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No further decisions made on ousted Elections Committee Chair - The Pitt News

The Pitt News

No further decisions made on ousted Elections Committee Chair

By Natalie Daher / Editor-in-Chief

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It’s unclear whether Student Government Board’s recently ousted Elections Chair will oversee next week’s election. 

Former Elections Committee Chair Lauren Barney will appeal the Board’s decision to dismiss her in an open hearing slated tentatively for Wednesday or Thursday, according to Judicial Committee Chair Audrey Winn. The Board, Elections Committee and Judicial Committee will attend the hearing. 

The Board notified Barney of her dismissal Friday in an email, citing misconduct that was prompted partly by a hearing and deliberation that she held in the Board’s office on Oct. 29. The meeting followed Presidential candidate Wasi Mohamed’s complaint about competitor and current Board Member Graeme Meyer and his affiliated 87’s slate. 

“Because it was an email, it didn’t outline every point that went into the decision to dismiss her,” Winn said, adding that questioning Barney’s former committee will give the judicial committee a “deeper understanding of what she was dismissed for.” 

Both parties can provide evidence, Winn said, including any email threads, notes, names of witnesses and the audio recording of the Board’s meeting with Barney on Friday before her dismissal.

“In this hearing, everyone seems worried about corruption of evidence because there are so many people with overlapping roles,” Winn said.

The judicial committee prioritized the case of Barney’s dismissal, Winn said, before another outstanding complaint filed by Meyer about Barney’s bias. If Barney retains her position, then the judicial committee will address Meyer’s complaint, according to Winn.

At the upcoming hearing, the Board will outline its private deliberation to dismiss Barney, according to Board President Mike Nites. Nites said he’ll be identifying “each different thing that the Board felt and had an issue with” that shaped its decision.

With one week before the election, Barney said her abrupt firing will make it difficult for her replacement and former vice chair Kevin Tracey to effectively assume her responsibilities.

“They removed me on terms that were illegitimate,” Barney said. “They are trying to ensure an honest, fair and efficient election — which is my job — but that’s hypocrisy … They’re making an unfair, inefficient and dishonest election.” 

Nites, however, disagreed and said he thinks Tracey will be able to fluently transition into the role. 

“I don’t envision it impacting the election from the Election Committee’s point of view really that much at all,” he said. 

While Barney contests her firing, Nites said the Board’s right to intervene on a Committee chair’s performance becomes “an issue every year.”

The SGB Constitution prohibits the Board from exerting “any undue influence” on committees’ operations, which is why Nites said he hesitated to approach Barney on Oct. 29 until after her committee’s deliberation concluded.

He said the Board plans to more concretely define “undue influence” in its Governing Code and Constitution.

“As long as we do things in a way that is fair and is following the procedures that are outlined, and we’re not coercing, and we’re not threatening, and it’s more reactionary … I don’t think there’s any undue influence in that case,” Nites said.

 

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No further decisions made on ousted Elections Committee Chair