Petition claims violations by student senate

A new petition sent Monday to the Illinois Student Senate demanding external review of a meeting has sparked controversy among student senators.

The petition charges that the senate was in violation of state law and the senate’s internal rules during its first meeting of the academic year, which was held Aug. 29. According to the petition, the senate ignored the terms of the Open Meetings Act by not making their agenda available to the public and that it did not adhere to its anti-discrimination policy during the election of the vice president-internal. The petition requests the review of the College of Law Moot Court Bench, which serves as the senate’s judiciary.

Max Ellithorpe, senator and graduate student, wrote the petition. He said the act requires materials to be published 48 hours in advance of a meeting in order to encourage “transparency and public access.” He said he brought up the issue during the meeting but was ignored.

“The judiciary needs to know about it,” he said. “We need to know if the senate breached the constitution, if the meeting was out of order and if the meeting should be held invalid.”

Jim Maskeri, senator and senior in LAS, said he thinks the petition is a waste of time.

“The majority of student senators are in it for the right reasons,” he said. “However, there are some that would rather impede the process and flow of discussion for their own individual enjoyment.”

While Maskeri said the complaint may be valid, there are arguments against the Ellithorpe’s petition.

“I don’t think this is something ISS and the judiciary should be spending their time on, trying to invalidate a meeting, while we should be tackling the Academic Integrity Policy, the RSO handbook and other things that affect students,” Maskeri said.

Brock Gebhardt, student body president, said the agenda is always finalized 48 hours in advance of the general meeting, during the executive meetings, which take place every Sunday and are open to the public.

“Sometimes we have documents forwarded to us late and so as to not confuse the new senators, we decided to wait with the information,” he said.

The proposal has been transmitted to an assistant dean in the College of Law, and Gebhardt has asked the judiciary to speed up the process so ISS can have the results within the next two weeks.

The petition also states that Carey Hawkins-Ash, senator and graduate student, was discriminated against during the Q-and-A portion of his nomination speech. Hawkins-Ash was questioned on his age, while the other candidate, an undergraduate student, was not.

“I think we’re going down a dangerous line if we are going to compare candidates based on age,” Ellithorpe said. “It’s not acceptable.”

If the meeting is found invalid by the judiciary, ISS may have to repeat the election for the vice president-internal.

_Corinne can be reached at [email protected]_