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Interim parliamentarian resigns; position empty amid repeat constitutional violation


By Anita Alem and Elizabeth Rasich     4/4/17 9:20pm

The first bill of Student Association President Justin Onwenu’s term passed Monday night, but the vote occurred as a straw poll by hand in an apparent constitutional violation.

Although Onwenu said Former Parliamentarian Annabelle McIntire-Gavlick, a Lovett College senior, was continuing her role as an interim parliamentarian until he chose a new appointee, McIntire-Gavlick told the Thresher she is no longer involved with the SA. After the Thresher informed Onwenu of McIntire-Gavlick’s statement that she is no longer the parliamentarian, Onwenu said she had resigned.

Onwenu, a Sid Richardson College junior, declined to comment on when McIntire-Gavlick submitted her formal resignation and said a new parliamentarian will be announced shortly.

The SA passed the SB1 legislation, titled To Charter the Undocumented Student Support Services Working Group, which will convene a group of senators to gather information about resources available to undocumented students at Rice and address problems these students face.

During the voting period, Onwenu called for a show of hands for those in favor, those opposed and those abstaining rather than the constitutionally mandated roll call vote.

Section 4ei of the updated version of the constitution, which was passed in the first round of SA elections, states, “All votes on legislation shall be conducted by roll call, to be published on the Student Association website by the Secretary.” The previous version of the constitution contained the same requirement.

Onwenu said he was unaware the roll call vote was required and based on conversations with McIntire-Gavlick, he thought he could call a roll call vote or an all-hands vote on a case-by-case basis. He said he will conduct a roll call vote moving forward.

"We'll make sure not to mess that up again," Onwenu said.

Former SA President Griffin Thomas also failed to take roll call votes until November of his term in office, when the Thresher notified him that doing so was a constitutional violation. McIntire-Gavlick was the SA parliamentarian under Thomas.

Thomas, a Lovett senior, blamed the violation on length and complicated nature of the constitution, which at the time was 42,000 words long.

“That was a mix-up on [SA Parliamentarian] Annabelle [McIntire-Gavlick’s] and my behalf,” Thomas said in the November Thresher article.

The revised version of the constitution that is governing Onwenu’s time in office is 6,200 words. Although passed in the first round of SA elections in mid-March, the constitution was not uploaded to the SA website until Monday night.

"If you'll just be patient with us," Onwenu said.

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