SGA President James Wells issued a statement about a senate amendment Jan. 25 in the Unified Media Lab. Wells said he believes the amendment is aimed at him. Casey Smith // DN
SGA president calls new legislation 'blatant attack'
Student Government Association President James Wells issued a striking statement about a student senate amendment that he believes is aimed at stripping him of power.
The senate introduced legislation Jan. 25 that would remove Wells out of the student senate completely.
The president can't exercise any power over the legislative branch. However, Wells said he is obligated to inform the senate about any of the decisions that he is making.
This means Wells' ex-officio status is in jeopardy. Wells said nine other schools in the Mid-American Conference have provisions in place for student body presidents to have this status, which Senator Alex DeLong refutes.
"They don't," Delong said. "No other school in the MAC conference has a separation of power clause, we're the only school that has that."
Wells specifically mentioned senator DeLong and said the legislation "seems like a personal attack."
"I honestly just felt like it might come eventually," DeLong said. "I wasn't truthfully mad, just I saw that there was a good amount of misinformation that he put out."
Senator DeLong authored the bill, Wells said, and other similar efforts have also been made to undermine the executive board.
"This doesn't solve issues that they want resolved," Wells said. "This is a distraction taken to a level unseen before in our student government."
During a press conference, Wells took aim at senate leadership, which he said has constantly tried to undermine his power as president and called the legislation a "distraction."
"There is no need to waste time," Wells said. "This is a blatant attack on me and the office I hold."
DeLong said that statement was "not true at all."
"We took into account what other schools roughly had," DeLong said. "What our constitution said and bylaws said and what we believed to be appropriate."
Wells said problems first began halfway through the fall semester and has escalated since, now in the form of legislation.
"Anytime I've exercised any power that is in the bylaws, in the constitution — it has ticked off conversations with our rules and constitution committee," Wells said. "Of saying that I'm abusing my power, I have continued the same actions that presidents before me have done so."
Wells also specifically mentioned the Rules and Constitution Committee, which he said has abused its powers to change the governing documents.
On Thursday night, Wells filed two challenges in the Student Judicial Court concerning changes made to the governing document and the constitutionality of members in the Rules and Constitution committee.
Members appointed to committees must be approved by the senate, and Wells said that there is no record of that happening.
"There is a vote that should take place on nominees to various positions," Wells said in a filing obtained by the Daily News. "This then causes into question the action of this committee."
Wells also said that he has the power to veto or sign off on the changes. Since he was not allowed the chance, Wells said he is now calling into question the legislation's validity.
"I am asking the court to declare the actions of Student senate unconstitutional," Wells said. "And to order a reversal of changes that did not prescribe to the rules."
DeLong said that most of the senate is in agreement with the recent legislation — however, Wells said that the process is being "hijacked by only a few."
DeLong said that the only senators that seemed opposed to the new legislation are senators Kam Bontrager, Trevor Holland and Alexis Torrence.
DeLong feels that Wells' public statement was a personal attack against him. Wells approached DeLong at the beginning of the year to join SGA but the relationship fell apart, he said.
"He did reach out to me and get me involved in senate," DeLong said. "As the semester went on, it felt like the connection that we might have initially had separated."