Mensah tries to veto censure

Student Government Association President Kofi Mensah attempted to veto the censure after the Senate’s approval of the motion during the Feb. 6 SGA meeting. “The constitution mentions nothing about vetoing a motion because the right does not exist,” Speaker of the Senate Claire Chevrier said. “According to Article X of the constitution …The President is only able to veto legislation.” Mensah said he was censured because his oral report for the Board of Trustees was two days late for the Senate’s review. “Senators chose to censure President Mensah because he consciously chose to violate a rule that was just added to the constitution and has to do with what is arguably his most important duty: giving the Board of Trustees Report,” Chevrier said. Last year, former President Bryce Jones vetoed a motion to sanction Mensah by the elections committee, Mensah said. Following this precedent, he said he believed it was constitutionally acceptable to veto the senator’s censure. “[Speaker Chevrier] does have the power to interpret the constitution, and if I am in the wrong in vetoing the motion, then I apologize for that,” Mensah said. “I was under the impression from last year that I could.” The trivial procedures of this motion have forced senators to become aware of their constitutional duties and have also set a standard of future work ethic, SGA Senator Michael White said. “Moving on into the future, we are going to be stronger,” White said. “I’m sorry it happened this way, but it has had good results.” Many of the senators said they recognized that Mensah did breach the constitution and they had to follow out the censure procedures. “I can’t sit here and vote against the constitution,” SGA Senator Ian Goodnow said. “If I vote against following the constitution, what am I saying?” Vermont State Rep. Kesha Ram said, that she disapproved of the SGA’s use of time dedicated to a trivial matter on Tuesdays meeting. “[The censure] is one of the least important things we will do this year,” Student Activities Chair Amanda Adams said. The SGA has breached the constitution numerous times in the past. The speaker’s agenda is rarely sent out two days prior to the meeting, as required in the constitution, Mensah said. The Finance Committee typically does not receive the material they need to make their reports by the required constitutional deadline, Chair of Finance Alex Mallea said. Senator Gavin Caster said the Senate needs to be aware of the precedent that they are setting. “Even though I see this censure as an unethical, unfair and hypocritical way to try and hold people more accountable to the constitution, I fully accept the censure,” Mensah said.