Temple Student Government established an Ethics Board last semester to hold its Executive Branch and Parliament accountable.
The Ethics Board — which consists of TSG’s Parliamentarian, Auditor General and Elections Commissioner — acts independently of both branches and began its work this summer. This new branch was one of Activate TU’s main campaign promises during the TSG election last spring.
The board is responsible for ensuring both branches of TSG follow the constitution and bylaws. Each of the three members of the Ethics Board will enforce this in different ways.
It is the Auditor General’s responsibility to draft and release a public memorandum explaining a constitutional infraction if a member or entity doesn’t follow the constitution or bylaws. The Parliamentarian and Elections Commissioner offer advice throughout this process.
One of the main actions taken by the Ethics Board this summer came in the form of a public memo written by Auditor General Morrease Leftwich Jr. about social media communication. The memo clarified when and how the Executive Branch can control the Ethics Board and Parliament’s external communications. The Executive Branch is allowed to provide oversight, but cannot stifle any external communications, Leftwich said.
Parliamentarian Jacob Kurtz and Leftwich were appointed by Parliament near the end of the spring semester. After their appointments, they began interviewing applicants for the Elections Commissioner seat.
Kurtz is responsible for drafting memos to the Executive Branch that convey the Ethics Board’s stance on issues outlined in the constitution. The main subject of the memos this summer was freshmen Parliament elections this fall, he said.
Kurtz and Leftwich drafted Ethics Board bylaws that would serve as a transition document for future members. The bylaws also provide ways for future Ethics Board members to change things as they see fit, Kurtz said.
The TSG constitution would still take precedence over the bylaws, he added.
Elections Commissioner Matthew Diamond was not appointed until the end of June, after Parliament was out of session for the semester. This is standard practice, as the Elections Commissioner can’t be appointed until after the Parliament and executive elections are complete. He said the rest of the Ethics Board and Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes helped him settle into his role, as he was not involved with TSG prior to his appointment.
Diamond’s primary focus is forming the Elections Committee and reviewing the elections code for clarity. He said he was motivated to do this after an incident regarding the interpretation of the elections code last spring when there was disagreement among members of the former Elections Committee.
Former Elections Commissioner Noah Goff wrote in an email obtained by The Temple News that Activate TU should have been disqualified from the race for the way it reported its finances, which he believed violated the elections code. The Elections Committee voted to allow the campaign to stay in the race.
Applications for the Elections Committee, advertised on Twitter, closed at the end of July. The committee was selected and finalized in early August.
“I want to make sure student body leaders get there fairly and honestly,” Diamond said. “How can we be sure they would follow the constitution and uphold the rules if they got to their seats in a questionable manner? I want to make sure to be there to protect the integrity of the elections.”
Editor’s note: A previous, online version of “TSG Ethic’s Board: A quick look” appeared online. It has been updated to reflect a more accurate, edited version.