Temple Student Government’s Ethics Board was redesigned for the 2018-19 academic year due to previous unequal distribution of power in its auditor general position.
The role of auditor general was replaced by the Constitutionality Committee, which consists of three positions: chief judge, vice chief judge and judge. The group will serve to appeal cases and overturn decisions of all other board members with a majority vote.
The Ethics Board, created under the 2017-18 administration, serves as the judicial branch of TSG that promotes transparency and holds TSG members accountable, according to the TSG constitution. In its first year, the board voted on issues like impeachment and changes to the constitution.
Morrease Leftwich Jr., the chief judge and former auditor general, said he needed more pushback from other members of TSG to check his actions in his former position. On multiple occasions he felt there was a need for more oversight, he added.
“Now it’s more effective,” Leftwich said. “There are more voices within the Ethics Board, and we need a majority vote to overturn anything.”
The branch’s previous structure consisted of three positions: auditor general, parliamentarian and elections commissioner. The parliamentarian, which was removed under the 2018-19 administration, oversaw the constitutionality of Parliament’s actions, and the elections commissioner oversaw all election-related matters.
In addition to the Constitutionality Committee are the roles of executive counselor, parliamentary counselor, elections commissioner and student liaison. Each are responsible for a different part of TSG: executive, parliamentary, elections and student voice, respectively. The student liaison position has not yet been appointed.
After restructuring, all Ethics Board positions are new other than the elections commissioner.
Vice Chief Judge Matthew Diamond served as elections commissioner last year before resigning after being brought up on impeachment charges for various alleged constitutional infractions.
“I want to see us become a more impactful organization,” he said. “We now have more people in the Ethics Board, making it more efficient with more voices. I personally hope to see an increase of [the] Ethics Board’s judge count in the future, as this will add for our ability to represent the voices of Temple students.”
Jacob Kurtz, a former parliamentarian, said he is skeptical of the changes, yet hopeful for the future of the board.
“When I would talk with other student government organizations in the area, they would look at me funny when I told them our Ethics Board was a new concept,” Kurtz said. “For many, it had always been a constant.”
“They did a lot of good stuff last year, and everything we did wasn’t usually seen,” he added. “Because some things weren’t fully conceptualized, not a lot of people understood what was good about the progress.”
Leftwich hopes the changes will elevate the efficiency of the Ethics Board.
“The Ethics Board is new, and it seems like no one respects it,” Leftwich said. “Now that more people have a voice in the decision-making process, the branch will gain more legitimacy and involvement within the Temple community.”
Diamond said with more people comes more room for progress.
“With more voices, we can make more change,” Diamond said. “Now we can tell students the Ethics Board will be more accountable.”
“We have a long way to go, but we’re on the right track,” Leftwich added.