Andrew Wilson

In a ruling Wednesday, the Student Government Judicial Court invalidated the external and internal appointments made by the new SG administration on April 29, stating that the SG executive board violated the organization's governing rules as they apply to disclosing applicant information.

The appointments, which were confirmed by the SG general assembly last month, will need to be reconfirmed when SG meets for the first time in the fall semester. According to SG Chief Justice Philip Wiseman, the executive board may nominate the same people to the internal and external positions, or choose new candidates for the positions.

The ruling said “should members of the executive branch choose to nominate future appointments for any internal or external positions, the Chief of Staff must make all documentation publicly available…”

Despite the lack of interview notes prior to the April 29 meeting, the assembly confirmed all internal and external positions except for the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees.

The ruling was made after Andrew Wilson, outgoing Liberal Arts Council president, filed a petition for review regarding the process of nominating students to positions for Spirit and Traditions Council chair, Faculty Council Student Life Committee chair and any other position in which a nominee who was nominated to a position that was not their first choice.

The executive board addressed the concerns for the nomination of the three committees by deciding to leave the positions unfilled. However, Wilson still asked that the court consider all other positions.

According to Wilson, the process was not transparent because the executive board failed to publicly release interview questions, responses and additional notes of potential nominees.

“The only way to [be transparent] is by releasing notes from the interviews, which the chief of staff has failed to do,” Wilson said.

Despite a court ruling in early April asking the executive board to release all interview notes before the April 29 meeting, Chief of Staff Chris Jordan said the board decided not to do so in order to protect information that students disclosed in interviews.

According to the court’s opinion, these concerns “cannot overcome public interests of combating corruption and ensuring transparency…”

SG President Kori Rady said he stands by protecting the information in the interview notes, but hopes to increase communication with the assembly.

“There were some things that were pretty intimate during the interviews,” Rady said. “That was our concern and that was why the interview notes were not released prior to appointment.”

Rady said he hopes to work with the assembly to make sure privacy concerns are addressed while interviewing candidates.

Internal and external Student Government positions were not officially sworn in by the SG Judicial Court on Tuesday night because of controversies surrounding external
appointments nominations.

All internal positions were confirmed by the assembly during Tuesday’s meeting but won’t be officially sworn in until the court issues a decision next week, according to SG Chief Justice Philip Wiseman. As of press time, no external positions were confirmed.

Andrew Wilson, outgoing president of the Liberal Arts Council, submitted a petition claiming three external positions did not have applications filed for them and asked that all interview notes be made public.

Originally, executive board members were nominated in three positions: SG President Kori Rady as the chair of the Spirit and Traditions Council, Internal Financial Director Rachel Miller as the chair of Faculty Council Student Life Committee and Vice President Taylor Strickland as Faculty Council Rec Sports Committee chair. 

According to Chris Jordan, SG chief of staff, using an executive board member in an unfilled position is not an uncommon practice and allows the position to be filled by the Faculty Council’s deadline, so the position can be opened up again in the summer.

Wilson’s petition requested the court issue an injunction on the confirmations of the external nominations. 

The SG Judicial Court voted 3-2 against issuing a preliminary injunction motion. Wiseman said a court hearing will be scheduled next week.

“Confirmation hearings tonight are not the last step,” Wiseman said. “Making those public rulings will ultimately determine if the process was legitimate and followed appropriately.”

Last week, the court issued an opinion advising that the executive board publicize applications and interview transcripts 48 hours before this week’s agenda was released to the assembly.

The SG internal rules state the chief of staff must make public all applications for all appointees. Jordan said he released all the applications, but did not do so before the set deadline. As a result, the names were not allowed to be put on the agenda.

“For transparency purposes, I didn’t have all the interviews done 48 hours before the meeting,” Jordan said. 

Wilson said, without interview notes, the assembly would not be able to effectively evaluate the appointments.

“You can increase the legitimacy of the representative nature of SG by reopening the applications to other students, and they can fill them out over the summer, rather than just filing students in those positions who didn’t even fill out an application or probably even do an interview,” Wilson said.

Jordan said although Wilson has raised these concerns, he has not received a request from any member of the assembly for interview notes.

“The feeling of the assembly is that it’s kind of irrelevant,” Jordan said. “The internal rules says all interview questions and answers shall be made public by the staff, but it does not mention transcripts.”

Seventeen college councils at the University signed a letter to be released Monday asking that Regent Wallace Hall resign from his position at the UT System Board of Regents.

The Senate of College Councils serves as one of the three legislative student organizations advocating academic issues at the University and is made up of 19 active college councils. The two councils from the McCombs School of Business — the Undergraduate Business Council and the Masters in Professional Accounting Council — were the only ones not to sign the letter.

Hall has been accused by state legislators of overstepping his authority as a regent by filing large records requests and working to oust President William Powers Jr. from his position. The House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations has been conducting the investigation, and a report released earlier this month by the committee’s special counsel Rusty Hardin, found some of Hall’s actions constituted possible criminal violations of the Penal Code and Public Information Act in regards to student privacy.

Senate of College Councils President Geetika Jerath said the letter would continue to show students do not support Hall’s actions. The Senate and Student Government gave Hall a vote of no confidence in November 2013. 

“Since we have closely followed the work of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations as they are investigating the conduct of Regent Hall, we thought this was the perfect time to reaffirm our vote of no confidence,” Jerath said. 

Jerath said she wanted the student voice to be recognized in this matter. The letter will also emphasize senate’s support of Powers.

“We encourage him to resign, and, failing that, we ask Gov. Perry to seek his resignation,” Jerath said. “As student leaders, we have a duty to represent our constituents, to ensure that their interests are protected, and, since we have lost that trust in Regent Wallace Hall, we thought this was the appropriate action that was necessary at this time.”

Andrew Wilson, outgoing president of the Liberal Arts Council, which signed the letter, said he completely supported the letter after observing Hall’s actions throughout the year.

“Regent Hall’s actions were really uncalled for and illegal in some regards, and it’s really just unacceptable on behalf of the students,” Wilson said. “The things that stuck out to me were the laws he broke regarding student privacy.”

Along with senate’s letter, the seven members of the SG Executive Board will also write a letter and introduce legislation calling for Hall’s resignation at the upcoming SG meeting Tuesday.

SG President Kori Rady said he hopes the executive board’s letter and Tuesday’s resolution will continue the momentum of student involvement in the issue.

“We felt like this was important and key for the University and the students,” Rady said. “We want to make sure that people are aware that we know what’s going on, and we don’t want this to continue.”