By Emily Rodriguez
The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities ruled a student’s petition to remove Andres Holliday, Student Government Association president, as unconstitutional.
Jenna Mata Bonilla, former College of Arts and Sciences senator, drafted paper and Facebook petitions to remove Holliday from office, citing multiple complaints ranging from failure to follow SGA’s constitution, mishandling of funds and insufficient performance.
Holliday has kept his position as president after running unopposed.
Internal conflict between the SGA president and his members over how SGA should be run became contentious enough this semester that Holliday sought help from the office of student rights to mediate during the first week of May.
Holliday filed a grievance against Bonilla two weeks ago with the office of student rights and responsibilities. The office handles grievances and student code of conduct violations.
“My problem is she knew that it was unconstitutional from the beginning and she still went around to classes and told students all this stuff,” Holliday said. “Students are finally getting to know that they have a student government. If students are barely finding out that and the first thing they hear is that the student body president is using the money selfishly or whatever else she said, it really affects our view.”
In the incident report Holliday filed with the office of student rights and responsibilities, he claimed that “Bonilla is well aware of all SGA statutes and understands that this petition she is administering is not valid. Furthermore, it is clear that she is using this petition as an opportunity to slander my name to as many students as possible.”
In a May 2 email acquired by The Mesquite, student conduct officer Maximo Z. Anguiano stated university administration reviewed the petition listed in Holliday’s grievance and it “has been deemed unconstitutional.”
The email also says that Bonilla received notification. “While offices are sympathetic with regards to the issued(sic) outlined in the complaint, the student noted has not broken any University policies.”
Bonilla obtained 85 signatures until Melissa Mahan, vice president for student affairs, and SGA adviser Jo Anna Franke, assistant vice president for student engagement and success, told her that she would not have enough signatures before the end of the fifth session.
SGA actively meets and passes legislation during sessions. SGA held their first senate meeting of the sixth session May 2.
Sessions begin with the first senate meeting of the fall semester and end on the last meeting of the spring semester when the newly elected are sworn in.
Neither the SGA constitution or bylaws lay out a way to remove a member by petition. To do so, members must go through the impeachment process.
Article four of the SGA constitution states to impeach a member, an adviser must receive a petition listing the member’s name, a statement of the offense, signatures from one-third of student members, and an evaluation sheet of the member in question.
Once submitted, the adviser must meet with the member to explain the charges in which they have two weeks to comply with the grievances listed in the petition.
The internal conflict over the removal petition was factor in the resignation of senator pro tempore Krystal Kirk.
In an April 25 email obtained by The Mesquite, Kirk wrote to Holliday, SGA adviser Cheryl Le Gras and Franke, claiming that senators are trying to “bully the executive board and mainly Andres (Holliday) who has done nothing wrong.”
During the spring semester, Bonilla faced removal from her position for lack of attendance and participation. She became ineligible to continue her run for vice president after she was placed on disciplinary probation for submitting a false document for a volunteer event.
She denies the accusation stating that she did attend the event and had the document signed by an event official. The official can neither confirm or deny Bonilla’s attendance.
On May 2, during the first senate meeting of the sixth session, Holliday proposed the addition of a judicial branch to SGA to handle internal issues and interpretations of the constitution.
Karissa Stigall was appointed as chief justice and Hoyt Garner was appointed as a justice of the new branch.
Newly elected vice president Silvia Soto said she unaware of a proposal of a judicial branch. Soto arrived late to the senate meeting Friday and was unable learn of the measure and give an opinion on the matter.
Soto said she does not believe Stigall and Garner should not have received an appointment for justices because they were not part of SGA.
“Andres comes up with ideas and he doesn’t present them to anyone,” Bonilla said in an interview after the meeting. “He just says here’s this document, let’s take a vote on it. He appointed himself to appoint who ever he wants. Now it’s in the constitution before he has a full senate.”
Currently, SGA has only two active senators, their constitution allows for 12.
“You want a full senate. Why didn’t he go out and say ‘Hey, do you want to go out and run for senator?’” Bonilla said. “Where was the recruitment? Where is the representation of our student government for our student body? You’re supposed to go out and recruit, talk to people, do that much at least.”
SGA will begin its regular sessions in the fall semester with Holliday as acting president. Bonilla said that she is unsure if she will be returning to SGA because of the conflicts.
“I don’t see the fairness in him and I hope that our executive board can read our statements. Mine, Brenda’s Garcia, and Whitney Newton’s,” Bonilla said, referring respectively to the College of Arts and Sciences’ SGA senator and the organization’s senator. “We’re going to stand up and we’re going to speak out and voice that he’s being unfair. Others may not voice his unfairness, but I’m not going to stand for that.”