USG addresses invalid censure from prior meeting

On Tuesday, the Undergraduate Student Government Senate discussed and clarified an invalid motion made to indefinitely censure Vice President Blake Ackerman last week.

Ackerman was censured by senators after they received screenshots of online comments Ackerman made allegedly condoning hazing. He promptly left his chair for the remainder of the meeting once the censure was passed.

Parliamentarian Emily Donahue said the censure was incorrectly deemed “indefinite” and was reported as such in the Daily Trojan. Since a censure is not the same as removal or suspension, Donahue said the action voted on last week was invalid since censures cannot be indefinite.

Unlike what happened during last Tuesday’s meeting, a censure does not require a member of USG to leave their seat since there are no direct consequences associated with it, according to USG bylaws, Donahue further explained.

A valid censure would result in Ackerman temporarily yielding his chair to the speaker pro tempore, who would assume the vice president’s ability to censure. The vice president would then resume responsibilities immediately after the censure was issued.

“Because that language was used, the censure was invalid and [Ackerman] should have been returned to his seat,” Donahue said regarding the term “indefinite.”

The Senate addressed the mistakes made in last week’s meeting amid confusion from the audience, one of whom called the censure “petty politics.”

“All of us are trying to do our job as senators being a check for executive members and making sure that we’re all upholding the standards of integrity that we agreed to,” Sen. Meagan Lane said.

Due to the confusion, Ackerman explained that USC Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards and USG are not conducting investigations into the allegations against him.

USG only has authority over its own Bylaws, Constitution, Code of Ethics and Elections Code, and its authority does not include the ability to independently investigate a member of USG, according to Donahue.

“Hazing and other issues that potentially were brought up [against Ackerman] are outside of our realm, so those shouldn’t and will not be discussed in this area,” Donahue said. “We’re all students and we don’t have authority over those [issues].”

According to USG’s bylaws, a formal complaint must be hand delivered to the speaker pro tempore indicating a violation of one of the realms of USG jurisdiction stated above for any kind of action within USG to be taken against Ackerman.

No official action or investigation against Ackerman was announced by time of publication.