Editor’s note: this article originally appeared on theeaglecoronavirusproject.com, a separate website created by Eagle staff at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020. Articles from that website have been migrated to The Eagle’s main site and backdated with the dates they were originally published in order to allow readers to access them more easily.
On March 14, Student Government President Angela Chen and Speaker of the Undergraduate Senate Jeremy Ward declared a state of exception over the organization. Following the University's decision to move classes online for the rest of the semester and remove students from their on-campus housing, the change will allow SG to continue to function without regular senate meetings or day-to-day work.
SG’s current bylaws require senate meetings to take place in person, but the state of exception will supersede these rules and allow for the senate to continue its work without physically meeting. The SG bylaws allow for a state of exception to be declared in “a situation of exceptional nature.”
“When there are events that the speaker and the AUSG president deem to be exceptional, they can declare a state of exception ... It allows the president to issue executive orders that they wouldn't be able to do because of the bylaws, and allows me, the speaker, to be able to issue legislative orders,” Ward told The Eagle in an interview.
According to the SG bylaws, a state of exception can last for 14 days. After the period ends, the president will go through removal proceedings and a vote of no confidence will take place against the speaker of the senate. Ward said that the current state of exception will be ended after 13 days to avoid the removal of himself and Chen, and it is likely that another will be activated after that.
The last time a state of exception happened was in 2016 when the judicial board put an injunction over an election result. The president and speaker called a state of exception to override it.
Ward said that senators and members of the executive board will be advocating for the needs of students as they undergo the challenges posed by moving to online learning and being displaced from University housing.
Senators are currently working on bills for internal work and resolutions for things outside of the senate’s control, allowing senators to voice concerns on behalf of the student body. Ward also said that he expects them to be passed this week or the beginning of next week.
“Right now the senate is working on doing as much as we can,” Ward said.
Executive orders or legislation that is passed during this time will be made fully available to students, according to the state of exception letter that Chen and Ward sent out in an email to members of SG.
Ward and the rest of SG are also focused on making sure that the transition from this semester to next semester goes smoothly.
“We're having to shift a couple of things around this semester to accommodate the situation we're in now that we fully expect next semester to go on without a hitch,” Ward said.
At the end of the state of exception, another letter will be issued where Ward and Chen will report what progress has been made.
“At this time, we ask students to remain safe, remain as calm as possible, and utilize all possible resources they can to assist them at this difficult time,” Chen and Ward said in their letter.