The student senate voted Wednesday night to remove two senators for violations of the attendance policy and passed a bill requiring executive officers to be enrolled on the Columbia campus and physically present for the entirety of their term by a single vote.
Citing a violation of section 2-2-20 of the Student Government codes, the senate voted to remove senators David Nelson and Marshall Robinson. Robinson, who represented the School of Music, was removed by a near-unanimous vote, with 42 senators voting in favor of his removal, zero voting against his removal and one abstaining.
The policy states that “a Senator shall be allowed a total of three (3) unexcused absences per term from regularly scheduled Senate sessions and two (2) unexcused absences per term for every regularly scheduled meeting for a committee that a senator is a part of.” According to the senate's attendance spreadsheet, Robinson had missed each full senate session this semester.
"We need to remove this senator because there are other people who would be willing to represent those constituents. We have a couple hundred to a thousand people not being represented here tonight, so I think it’s really important. In all cases, we must represent the student body." senator Patrick Koon said during the discussion period on Robinson's removal.
Robinson was not present at the meeting and was unable to give a statement.
Nelson, who narrowly avoided removal during last week's meeting, was removed on a more divided vote, with 29 senators voting in favor of his removal, 10 voting against his removal and one abstaining.
Nelson said that he wished it had not come to another vote on his removal so quickly after he committed to improved attendance last week.
"I wanted to serve," Nelson said. "I felt like I wasn’t given the chance to actually prove myself again."
The senate also passed a bill that would amend the Student Government codes and require that those running for executive office positions fill out a statement of intention, which states that they will be physically present and enrolled at USC's Columbia campus for the entirety of their term.
Candidates for all four executive offices — student body president, vice president, treasurer and speaker of the student senate — will now be required to sign the statement when they file as a candidate.
The bill was the first of this student senate session to be debated on the floor for adoption and featured a lengthy debate over its effect.
Senator Ava Baber spoke in favor of the bill and said that it was initially proposed because the senate body realized how important it was for executives to be on campus as much as possible.
“To have someone be not physically present and to be paying those people to not really be able to represent their constituents in a physical capacity, or in an official capacity for that matter, it just wouldn't be fair,” Baber said.
However, senators in opposition of the bill said that the legislation discourages students whose majors require them to study abroad from running for executive office.
“As an international business major, I feel like I was representing my constituents as a business school senator. I feel like this could be a common issue, and I think I'm just representing their beliefs. I personally didn't have anything against the bill, but I just thought it was in the best interest of my college to stand up and probably represent their beliefs, not just my own,” Koon said.
The bill passed by a narrow majority, with 22 senators voting in favor of the bill, 13 voting against the bill and five abstaining. With 40 senators present, 21 votes were needed for the bill to pass.