By John Connolly
The Student Government Association (SGA) announced that President Anne St. Amant vetoed three pieces of legislation that had been passed in the SGA senate, at their meeting on Monday, February 22nd.
Among the vetoed items is a resolution regarding the pending agreement with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMTA) addressing discounted Metro fares for Catholic University students. Another item urged the administration to consider increasing the number of individual therapy sessions offered by the counseling center. The final vetoed resolution called for revisions to the university’s policy regarding burden of proof. The vetoed items are three of only five resolutions the senate has passed since August.
In an email sent to the members of the senate, Vice President James Benedek said that St. Amant made the decision to veto “after much time and deliberation.” Benedek, who voiced his complete agreement to St. Amant’s actions, said that the vetoes will “actually strengthen every resolution” that will come up in the future and urged senators not to be discouraged by this move.
The vetoes angered many in the senate. Freshman Jimmy Harrington, who crafted the Metro legislation, said the decision was disappointing.
“I respect the executives right to veto, but I believe these vetoes were egregious and inexplicable,” said Harrington, while addressing the senate on Monday evening.
Harrington added that the move “represents an overreaching attempt by the executive branch to legislate.” He also said the vetoes showed “a lack of cohesiveness by the executive,” as Vice President Benedek voted in favor of some of the resolutions.
Much of Monday’s two hour meeting involved heated arguments between Benedek and various senators who opposed the executive’s actions. After the rules of debate were suspended to allow her to speak, St. Amant explained that she vetoed the resolutions due to the lack of pertinent information and factual evidence within them. St. Amant said this researched information would help her make a better case when presenting the issues to the administration. She urged the senate to re-submit the resolutions with new information.
Senior class senator Evan Gillise expressed that while he disagreed with the vetoes, he does not think they were used negatively.
“I do not think [St. Amant] is acting with the intention of harming the student body- in fact she is advocating for greater information on the issues so she can be a better, more well informed, proponent of these pieces of legislation when meeting with members of the administration,” Gillise said.
While it is within the executive’s power to veto any piece of legislation, some senators feel that the actions of St. Amant and Benedek have damaged the image and work of the Student Government Association.
Social work senator Roisin Gibbons said that this move was pushing the senate back to the starting line.
“I felt that we were getting somewhere this semester after we began passing legislation. But having Anne [St. Amant] veto everything is just sending us right back to square zero. But personally, I feel she is sending us past square zero,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons also said that she is fearful of the future work of the senate.
“I don’t even want to bring anything up to be voted on because I am nervous it will get shot down like these ones were,” Gibbons said.
Freshman Isaiah Burroughs, who serves as ANC Commissioner for the Brookland-CUA area, had pushed for the Metro agreement and devoted much time and effort with both Senator Harrington and St. Amant to help pass his work onto the administration. Burroughs felt disappointment and shock at the veto.
“I was very surprised by it. But I respect her veto power,” said Burroughs, who plans to have the agreement re-submitted to the senate and passed.
Burroughs said that there is a possibility that the veto will delay implementation of the discounted fare plan, which was expected to begin in the fall of this year.
The senate’s next meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday, March 7, 2016. Meetings are open to the public and normally take place in the Caldwell auditorium.