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Controversy over now-former senator extends beyond removal

This article is part two of two in an investigative report on the removal of Adam Guercio from SG Senate and the resulting issues. To read part one, please see Removed SG senator contests decision.

Late last semester, the Interfraternity Council senator accumulated the maximum of three unexcused absences allowed. The speaker of the Student Government Senate notified him that he would be removed via email without sending the required warning after two unexcused absences.

Shortly after John Constantinide emailed Adam Guercio of his three absences and that he would be removed, the speaker recommended that the now-former senator resign his seat in order to not be penalized. By being removed, Guercio would be-and currently is-not allowed to run for an SG office for one academic year.

Constantinide, as speaker, appointed Guercio as a designate for Greek Outreach to work with the Public Relations committee. The Council of Chairs unanimously disapproved of his appointment, which Constantinide said was completely constitutional.

The Council of Chairs is comprised of the following senators: College of Arts and Sciences Senator Adela Ghadimi (University Affairs), FEC senator Jacqueline Collazo (Public Relations), Senior Senator Michele James (Academic Affairs) and Sophomore Senator Michael Bookman (Rules and Finanace).

In addition, Constantinide said the Council told him he should not have offered Guercio a chance to resign before being removed. Citing “loose” statutes and the lack of a timeframe, Constantinide said the time between the third absence and removal of a senator is essentially left up to the speaker. Nevertheless, he changed course and rescinded Guercio’s resignation after hearing their opposition.

In all this, Guercio believes he is being made an example of, since he said these set of circumstances are unique. He added that certain senators, who he declined to name, did not like the fact that he was in a relationship with SG President Annette Ponnock while in senate.

Constantinide confirmed such sentiments, saying that at least five senators-who he declined to name-were against the fact that Guercio had “specific access to information via Annette before that information would be transmitted to the Senate,” and sometimes to he and Speaker Pro Tempore Brandon Gross.

Constantinide and Guercio also had a personal friendship. They were one of dozens of students symbolically wed last year at the “Marriage on The Rock,” an event aimed to show support for equal rights for gay and lesbian couples.

Guercio said he still respects Constantinide, but feels the series of events since November has negatively affected their friendship.

“We’re still friends, but it’s definitely more strained,” Guercio said.

Though they have had occasional contact, Constantinide agreed regarding their friendship and said they are essentially not on speaking terms.

“I can’t say I regret doing what I have done, but I had to do it,” Constantinide said, adding that it would not have been in line with his role as speaker if he bluntly went against the council of chairs.

“I still respect him, even after the trial, even after all that,” Constantinide added. “I would recommend him to [SG] positions because I know he’s a good person. I’m not going to let three absences alter my view about someone’s quality of leadership.”

Guercio met with Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for Student Affairs, on Feb. 26 to discuss his situation. Senate, though under Whitely’s purview, can take no direction action in the case.

Whitely later spoke with Constantinde, encouraging him to look at all the statutes currently on the books, but told The Miami Hurricane via phone any changes are completely up to SG.

Soon thereafter, Constantinide presented two bills he co-authored-a rarity for the speaker-with Hecht Senator Manny Rivero, who was absent, at the Feb. 28 Senate meeting. In relation to Guercio, the bills would allow senators removed due to excessive absences to only be ineligible for one semester instead of one academic year. The changes would not affect the rules regard senators removed for disciplinary or other more serious offenses.

“I don’t think he’s doing it to quiet me, I think he’s doing it after seeing the questions my situation raised,” Guercio said, adding that he thinks they are great bills that are long overdue. “I think [they]would address a lot of issues the Student Government has faced. I think it would do a lot of good and no harm.”

Before the bills were introduced, Guercio told The Hurricane he would like to run for Senate again next year, but has no other political ambitions on campus.

Senate passed the two measures Wednesday and, at the time of publication, require Ponnock’s signature before moving on to Whitely for approval since the bills include constitutional changes.

Gross, the speaker pro-tempore, said the changes would not go in to effect until passing the next two stages, noting that it will be probably 20 days before Whitely approves it.

Greg Linch may be contacted at g.linch@umiami.edu.

March 23, 2007

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.