The University of Maryland’s GSG voted Friday to clarify language about its impeachment proceedings and include more gender inclusive language in its bylaws, as well as add a position to its executive board, among other changes.
The committee also added information explicitly stating what should happen if a party resigns during their impeachment investigation.
“Obviously we’ve been through the wringer this year,” said Katie Brown, Graduate Student Government Public Relations Vice President. “Everybody really wanted to make sure in the future we could avoid these types of situations, but also if these situations arise, we can make it easier for people to know what they need to do to solve the issues they come across.”
In November, former GSG president Stephanie Cork resigned after the group voted to launch an impeachment investigation on the grounds of her potential misuse of funds. Assembly members voted to accept the findings of the Governance Committee’s investigation and impeached Cork the following month.
The GSG typically forms a committee to review its bylaws every five years, but in January, the group voted to implement this process earlier than usual because members had ideas for reform, Brown said.
The proposed changes originally banned impeached members indefinitely from attending the group’s meetings if they resign before being impeached, but assembly members voted to strike this line in a 14-2 vote, with five abstentions.
“This person is still a graduate student, still paying graduate student fees,” Chief of Staff Caden Fabbi said. “I think this might be taking things a step too far.”
Graduate school Assistant Dean Jeffrey Franke, the group’s faculty advisor, said barring a student from attending a public meeting would be entering into “dangerous territory.”
GSG President Michael Goodman also proposed a bill that removed gendered language from the bylaws to make them more gender inclusive. The group voted 16-0 with one abstention in favor of changing the bylaws’ “he” and “she” pronouns to “they.”
This decision comes after the university’s Student Government Association changed language in its bylaws from “freshman” to “first year” in order to promote gender inclusivity.
Goodman said this change was in line with its decision in March to add a diversity and inclusion vice president to its executive board, calling it a “further commitment to equity and inclusion.”
“If there was a student who identified as non-binary or who didn’t observe he/she pronouns, and they wanted to get involved in GSG, what kind of message does that send that we have he/she all throughout our bylaws?” he said.
The group also voted to add a government affairs vice president to its executive board, 12-3 with two abstentions.
Fabbi, the author of the bill, said this is to ensure the political advocacy work he did for graduate students during his two-year tenure as chief of staff will continue after he graduates by creating a position explicitly for it.
The assembly will hold midterm elections to fill this position, as well as the public relations vice president position at the June meeting, Brown said.
Fabbi said he worked “at every level” of government to champion graduate student causes, in addition to organizing rallies and lobbying days, but this was beyond his duties as chief of staff.
“I’ve used a lot of time and resources to do those things, so it will be nice to have that institutionalized,” Fabbi said.
Fabbi originally proposed this bill during the April GSG meeting, but the group failed to meet quorum with half an hour left.