The Daily Gamecock

Student senate fails to remove senator for excessive absences

At its weekly meeting on Wednesday, the student senate failed to remove a senator after he was found to be in violation of the attendance policy. 

Senator David Nelson was found to have exceeded the maximum absences allowed by the Student Government codes, and a motion was made by Speaker pro tempore Ian Herd to begin removal proceedings.

According to the codes, senators are permitted to miss three full-senate sessions and two committee sessions, which Herd said Nelson has surpassed by three additional absenses.

"I just want to re-emphasize that with an unexcused absence, that means that there were eight instances where senator Nelson did not communicate with this chairperson or the chief of staff," Herd said in his remarks to the senate.

Before voting on the motion, Nelson, who represents the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, defended himself before the senate and said he realizes the value of his attendance .

"I do recognize (that) my attendance is required. I would like to improve that," Nelson said before yielding for questions.

Herd said that this motion did not come from a place of malice but rather due to the fact that this proceeding was required by the codes.

"My recommendation is to vote in the affirmative for this removal of the senator solely because there are applicants waiting to fill senate seats who who have pledged to attend," Herd said.

The roll call vote to remove Nelson needed two-thirds of the present senators to vote in favor of his removal for it to take effect, which would have been 28 votes of the 42 senators present. However, just 26 senators voted for his removal with 12 voting against his removal and four abstaining. Because there were not enough votes to remove Nelson, the motion failed and Nelson was allowed to retain his seat in the student senate and on the finance and sustainability committees.

After the period of debate, several senators and Student Government members continued to speak on removing Nelson from student senate.

"I respect the rule of law, and I respect our rules and I respect our codes. And I expect every other senator to also respect those codes as well," senator Chandler Caulder said.

The chairman of the judiciary committee, Samuel Bryant, said after the vote that fellow senators failed to uphold the letter of the codes with their votes.

"I'm just going to go ahead and preface that nothing I say is at all personal," Bryant said. "I don't know Senator Nelson, but purely from a governing documents perspective, we are to be upheld to certain rules and a certain code that we govern ourselves by on behalf (of) and for the student body. And we should follow those and hold ourselves to a certain standard, and the body did not hold each other to that standard tonight." 

Lauren Horton, the press secretary for the Speaker of the student senate, said that no matter the result, she hopes the vote sets a standard for the future.

"The senators have the ability to exercise their right to vote, and they did so today. We just hope this kind of sets a precedent forward over (the) expectation of attendance," Horton said.

Senator Nelson declined to give a statement to The Daily Gamecock.