Judiciary Judgments: Exemptions granted by Judicial Council sets precedent

SGA Cartoon

Herald Editorial Board

The Issue: Decisions made by the SGA Judicial Council to grant exemptions to two candidates have turned this year’s elections into a three-way race.

Our Stance: The rulings create the possibility for even more people with limited or no SGA experience to run for an executive position

The sun is shining, the wind is blowing in a quirky northeasterly fashion and SGA elections are fully underway. While only 10 percent of the student body will likely bother to vote, based on the turnout of previous elections, we feel the need to talk about recent decisions made for this election.

Seeing as current SGA President Jay Todd Richey cannot run for a third term this means it’s time to elect a new president. What was once a one-person race has turned into a three-way race courtesy of the SGA Judicial Council.

Comprised of seven justices, the Judicial Council “interprets the governing documents of WKU SGA, validates if legislation is constitutional, and serves as an impartial voice regarding WKU SGA matters.”

Running this year for SGA president are Andi Dahmer, Lily Nellans and Kenan Mujkanovic all of whom are SGA senators, yet only one of whom was eligible to run for president under the SGA Constitution.

Article 2.2.5 of the SGA Constitution reads, “The President, Executive Vice President, and Administrative Vice President shall have completed one year of membership as an elected or appointed officer in the Student Government Association or may be granted an exemption by Judicial Council.”

Originally only Dahmer was able to run for president, but the council gave both Nellans and Mujkanovic an exemption despite only both of them having served in SGA for less than one semester.

This is not an endorsement of Dahmer, nor a smear on the ability of Nellans or Mujkanovic. All three candidates have experience both in and out of SGA: Nellans is heavily awarded in forensics, Mujkanovic is a co-founder and executive of a non-profit organization and Dahmer is involved with countless organizations outside of SGA.

But the recent decisions made by the council have set a precedent. A precedent in which those without a full year of experience in SGA, or even a semester for that matter, can be permitted to run for the highest office representing the student body and given a seat on the Board of Regents.

Representing the student body on the board will be especially vital when President Gary Ransdell retires and Timothy Caboni takes his place as president. While Caboni will not have a formal vote on the board, it’s undeniable the role a president has in influencing the board’s decisions, or in some cases simply seeking approval for a deal that’s already been finalized. For example, the failure that was the Medical Center or WKU’s deal with Hanban.

While it’s often perceived as edgy and bold to say you’ll, “fight against the board” or, “represent the best interests of students,” we’re not fully confident any of the candidates are aware of the purview of the board’s powers and responsibilities nor the role of the student regent.

When the council gave Mujkanovic an exemption they reached a consensus that while they weren’t solely granting him one because they had Nellans, pointing to some of the achievements he laid out, they couldn’t deny that was a primary reason as well.

With the Judicial Council’s newfound rulings, the possibility opens for even more people with impressively padded resumes and either limited or no SGA experience to run for an executive position. The council cannot simply flip-flop on those possible matters, they either have to remain consistent from here on out or possibly an amendment to the SGA constitution is needed altogether.

Or perhaps this gets to an organizational weakness of SGA. A lack of senior members willing to step up and run for executive positions, issues of retaining students or an overarching issue we’ve seen emerge in this campaign and previous ones where people may not know about the role of SGA at all.

But, if the Judicial Council was looking to make things more interesting by ensuring that this year’s election was not an uncontested race then they’ve succeeded in that regard. The Judicial Council has muddied the waters for this election and future ones.