Constitutional Conflict Prompts SGA Vote Concerning Executive VP Schriner-Briggs

By Justin Wier 

Student Government Association is holding a special meeting Monday to discuss a resolution that would grant Jacob Schriner-Briggs, executive vice president, an exemption to SGA’s constitution. If it fails, he would resign.

Schriner-Briggs assumed the presidency of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity on Sunday, but SGA’s constitution states that the president and executive vice president of SGA cannot serve as executive officers for registered student organizations.

An SGA adviser made Schriner-Briggs aware of the conflict, and he promptly notified the SGA representatives.

Schriner-Briggs said the conflict presented a quandary because he cares very deeply about both organizations.

“I think the decision I made was to fulfill the obligations that come with both positions while also understanding that doing so is a privilege,” Schriner-Briggs said. “It’s not a right.”

He said he didn’t want to push the dilemma onto other people, but he wants to explain his position to the body and allow them to determine the direction SGA will take.

Megan Evans, chair of academic affairs for SGA, drafted a proposed resolution granting Schriner-Briggs an exemption if two-thirds of the body vote in support of the resolution.

“If there isn’t that strong of support, it’s healthier for the organization that I would resign,”
Schriner-Briggs said. “If there’s not a significant chunk of the body in support of you staying, it doesn’t make sense to stay. It becomes divisive for the institution.”

Schriner-Briggs said the vote will be conducted online, given that the special meeting is being held during finals week and the full body may not be in attendance.

The resolution avoids impeachment — which is a longer process — and also requires stronger support for Schriner-Briggs to remain in his position. Impeachment requires a two-thirds vote to remove someone from office. If one-third of the body votes against the proposed resolution, Schriner-Briggs would resign.

“Although I would be saddened to resign because I care so much about this, I would also be understanding, and I wouldn’t want to put student government through any hardship by drawing out the process,” Schriner-Briggs said.

Ashley Orr, president of SGA, said she believes the provision exists to prevent conflicts of interest and to make sure the president and executive vice president can devote an adequate amount of time to the post.

Both Orr and Schriner-Briggs said the first consideration was unlikely to be an issue.

“There wouldn’t be conflicts of interest. I abstain from all votes regarding Sigma Tau Gamma anyway as of right now. Obviously, I would just continue to do that,” Schriner-Briggs said.

In regards to the workload, Orr said her opinion might have been different at the beginning of the year, but they had a productive fall semester and much of the groundwork for spring has already been laid.

“We are at a point where I believe that if he devoted time to his fraternity, he could also still devote the necessary amount of time to the Student Government Association,” Orr said.

She said she has respect for governing documents, but they outline procedures for amending them, and those discussions are worthwhile because situations change.

“It’s important for us to make sure that our governing documents aren’t constraining us, but at the same time making sure that we’re also leading in such a way that we’re following some of the past precedent and fulfilling our mission,” Orr said.

She said it’s important that SGA members try to make decisions with the best interest of the student body in mind.

Over the course of the last two years, Schriner-Briggs has co-chaired the Academic Senate’s Academic Standards Committee, created a Student Academic Success Initiative with former SGA President Michael Slavens and quadrupled the SGA appropriations budget alongside Orr.

“Although my future is uncertain, that future is going to be decided by the people that I work with,” Schriner-Briggs said. “I am absolutely deferential and understanding of whatever decision comes from this.”

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