Turmoil in the Student Government Association

Disclaimer: March 17, 2022
All members of SGA were advised by the SGA advisor to not speak with WT student media. All information was obtained from the affected party, Bryan Garcia, and the SEES email sent to all current students. 

On March 7 in the Senate Chamber of the Jack B. Kelley Student Center, Bryan Garcia became the first Student Body President at West Texas A&M University to be impeached.

An email sent by the Office of the Vice President for Student, Engagement and Success to all current students on Wednesday, March 9 outlined charges made by the Student Government Association (SGA) Internal Affairs Committee against Garcia:

  • Defamation of candidate
  • Unconstitutional Student Body Address
  • Disregard of fall 2021 Freshman Senator-Admissions joint meeting

Students have a collective voice through the SGA. SGA serves as a liaison between local and state government, University administration and the public.

“I actually appealed this,” said Bryan Garcia, junior health sciences major. “[SGA] told me because [the charges are] so vague, the senators can deem what is impeachable.”

Information about the impeachment process is outlined in the SGA Constitution, Section 10(e).

According to the SGA Constitution, “The articles of impeachment must be presented to the Senate in their session and shall be signed by 1/3 of the total membership of the Senate. Such articles shall be referred to the Internal Affairs Committee of the Senate and should a majority of the committee vote for impeachment, the officer shall be impeached.”

The charges brought forward by the Internal Affairs Committee are then voted on to either remove the impeached candidate or keep them in office.

“The big [charge] is the defamation of candidate,” Garcia said. “Somebody basically just passed along that I talked negatively about someone. I’m getting impeached with no evidence of that.”

Information about the charges will be heard by the Student Senate before their vote to either keep or remove Garcia.

“The Student Body Address, it just says in the constitution, you need to give that by the third meeting,” Garcia said. “It’s not a special speech or anything. I tried to make it one and then my advisor said, ‘No, you can just say what we’re doing for the year.’ I gave it at our fourth meeting instead of our third.”

The third charge comes from a new requirement for the Student Body President.

“I took [Freshman Senators to the Senate Chamber] three weeks ago,” Garcia said. “You’re supposed to take them once a semester and I didn’t take them last fall. I just forgot. It’s one of those things that’s really new in the constitution. That’s one of the newest things that we’ve added.”

When looking at comparisons to other universities’ impeachment process, Texas State University impeached their president in 2018 for the first time as well. However, the SGA reasoning behind impeaching their Student Body President was for the use of Student Government social media accounts to call for the defunding of their university newspaper after the publishing of a controversial column that attacked whiteness. He was then found guilty on all six articles of impeachment and was removed from office.

This comparison between Texas State University and WT shows that the three charges brought against President Garcia were minor mistakes.

The impeachment process was actually started a couple months ago, in addition to this semester.

“I basically got threatened with impeachment last fall semester,” Garcia said. “I know that somebody never got far because there was nothing that was impeachable.”

Student Body President Bryan Garcia (left) gives a speech on September 2, 2021 in front of the Engineering and Computer Science Building at the announcement of the One West campaign with Dr. Todd Rasberry, vice president for philanthropy and external relations (center) and WT President Walter V. Wendler (right). (Photo/Chip Chandler)

“The thing about [the impeachment] is that now we have to focus on a trial,” Garcia said. “I am planning a mental health town hall that Wednesday, which is two days after the trial.”

Seeing as the impeachment process takes up a portion of the limited time the SGA convenes, the dedication to the process for an impeachment appears like a backward attempt to make SGA better for the student body.

The work that President Garcia has helped with includes making sure that the university-wide lunch break wasn’t removed by changes made by the WT administration for fixing the classroom utilization rate. He also coordinated with the WT administration to get a webpage that can be used to get information about any professional school. The most recent success for President Garcia, as well as SGA, was introducing Bird scooters to campus.

“I would love for anybody to come out Monday, March 21 at 4:30 p.m. in the Senate Chamber if they’d like to support me,” Garcia said.