By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
Congress and its executive officers traded constitutional barbs Wednesday as a canceled meeting led members to conduct one without officers present.
Students’ Association president Jonathan Wilkerson canceled the Wednesday meeting after a planned session at the home of Dr. Royce Money, university president, fell through. Members of Congress, citing unfinished business from last week’s meeting, criticized the decision and declared they would conduct a meeting anyway.
“I don’t see this as the president or any of us calling a meeting,” said Rep. Elizabeth ‡lvarez, Administration Building. “With time going out, we decided to go ahead and take care of business.”
However, only 20 members attended-three short of the quorum needed to elect a temporary chair and conduct business.
Had the meeting met quorum, Wilkerson said he would not have recognized any legislation Congress passed.
“The president’s job is to provide a schedule of meetings, call them and preside over them,” Wilkerson said before the meeting, citing powers provided by the SA constitution. “Since I haven’t called one, any student group can meet and discuss. … If there is [a quorum], we’re not validating any decisions.”
Congress responded with constitutional reasons of its own, saying Wilkerson had no power to cancel a meeting and that the Rules of Order imply a weekly meeting.
“I’m glad Jonathan sees himself as being above and beyond the Constitution,” ‡lvarez said.
Parliamentarian Jennifer Grimes, who had been appointed by Wilkerson and approved by Congress, said only a quorum was needed to conduct official business.
“If she shows up and says, ‘You can’t have a meeting,’ we would have left,” ‡lvarez said. “I wouldn’t be here if I thought it was unconstitutional.”
The 20 members decided on a way to collect names for nomination next week to a nine-member standing committee on the budget before adjourning.
At least one senator from each class, including all five sophomores, attended, as well as representatives from the Administration and Biblical Studies buildings; Chambers, McKinzie, Morris and Sikes halls; Zona Luce; Don H. Morris Center; and University Park apartments.
At least one attendee, Rep. Taylor Hemness, Don Morris, said he was glad Congress could not meet quorum, fearing an ugly legitimacy battle between the members and the officers had legislation been passed.
“The meeting [Wednesday] was wrong on both sides,” Hemness said. While Wilkerson should not have canceled the meeting, he said, “I think it’s wrong to be there without the executive officers.”
Wilkerson said he canceled the meeting after Dr. Royce Money, university president, canceled a planned dinner for SA at his house, which had been planned instead of usual business.
“Since we weren’t planning on doing business, and we had short notice and not enough time to prepare an agenda, I decided it would be better to hold off until next week,” as well as set aside time for business at the rescheduled Money dinner Oct. 22, he said.
The rogue meeting, called on short notice by ‡lvarez in a mass e-mail sent in reply to Wilkerson’s missive that canceled the scheduled meeting, was not Congress rebelling against the executive officers, said Rep. Tommy Butler, Biblical Studies building.
“This is a call to the Student Congress to be responsible to the student body,” Butler said.