By Elyse Shirley
INDIANA — During spirited debate Monday night, members of IUP’s student council voted to amend — and apparently ignore — their bylaws and extend by a half year the terms of their two top leaders.
The change was adopted on an 11-7 voice vote during a meeting in Eberly 409 that was attended by about 20 Student Government Association members, a faculty adviser and a reporter. No roll call was taken.
The new bylaw provision was not spelled out. But it means SGA President David C. Bivens and Vice President Andrew S. Longacre — both elected to one year terms in April 2010 — will retain their leadership positions until December.
Under old student-government bylaws, their terms would end April 18, the last SGA meeting of the semester, following April 4 elections.
All other Student Government Association officers and members will continue on the annual April election schedule.
Neither Bivens nor Longacre voted on the motion. But they did push for a vote before the meeting adjourned.
Bivens argued that the change was needed to smooth transitions between SGA administrations. Other members argued that the election clock under existing bylaws did not allow the change.
SGA bylaws Section 7.01, for example, reads: “No changes may be made within a month of the election.” The next election is scheduled for April 4. The SGA acted on March 21.
Rules Committee chairman Zachary J. Stayman argued for delay and moved that the matter be referred to his panel first. Other members defeated the motion on a voice vote.
Procedural questions arose. Michael G. Kennedy, a political science major and a vice presidential candidate, moved to make the change but then attempted to withdraw the motion. The SGA member who seconded his motion could not be identified, which presented a question about parliamentary procedure.
Bivens argued that it would be easier to proceed to an up-or-down vote on the motion. Both he and Longacre advised other members on procedural questions during the discussion.
At the end of the meeting, the president was all smiles.
“I don’t mind sticking around for another term,” said Bivens.
Some other student government members were angered by the outcome, including Eddie Cervantes, a presidential candidate for the 2011-2012 election.
“I feel like the democratic process has failed,” said Cervantes, a sophomore international business major.
Cervantes’ would-be opponent also expressed chagrin at the end of the session.
“This meeting was a clusterf—,” said Stayman, a political science major.
SGA members reacted with laughter. But tension was evident as members shifted in their seats and avoided eye contact with candidates whose intended elections were cancelled and rescheduled.
The date for the new election has yet to be set.
In other business:
SGA members debated an official position on a faculty-union-supported rally scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in the Oak Grove to protest Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed 50 percent cut in state spending on higher education.
A Stayman motion to condemn Corbett’s budget proposal passed unanimously. But Bivens expressed concern over political effects.
“I worry, as an organization, we will have bad consequences if we take this stance at a rally,” said Bivens.
However, SGA members said they will send about five representatives to Harrisburg for Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s advocacy days, an April 4-5 rally in opposition to the governor’s budget.
Bivens reviewed budgeting decisions made Thursday by the IUP Student Cooperative Association board, of which he is a member. Student-activity-fee spending on athletics, lively arts and museum activities will increase, Bivens reported. But the budget for the campus newspaper The Penn was cut, Bivens said. (See related story.)
Several SGA members asked why the paper’s funding was cut.
“They failed to meet certain criteria, and The Penn sucks,” said Bivens. “And that’s on the record.”
Kennedy concluded with an announcement that the SGA website is being redesigned.
Elyse Shirley, a junior majoring in journalism, English and Spanish, is from Indiana, Pa.