UCOSA Appoints New Supreme Court Justices
UCOSA President Stockton Duvall addresses attendees of the Feb. 19 UCOSA Congress meeting in the Will Rogers Room of the Nigh University Center. (Evelyn Stewart/The Vista)
A new slate of justices was appointed to the University of Central Oklahoma Student Association’s Supreme Court during last week’s UCOSA Congress meeting.
Freshmen Bryan Becker, Curtis Diaz, Sarah Faust, Karlee Ogden and Morgan Tarpley were selected by UCOSA President Stockton Duvall to fill the vacancies left by the previous Supreme Court justices.
“Basically, I chose ve freshmen who I believe are true to UCO, who love this campus and would always take a stand if there was a controversial issue and that they would always have the university’s best interest in mind,” Duvall said.
A lifetime appointment, barring resignation or impeachment, justices are responsible for deciding questions or concerns regarding UCOSA’s constitution, as well as the constitutions of all other recognized student organizations.
The Supreme Court also addresses any questions of accountability or transparency that Student Congress’ Accountability, Reform and Transparency Committee is unable to resolve, according to Duvall.
Despite their prominent role in deciding major issues on campus, the Supreme Court is a resource that is seldom used to solve disputes. The last time the Supreme Court addressed an issue was 2013, when they ruled on the eligibility of candidates to run for office within UCOSA.
Because of the unique limitations of the role, maintaining justices who are engaged and active often poses a difficulty for UCOSA, according to Cole Stanley, UCOSA advisor and assistant vice president for Student Affairs.
“UCOSA has been working hard this year to get a lot of gaps filled in,” Stanley said. “We have always had a Supreme Court, but through attrition and lack of interest, people dropped off.”
This was the case with the previous slate of justices, who, for various reasons, had expressed they were no longer interested in serving on the Supreme Court when Duvall had reached out to each of them, according to Stanley.
“This is a hard group, just because there is typically little for them to do and we don’t see them on a regular basis,” Stanley said. “So, we are going to work to keep this group of five more engaged and see if that helps with consistency.”
Congress also reviewed legislature that would limit the appointment of congressional committee chairs and vice chairs to active members of Senate. Currently, UCOSA statutes permit students who are not senators to serve in either position.
The measure would work to improve the functionality of committees and help ensure that committee chairs are engaged by requiring that they are active members of UCOSA, according to the bill’s author, Sen. Tate Atkinson.
“As is currently stated in our by-laws, a committee chair or vice chair do not have to be part of UCOSA itself,” said Atkinson. “This can cause some problems because the committee chair is unable to propose any legislation and would require the people within the committee to bring stuff to the floor.”
The bill also addressed establishing a procedure for the vice chair to head a committee during the absence of a committee chair during a regular meeting week, as well as the establishment of a process to remove a committee chair following three absences from regularly scheduled meetings.
Ultimately, the bill was tabled pending amendment and revision due to concerns raised by some senators that the bill might be too limiting by restricting committee chairs to active members rather than the most qualified applicant.
“My fear in passing this is that you are going to be shooting yourself in the foot because the people who are best qualified for the job are juniors and seniors, people who are trying to get jobs in the real world but also care about this [student] body very much,” said Sen. Jon Lowrey.
The Ken Ham controversy also surfaced again during the meeting, with the Student Alliance for Equality following up on the possibility of investigating Duvall’s claims that UCO’s Women’s Research Center and BGLTQ+ Student Center had attempted to bully him into rescinding Ham’s invitation to speak.
“Will UCOSA, as a whole, continue to support or stand by Stockton’s official statement that alleges bullying, considering there is no investigation being made into those allegations?” said SAFE President Rachel Watson.
While Duvall had said that he has not led an official complaint with the Office of Student Conduct or with any other office, he did confirm that he was planning on doing so.
When asked if Student Congress would retract their support from Duvall’s claim until the outcome of any official investigation, Senate Chair Remington Dean said he felt that the move would be likely to produce more difficulties.
“As I stated last week, I cannot speak for all the senators in here,” Dean said. “If you wanted to, we could put it to a vote, but I think it is a very unnecessary process, as it would then create a lot of unnecessary work and effort that we could be putting towards other things.”