do anything.
Senator Moore: Can we do anything then? Should we just let this die?
Senator Bright: It it true that 2/3 majority would be his 300 signatures?
Senator McClain: He was not there by Friday.
VP Murphy: How many signatures did you have by 11:59 Friday?
Senator Allen: Point of clarification, based on what he said if he did have 290 by Friday and we went through with the 2/3 majority would the GoPro be able to take those and determine if he can run?
VP Murphy: They can only do it based on signatures. If by 11:59 on Friday if senate were to overturn the process the number that he collected did not meet the 300 number, the only number people that could determine this is GoPro.
Chairman Willis: As a point of revision, Friday was the 26, I had 240 signatures by midnight.
Senator Avent: These number assume we have 1200 students. It says that they must be done 24 hours, voting does not end until 11:50. It appears that chairman Willis is not the 1/3 but since he said write in candidate status he has until 11:50.
Senator Moore: So again, even though, senate made a mistake, do we need integrity do we lose integrity if voted him in. He didn’t meet the votes, then he changed votes, I feel like we put senate in a bad spot.
VP Murphy: Yes, we are responsible. What the heck is this looking like for people who got through the interviews. Does this bother you?
Citizen Ryan: Gabriel Willis, does he have the write in process after being denied. That is my question can he select 360, and that is his only option left?
VP Murphy: There is no specific time frame he can claim which he is doing, but we will hold to what we claim.
PPT LaQuey: We have 3 categories of candidates, they have to meet a signature number, official candidates have 25%, they need to do so by Saturday night, if they do not hit the exact number, senate can decide, write in candidates must submit them by 24 hours ahead of time. Can senate do anything? I do no think we can push someone on the ballot by 2/3. There is a third process, you have to receive 400 signatures, the deadline of this isn’t clear, it can be done by 2/3 majority of senate. The question is did Gabriel Willis choose or is the deadline passed or can we overturn it?
VP Murphy: It is 5:15. We still need to come to a decision.
Citizen Rubingh: Mr. Willis was not given a fair chance; I think to give him a fair chance would be to overturn the interview process and leave it up to GoPro
Senator Gregory: Why was chairman Willis denied candidacy in the first place?
Senator Sabbatine: I do not mean to bypass the situation, I do want to point out some facts, yes this was true it was not done fairly, I do not think we should do a 2/3 votes, his ideas are similar to other candidates. I do feel like the other candidates have the same ideas, Willis is a sophomore, he can run again, the three candidates are all in their junior year. They will be senior. I’m not saying he cannot do it any better, I think the seniors should have a better go at it, I think we should have a change in the constitution, we just need to take our losses and come back next year stronger and better from it.
Chairman Willis: Point of information, I will I not be able to run next year, I will be gone for a semester my senior year, I have been treated as an interviewer, and override candidate and I will stay as.
Senator Avent: In disagreement with chairman Willis, since he requested write in candidacy, I think very soon should bring the interview overturn to a vote it will either pass or fail. This is instead of not voting. I would like to ask president Turner, three candidates were denied, how many people were on the committee?
President Turner: To clarify, it was myself, Kristi Morgan, Nathan Moyes, Steve Conn, it was unanimous for all of our decision. I would love to explain, it is a closed-door interview and I feel uncomfortable releasing that information.
Senator Moyes: Reminder, I was there as an observer I left before the vote was taken. It was four people. It was committee chair, current president, dean of student, and VP of student affairs.
PPT LaQuey: The two questions, the deadline, does he have to meet the same deadline, if this is the same deadline, it is okay that he still has until chapel Monday, we need to vote on the 2/3.
Chairman Willis: I motion to extend the time of discussion to 5:45.
Senator Anderson: I call for a division of the house
All in favor: 13
All against: 4
Senator McClain: Now that we have determined that he is an interview overturn, and we vote on him as a candidate, will there still be a signature count?
VP Murphy: If senate were to override by 2/3, he becomes an official candidate, what he did counts, but he would jump to this timeline.
Senator McClain: He did not reach of the number.
Senator Anderson: I had prepared a speech, but I was misinformed on some point, I will change my position because I do not think this is a matter that should be left up to a committee. I do believe this is a little tricky and legislative at that point.
Citizen Hofer: I would like to say Gabe has a lot of signatures he is still running, they are not forcing that down anyone’s throats, we are not forcing this on anyone we are letting them choose themselves, a fair number of students want to see him run, he was robbed of the ability to get the signatures.
VP Murphy: Because you have identified as such, you have chosen to be an interview turnover, you must go by student initiative. GoPro would have to process things; you were not robbed out of your form.
Senator Gregory: If we do indeed do 2/3 that we are setting a prescient that if we agree with a certain candidate, we will help them run, it looks suspicion we are saying we will push you onto the ballot, do we want to set that precedent?
Senator Willis: Arguing for pro Willis, I would like to say if we do not overturn GoPro and let them decide, we would be setting a much worse precedent. The other Mr. Willis was not given a fair voting, the other approved candidates were given 2 heavy advantages, he was not given the same packets, secondly rather than letting the student manually were give a campus wide email and that insured their signatures, and a second email was set out, when 2 of the approved candidates got enough signatures in a normal election process, if we allow this process, we are saying that he was put at a disadvantages.
VP Murphy: Point of information, this is why I clarified this point, you are a precious human being, you were not maliciously disadvantaged, that second email, I wrote that you would see I induced Mr. Willis in that as well. And where you would need to go to vote for him. It was not a boost for everyone else and not for him.
Chairman Willis: I think this highlights another difficulty, yes, I am not, and I have been half of both, I think this is why this process exists. That is why we do this, covid season is crazy, virtual signings are not meant to be a thing, it would be best to give it to the people.
Senator Gonzalez: I want to remind you that you are here to represent your floors, like chairman Willis said this isn't just about getting Gabriel Willis on the ballot, we should be leaving any final decision to the people. Allowing more candidates will not suppress the vote.
Senator Dittman: If he gets the 2/3 votes, he becomes a candidate, which means his deadline would be February 24, that will only get him 238 and not the 300. That makes it fall into GoPro’s hand. Even though we are taking that into consideration he did it in his own form it would be hard to decide that.
Senator Moore: The people already had their chance; it is unfair representation. I like Gabe as a person and a candidate, but I cannot say all of the 4th floor of Tyler is on it. People already had their time to represent themselves.
Senator Allen: Due to the nature of covid, it was more difficult to have student initiative, it is unknown if he would have reached it. I am still on the fence I want to support 3B that have said they want Gabe on the ballot, it is unsure and still leaves it up to GoPro.
Citizen: I think there is a disillusion, I do not have free choice of who I vote for. By allowing Gabe, you are allowing him to run and allowing the student body to vote.
Senator Avent: I motion that we close this debate
PPT LaQuey: I motion to vote by roll call
Senator McClain: You can still write in a person
Senator Anderson: I have a point of information, if we vote yes, it does not put him on the ballot, it would be more reflect of my floor to let this go naturally.
VP Murphy: First motion
VP Murphy: Motion to vote by roll call
13 to 8, there is not a 2/3 vote, Gabriel Willis is not an official candidate
Meeting Adjourned at 5:50 PM