By Meghan Brink, Cameron Cupp, Nate DePaul | May 6th, 2021
Bryan Ramsaran has been stripped of his position of Student Association Senate Chairman after an attempt to install himself as President in the final early morning hours of a marathon budget meeting, leaving the student government in a state of upheaval.
The decision came Thursday afternoon following an overnight executive session by the Senate, which Ramsaran, then still chairman, tried to install himself as SA president through a bill introduced around 6 a.m., followed by an alleged swearing in of Ramsaran as President by the SA Supreme Court Chief Justice.
The decision to strip Ramsaran of his powers came Thursday afternoon on the same day, where the SA Supreme Court weighed in on the move as 'unconstitutional.'
This meeting has led to disarray within the student government, as the SA Supreme Court voted to strip the SA Supreme Court Justice of his position, placed an injunction on the governing body's budget, which funds students organizations on campus through fees paid by students, and placed all bodies of the Student Association on pause.
Ramsaran has been at the center of controversy since the SA general elections in late March. Ramsaran won the SA General Election by a 51% margin, but later was retroactively disqualified from that election on counts of violation of several SA by laws, including bribing students for votes, harassment, and involvement with rogue Greek life by the SA Elections Commission in April.
Supporters of Ramsaran in the Senate tried to reinstate his win during a 10-hour meeting in executive session that started Wednesday night by introducing the "For the 51% bill." The so-called "For the 51%" bill was an attempt to void the decision to retroactively disqualify Ramsaran’s candidacy by the SA Elections Commission, and grant Ramsaran signatory powers, effectively naming him President-elect.
The bill was introduced by Senators Michelle Castellanos-Ojeda, Tori Garcia and Julie Lembach in executive session, which according to the Supreme Court was a violation of SA bylaws, as executive session votes, which occur outside of the public eye, can only be used when bills are sensitive in nature.
This bill passed by an undisclosed margin, which led the the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Thomas Magana, to swear in Ramsaran following the vote. Magana was subsequently removed on Thursday through a vote of no-confidence by his Supreme Court peers, as his conduct was deemed to be unethical.
It is not clear to what extent Magana was involved with Thursday’s events, and prior knowledge of the introduction of the "For the 51%" bill.
The entire meeting spanned 10 hours, and 6a.m., the session lacked a quorum, as according to multiple Senators present, attendees had left the lengthy meeting to either sleep or tend to school work. SA bylaws mandate in order to adopt any legislation or resolution, a majority of the voting body must be present, making any business, including the adopted budget, null and void.
The Supreme Court Justices, with one unnamed justice along with Magana in abstention, voted 4-0-0 that Ramsaran violated SA bylaws and two court orders. On April 28, the court had ordered Ramsaran, under his duties as chairman, to swear in the newly-elected senators from the Spring 2021 election. Ramsaran failed to comply.
The court order was reissued on May 5 after the original order was ignored.
After ignoring the order for a second time, the court found Ramsaran in violation of by law 604.2.5, which states “new officers will officially take office during the twelfth week of the Spring semester during the Student Association Senate meeting to the twelfth week point.”
The Court's formal order notice stated, “due to the fact the senators terms have expired constitutionally, any action taken during the May 5th meeting is null and void,” stated the Court’s formal order. “The court holds that the senate doesn't have the constitutional authority to name any victor or loser of the election.”
Now that Ramsaran has been removed, the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Shaneil Wynter will preside over senate proceedings until the body elects a new chairperson.
Additionally, the Court in a vote of 4-0-0 placed a temporary restrictive injunction on the SA Senate, meaning the current sitting Senators are effectually at a pause until the swearing in of the newly elected Senators occurs.
President-elect Abdoullah Goudiaby has called a special session to be held tomorrow at 7p.m. where he stated that “all heads of branches have consulted and formulated an action plan to facilitate the restoration of SA's functionality and integrity.”
At the special session, Goudiaby is to be sworn in as SA President as well as the newly elected senators.
President-elect Abdoullah Goudiaby told the ASP that he will address this situation, in public, at some point in the near future.