Marquette Student Government started off this semester on a positive upswing. In bringing Growing Power produce to campus and establishing a student government with the Wisconsin Conservatory of Lifelong Learning, MUSG has provided greater outreach to the student body as well as the surrounding community.
MUSG’s most recent undertaking, however, is far more internalized with the introduction of legislation to revise current senatorial impeachment regulations. Amendment 12: Clarification for Impeachment and Removal from Office Procedures, would purportedly build upon and clarify already existing processes for the impeachment of student senators.
Student government allows young adults to enhance their leadership skills and gain experience with legislative and parliamentary procedure. Members get a chance to make policy decisions that may have lasting effects on the student body as a whole. It makes sense for a student government to mirror its real-life counterparts as closely as possible, including measures for internal actions such as impeachment.
It is important, however, to remember that MUSG is, first and foremost, a student organization embedded within the confines of a university. Its purpose—not unlike that of the Marquette Wire and other organizations on campus—is to offer students the ability to practice their craft while still in the process of honing it. Before we are MUSG senators or Wire reporters, we are students; inherently, this means we are expected to make mistakes and learn from them.
Focusing on impeachment processes threatens this learning environment. Facilitating the senatorial impeachment process can lead to serious consequences if its application goes unchecked.
The amendment would allow any student to submit an impeachment request against a senator they deemed ineffective, and would also allow removal by a two-thirds vote and presidential recommendation. With the mere need to rally a certain number of students to bring about an impeachment, a majority of the Senate could gang up on an unpopular senator even if he or she was good at the job. Minor disagreements or missteps by a senator could incite the threat of impeachment rather than being a learning opportunity for all senators.
If this impeachment process is carried out, its usage must be limited and the grounds for impeachment must be made extremely clear, lest it become little more than a tool to gauge senatorial popularity and eliminate those who do not fit in. Impeachment should only be used as a last resort when a senator is truly having a negative effect on MUSG and all other attempts to change their activities prove futile.
Questions should arise, too, regarding why this motion is being so fervently advocated at this point in time in the first place. MUSG President Kyle Whelton himself noted there had been a need for this process several years ago, when council representatives allegedly slacked on their duties. If this was the case then, the push for a solution now seems delayed and unnecessary. From an outsider’s perspective, it would appear that Amendment 12 is being introduced for the purpose of imposing punitive measures upon a predetermined individual. We hope this interpretation is incorrect; nonetheless, it demonstrates a need for greater transparency on the issue and how the amendment would work in practice. The amendment brings up the question of additional elections to fill vacant seats and how they might be used to manipulate legislation.
MUSG’s focus this semester has been one of student and community outreach. This makes the current focus on internal processes all the more questionable as it could have negative effects on the student body as a whole.
In the end, the student body is arguably more concerned with what MUSG accomplishes throughout the year and less by who the individuals in office are — after all, only 22 percent of eligible voters turned out last year to elect this current administration. Efforts should not be pulled from successful and beneficial ventures at Marquette for the sake of implementing internally punitive measures that, frankly, very few students are clamoring for.