The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday April 12th

Speaker Pro Tempore of Undergraduate Senate claims discrimination by Elizabeth Adkins in committee removal

On Oct. 9, Kennith Echeverria, the speaker pro tempore in the Undergraduate Senate, filed a complaint against Student Body President Elizabeth Adkins and the Undergraduate Executive Branch saying he was discriminated against when his acceptance to the Academic Affairs Committee was rescinded.

“In the email that they sent me, they indicated that it would not be feasible for me to serve on two different branches of the same undergraduate student government because there would be a large conflict of interest,” Echeverria said.

He said he was unsure what that conflict of interest would be. Echeverria said he scheduled a meeting with the Undergraduate Executive Branch chief of staff after he received the email to get a clear answer, but was unable to get a coherent response.

“I’ve served on the Academic Affairs Committee for three years, and this would have been my fourth year,” Echeverria said. “I served on the Academic Affairs Committee and also on the legislative branch last year, so there is practice being able to serve in both branches.”

Jacob Blount, the secretary and spokesperson for the Undergraduate Executive Branch, said the decision in which a member of student government is not allowed to hold two offices simultaneously is mandated by the Student Code of Governance.

Section 105 outlines the Dual Office Prohibition of the student code. It states, "No person shall hold more than one Student Government position concurrently, unless that position is specifically exempt from this Section or the Constitution of the Student Body." 

“The reason his offer was rescinded was because the student code mandates that he would be violating the Dual Office Prohibition section of the student code,” Blount said.

Echeverria said he thinks the Executive Branch is attempting to set the precedent that someone in the Legislative Branch cannot serve on the Executive Branch, which is not the case.

He said he hopes the Supreme Court voids and reverses the decision. He also said ensuring that other senators can also serve on the executive branch is a key part of this case.

Tarik J. Woods, chair of the Rules and Judiciary Committee in the Senate, said the only reason cited in the email sent to Echeverria that revoked his acceptance was that he should not serve in two branches, which is illegal.

“The basis of this case is that the executive branch ignored the code and how it clearly outlines that senators are able to serve in two branches,” Woods said.

Woods said the primary goal of this case is that future executive branches will not be able to keep elected representatives from joining committees.

“I think that that’s the exact reason we are elected for,” Woods said. “To be on different boards and organizations and be inside of organizations so that we can relay students’ voices.”

Blount said the only motive behind the decision to revoke Echeverria's acceptance was to uphold the student code. 

“I want to reiterate that our decision to remove Kennith from the committee was made to adhere the student code,” Blount said. “We recognize the fault that we took in offering the position, and then rescinding it as soon as we realized we violated the student code.”

Adkins was unavailable for comment.

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