Student Association President Michael Kimmer and SA Chief Justice James Kennedy called the SA Student Court case of Ferguson v. Kimmer, the biggest case the SA has seen in 20 years.
The verdict of the case was delivered Wednesday and was in favor of the Executive Council Vice President Ferguson.
“The majority decision of the court for Ferguson v. Kimmer (5-0) is that Ryan Ferguson, under the constitution, did no wrong and therefore Michael Kimmer’s actions to remove him from his office of Vice-President of Finance is deemed unconstitutional,” Kennedy wrote in the verdict.
Kennedy also gave reason behind the Student Court’s ruling in that verdict.
“The court decided that the language of the document clearly stated ‘candidate’ in qualifications for office. As a result, we do believe that the language of the constitution creates no mandates for GPA requirements after winning election. Thus, the court decided in favor of Ferguson, the petitioner, in this regard.”
Ferguson challenged Kimmer on the grounds that, while SA candidates are required to hold a minimum 2.3 GPA while running for office, there is no constitutional specification requiring those elected to hold a minimum GPA after taking office, as Ferguson’s had fallen below the requirement after assuming office in January.
“First, I contend that I am eligible (to hold office) within it (GPA requirement) because the GPA requirement is a requirement to run for office and not a requirement to maintain office,” Ferguson said prior to the case.
Ferguson also challenged Kimmer on the way in which Ferguson was temporarily prohibited from fulfilling his duties as vice president of finance. Ferguson said Kimmer had no power as president to relieve him of his vice-presidential standing, as the Constitution does not outline such powers to any member of the SA, other than the Senate.
In situations where Executive Council members fail to uphold their requirements, the precedent has been that the student willingly resigns from their position, or the student is impeached through the Articles of Impeachment, which is the part of the Constitution which outlines constitutional impeachment procedures, and the Senate. However, the SA has never had to issue a formal impeachment.
“I contend that I am not in violation of that policy, but that’s not really the big part of the court case,” Ferguson said prior to the court hearing. “The bigger part is that President Kimmer took an action based off of that on his own, and removed me from office when there is no place in the Constitution that gives him the authority to do that.”
He also said that because he can prove Kimmer does not have the power as president to remove him from office, he is still technically in office as vice president of finance.
“Although we took our oath of office at the Student Association banquet in early December, no current elected official of the Student Association actually took office untilJanuary 1, 2016,” Kimmer said, reading his defense to the court. “Due to an inability to meet the minimum GPA requirement that resulted from the inclusion of the grades received during the fall semester of 2015, Ryan’s semester became ineligible for office before he was able to take office on January 1, 2016, according to the board of elections guidelines.”
Kimmer’s defense to Ferguson’s petition, in which to bring Kimmer to court, also stated that because the Constitution lacked clear guidelines of the GPA requirement, it was his job as SA president to make a decision regarding Ferguson’s position, deeming his actions an “executive order.”
“It is the job of the president to be a voice for the population that they represent to make sure that the organization that they represent is functioning properly and to be a leader,” Kimmer said in his defense. “In order to be a leader, one needs to take action at times in order to preserve the integrity and functionality of an important organization, the actions I am referring to are known as executive actions in relation to our United States federal government.”
Kimmer said the position of vice president of finance was crucial to how the SA operates, and it was important to make sure the person filling the position is not on the verge of academic dismissal, and “fully committed,” to the role.
“VP of finance is a very important position and it’s something that has to be taken care of for our organization to function properly, and you can’t risk having someone who isn’t fully invested in the position, in that position,” Kimmer said.
Kimmer also said in court that he did not impeach Ferguson because he was never eligible to take office to begin with. Ferguson said he took office Jan. 1 and was improperly “removed” Jan. 28.
The judiciary ruling allows Ferguson to resume his power as vice president of finance immediately.
“It is noted by the court that Articles of Impeachment were not brought forward, which would have been a valid process for removal. This process was not used and therefore, the actions of the respondent, Kimmer, are deemed unconstitutional,” the written verdict states. “The remedy for this action, which the petitioner, Ferguson, seeks is to legally reclaim the position of Vice President of Finance. The court has heard both arguments and has agreed that this remedy is justified and should be given.”
The Constitutional Legislation Committee, appointed in the beginning of the semester, plans on using this court case as a basis to rework the constitution and add bylaws to take place with the future legislations. Kimmer said the legislation will either create bylaws that are more specific and concise, or eliminate the GPA requirement entirely.
“I’d honestly just like to get back to working and helping the students and I really just want to go and start working on budgets because that is going to be incredibly hard, and now I’m three weeks behind on what should be my training,” Ferguson said.
Email Marissa Russo at firstname.lastname@example.org