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Freshman nomineesineligible for Court

Nov. 16, 1999


Staff Writer

Two of Student Body President Jon Rolph's nominees for Student Court do not meet the requirements set forth in the constitution of the Baylor student body.

The constitution states that nominees must '...have been in attendance at Baylor University for two complete semesters prior to appointment.'

The nominees must also have a minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale and cannot hold membership in any other branch of student government.

Rene Rodriguez, a Midland freshman; B.J. Johnson, an Alpharetta, Ga., freshman; Sam Mazzu, a Dayton sophomore; and Birdie McBride, a Houston junior, were nominated by Rolph to fill the open positions in Student Court during Thursday's Student Congress meeting. Because Rodriguez and Johnson are freshmen and have not attended Baylor for 'two complete semesters,' their nomination is in violation of the constitution's requirements, listed in Article 4, Section 2, Paragraph G.

Eighteen students expressed interest in joining Student Court, and were interviewed for the vacant positions. There are four openings this year. It is the responsibility of the student body president to interview students and then nominate the number needed for the 10-member Student Court. The court is responsible for interpreting controversies in the constitution, as well as hearing disputes between students and organizations and over traffic violations issued by the Baylor Department of Public Safety.

Under the rules, the nominees must be presented at the same time before Student Congress during the president's student body officer report. After the nominees are reviewed by the Student Congress operations and finance committee, they must also be accepted by a two-thirds vote by Student Congress.

Rolph said he was unaware of all the requirements necessary to be nominated.

'I had talked to [Dub Oliver, student government adviser] and looked at the constitution, and the only requirement I was aware of was that the nominees couldn't already be a member of student government,' Rolph said. 'Obviously, they don't meet the requirements though.'

Rolph said he realizes he made a mistake and his prepared to rectify it.

'I absolutely made a mistake, and I take full responsibility for it. I hate making a mistake that involves other people's emotions,' Rolph said.

R.J. Sikes, an Austin sophomore, who is chairman of the operations and finance committee, said Rolph contacted him Monday afternoon, apparently after realizing the mistake, and asked him to switch out the names of the ineligible nominees with two that were eligible. However, this violates the constitution, as all nominees must be presented at the same time in front of Student Congress.

'He [Rolph] tried to cover up his mistake by asking me to switch out the names that he presented during [Thursday's] Student Congress meeting,' Sikes said.

But, Rolph said he thought switching the names would be the easiest way to correct the problem, and he did not realize, again, it was against the rules of the Constitution.

'Honestly, I just thought I would do this the most efficient way,' Rolph said. 'But if that's what the constitution says, then we won't do it that way. I don't think this is scandalous at all, I'm just trying to do my job. I have not even acted on giving R.J. the two names yet.'

Rolph said he notified Rodriguez and Johnson of the mistake and apologized to them after being made aware of the violation. He will now begin to find two new students to nominate for the position.

'I think it's ridiculous that freshmen can't be nominated,' Johnson said. 'Jon Rolph was looking for qualified students, and he found them. I don't think Baylor is prepared to accept the fact that freshmen can be judicious.'

Rodriguez said he understands how Rolph could make the mistake.

'I don't think it's a lack of competence. Maybe he just didn't see that section of the Constitution,' Rodriguez said. 'But, I understand that there are guidelines and rules that must be followed.'

'I can't think that [Rolph] did it maliciously. It has nothing to do with Rolph being a poor leader, and everything to do with Baylor needing to rewrite its constitution. We can't expect a full-time student to know every detail of the constitution,' Johnson said.

However, as stated in the constitution, it is the responsibility of the president to know and 'enforce the constitution,' and after elected, the president must take an oath to that effect.