Yays, Nays, & Abstains: IUPUI GPSG Amends Constitution Under Questionable Circumstances

Under the guise of amending minutes from their November meeting, the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) passed a constitutional amendment without actually voting to do so.

In November, the GPSG discussed sweeping changes to the language of their constitution. These changes were proposed as Amendment 9-15 “Constitution Clarification.” This amendment included 78 changes to the GPSG constitution. Some of the changes were as innocuous as fixing a typo while others altered the duties and responsibilities of members. The minutes from this meeting stated that there was no vote held for Amendment 9-15.

Last night the GPSG General Assembly convened for their February meeting and their first order of business was to approve an amendment to those November minutes. Specifically, the GPSG wanted to amend the minutes to reflect that Amendment 9-15 was voted on and approved by the GPSG.

GPSG Secretary Maria Lesch (formerly Maria Harlan) stood in front of the General Assembly and claimed that she had made a mistake on the minutes from the November meeting. Lesch said she had not recorded that the amendment was passed and thus needed approval to amend the minutes to reflect such. However, multiple members of the GPSG did not remember Amendment 9-15 getting approval. In fact, they didn’t remember voting on Amendment 9-15 at all.

"I was pretty sure we tabled it," said GPSG Treasurer Matthew Lawson. "The reason why I'm absolutely sure of it is because if we were to vote on an amendment for the constitution we would have record of it. There's no record of yays, nays, and abstains, and that's my issue."

Even President Anthony Greco, standing at the front of the Assembly, stated multiple times that he remembered the amendment being tabled as well.

Despite being unable to come to a consensus on whether a vote even took place in November, the GPSG moved forward with a vote to amend their November minutes to say they had voted on and approved Amendment 9-15.

Secretary Lesch instructed members of the General Assembly to vote "yes" if they remembered approving the amendment; vote “no” if they remembered tabling the amendment; and abstain from voting if they didn't remember at all.

One assembly member asked Secretary Lesch if a vote to amend the minutes would essentially be a vote to pass Amendment 9-15. Lesch told them it would.

The vote came back 6 “yes,” 2 “no,” and 8 abstaining.

After initially coupling the "no" and abstaining votes, the General Assembly moved to define an abstaining vote as one that doesn't count. The result? The GPSG had enough votes to amend the minutes, thus amending their constitution without a vote.

"I don't have an issue with anybody. I think that, as an organization, we have done some very good things," said GPSG Treasurer Lawson. "We've raised a lot of money for charitable organizations, we've hosted a lot of events, we're here for graduate students. I think that everybody does their job. I don't have any issue with anyone on the executive board. I just have an issue with how things are done."