By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
A week after no member of Congress protested proceeding with impeachment procedures against Williams Performing Arts Center Rep. Zach Tabers, the Students’ Association backed off its position Wednesday.
More than half the members present voted against continuing with the proceedings to impeach Tabers for excessive absences.
Tabers, who missed seven of 11 meetings last semester and all four official meetings this semester, offered a written statement explaining his absences. He mainly pointed to his participation in the A Cappella Choir, which practices at the same time as SA meetings, as the reason for his absences. He also wrote that he would make a more concerted effort to attend meetings and vote absentee for those he could not attend.
SA’s Constitution says a member may be impeached if they do not attend 80 percent of official meetings or committee meetings or put in the required number of office hours.
Upon reading his statement, most members of Congress leaned toward extending him grace.
“To be an effective member, you have to be a part of the building you represent,” junior Sen. Andrew Greenberg said. “If you’re associating with people of your constituency, I think we should give him a little grace.”
Some members, although in favor of extending Tabers’ grace this time, warned Congress to monitor his future attendance.
“I don’t think we need to question what happened in the past,” senior Sen. Jeffrey Rasco said. “If he’s going to continue to choose to miss SA meetings, he’s not choosing to serve.”
Much of the discussion centered on where the real work of SA occurs.
“Anyone who thinks the real work of SA takes place at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays in this room has it all wrong,” sophomore Sen. Jake Roseberry said.
Members never officially voted on Tabers’ impeachment. The executive officers interpreted SA’s Constitution to mean that one of the officers must make the motion for impeachment. When asked if it would like to continue with the impeachment, Congress voted 14-18. Speaking for the executive cabinet, Sarah Woodroof, executive secretary, announced they would not continue with the proceedings at this time.
“We only will go through with the impeachment if it is the will of Congress as a whole,” Woodroof said. “Most of the comments I’ve gotten today have been against the impeachment.”
Congress also showed concern for impeaching one member of Congress when it was announced that more than 40 percent of members could have been impeached for missing too many meetings, and 75 percent of Congress were in violation of the attendance policy for meetings and working office hours.
A few members supported the idea of passing a resolution asking Tabers to stick to his renewed commitment for participation or resign, or face the impeachment process again in the future. However, that resolution failed 4-26 with two abstentions.
In other business, freshman Sen. Brandon Smith asked SA for ideas and its opinion on rewriting congressional bylaws. He said a committee of members has been formed to look into the bylaws, which were written for a Congress meant for a different purpose.
“The bylaws were not written for a Congress based on advocacy,” Smith said. “The bylaws were not meant to change.”
When Congress votes to change its bylaws, it simply writes a new rule on top of the existing laws. Bylaws still exist regarding the election of class officers, which were done away with two years ago when classes began electing five senators instead of a president and vice president.
Congress also pledged support for an electronic voting system to replace the usual paper balloting for this spring’s elections.
Keith Robinson, chief financial officer, said this system, which was integrated to work with my.ACU by Dr. James Langford, director of Web Integration and Programming, and others in Information Technology, could improve voter turnout among students as well as provide other benefits.
“We feel that this system is better suited for assuring that elections are secure,” Robinson said.
Last spring, Congress had given the Association for Computing Machinery $3,400 to develop an electronic voting system for this spring’s elections, but Robinson said the executive cabinet talked with Langford, and he said the university already had a system capable of fulfilling SA’s needs. Congress will not have to maintain the system, and it will cost SA nothing to implement.