Estis confesses to violating SGA Constitution


University of Louisiana System

SWEAR TO UPHOLD: SGA President Ethan Estis speaks at Convocation and is sworn in as SGA president in front of the University of Louisiana System

Maggie Eubanks, Co-Managing News Editor

ULM’s Student Government Association President Ethan Estis admitted at the last Senate meeting on Tuesday to violating SGA’s constitution and his oath as president when he directly interfered in the legislative process. One week earlier, on Jan. 24, the Senate debated on four bills.

The first three bills passed with a majority of votes, and the fourth was tabled for discussion. Bills 1 and 2 moved some bylaws into the constitution, Bill 3 made room in the Senate for more student representatives and Bill 4 abolished the Associate Senate. Later that week, Bills 1-3 were vetoed by Estis, and Bill 4 was pulled by the senator who proposed it. Estis initially said the bills were pulled due to constitutional errors.

“Specifically, the phrases at the end of the bills: ‘This will go into effect after it passes the Senate and gains the president’s signature.” That’s actually not true,” Estis said. “They have to go to a vote within the student body.”

But he clarified the situation at the meeting and claimed he was at fault.

“I took it upon myself to write these bills,” Estis said, “and in my capacity, I technically can’t write the bills, but I did.”

He then said he vetoed the bills because he “took it upon” himself to write the bills despite him saying he “knew it was wrong to do so.”

This action breached the SGA Constitution, which states that executive officers must remain impartial and out of legislative affairs. Straying from the constitution and infringing the bylaws is considered a dereliction of duty and could be enough for the Senate to call for a judicial meeting and consider impeachment. Estis said he wanted to create change, but he became impatient and that instead of going through proper channels, he wrote the bills himself and asked some of the senators to put their names on the bills.

Confusion arose after the bills were introduced at the previous meeting. Senators were unable to fully answer questions about the bills that they introduced. Estis’ confession cleared up the uncertainty caused by the senators being unable to explain the bills they claimed to have authored. Estis said that any animosity was to be directed at him and not the senators he asked to sign their names.

Senators had mixed reactions to Estis’ admission of guilt.

While some admired him for being honest with them, some, like Vice President David Hernandez, were disappointed.

“I was absolutely furious with what happened last week,” Hernandez said to Estis. “You swore to uphold your constitution, and what happened last week was not upholding your oath of office.”

Hernandez went on the say that Estis’ actions reflect how SGA has lost sight of its true goal.

“At the end of the day, we’re here to serve the students, but for the past year or so, the phrase students serving students has not been on our minds,” Hernandez said. “What are you here for if you’re not doing that?”

SGA’s mission statement says it is devoted to the student body and lays out a foundation where each senator “promotes the well-being of the student body.” Hernandez told everyone in the room that serving students starts with knowing and upholding the constitution and bylaws.

Meghan Olinger, director of student advocacy and accountability and one of SGA’s faculty sponsors said it is time for SGA to get back to the governing portion mentioned in its title. “We’ve talked a lot about the shift that has happened in SGA over the past few years,” Olinger said. “We have somehow lost what student government means.”

It is now up to SGA senators to decide whether Estis will face any consequences, such as an impeachment process. According to the SGA Constitution, any member of the Senate can bring impeachment charges against another member or executive officer if a majority vote is reached by the Department of Research and Judicial Affairs or at least half of the Student Senate signs a petition in favor of the impeachment. If this occurs and Estis is found responsible for the charges against him, he will be forced to resign.

SGA does not have a formal meeting planned for the next two weeks, so it is not likely this issue will be resolved quickly.