Justices appointed to SGA judicial

Campus News

Brooke J. Freundschuh, Managing Editor

 Ernest Elphage, MacKenna Gosart, Savana Robertson and Lauren Vance have been appointed as justices to the University of North Alabama’s Student Government Association’s (SGA) judicial branch.

The judicial branch of SGA functions for SGA as the Supreme Court does for the United States government. It is ultimately their job to make sure that the executive and legislative branches are operating in compliance with the Code of Laws. Justice candidates for the following school year were selected and nominated by the members of this year’s executive branch. Each nominee had to be voted in by the majority of the senate. 

This year’s nominees were Elphage, Gosart, Robertson, Vance and current SGA President, Jacob Statom. Gosart, who currently serves as the senate advisor of Freshman Forum, was appointed as Chief Justice, the most senior role in the judicial system. Statom was the only nominee not appointed by the senate. Statom was asked by The Flor-Ala if he had any statements on not being appointed and if he planned to still participate in SGA at any capacity in the upcoming academic year. 

“The answer to both of your questions is no,” Statom said. 

The majority for Statom was only set off by one vote. Senators were given the option to vote “Yes,” “No” or “Abstain.” Three senators, Elphage, Garret Statom and Grace Hafner abstained from voting for or against Statom. Garret Statom and Hafner are both running for executive positions for the following year. Senators Abby Eggemeyer, Amber Sandvig, Howard Cooper, John Shinholster, RJ Myers, Mackenzie Martin, Ritu Patel and Aliyah McCary voted against Statom, while senators MacKenna Gosart, Ethan Criddle, Hannah Benson, Anna Wamble, Ansley Brooks, Madison Reese, Maci Allen and Savanna Robertson voted yes. 

These votes differ slightly from who voted opposed to and in favor of Statom’s impeachment last September. Shinholster and Myers, who are running for President and Vice president respectively, voted against impeaching Statom, but against his appointment to the judicial branch.

 “There’s still a lot of students with a negative image of [Statom], Senator Howard Cooper said. “I thought it was an absolutely horrible idea to try and appoint him for judicial, given everything that went down last summer. Having him still be a part of senate would just be not a good look, especially with the rebuild. A lot of candidates and senators are trying to get past everything that went on back then. Having him in that position, in judicial especially, where you have to be very inpartial, I personally could not see him as being impartial.”

Senators Cooper and McCary voted “no” for MacKenna Gosart. Sandvig abstained from voting for or against Gosart. 

“With MacKenna [Gosart], knowing that she voted to keep Jake [Statom] in office during the trial, I couldn’t see myself voting to put her in judicial, especially Chief Justice, because knowing how she voted, I don’t see how she could be impartial, especially in that position.” Cooper said. 

Cooper, however, voted “yes” for Robertson, who also voted against impeaching Statom in September. Nominees Vance and Robertson recieved all “yes” votes, aside from Elphage, who abstained from voting for or against them. Elphage was the only nominee to recieve all “yes” votes from senators. Senators who were nominated for judicial did have the opportunity to vote for themselves. Elphage, Gosart and Robertson all took advantage of that opportunity by voting for themselves. 

Elphage states that he was unaware of how many spots were available for judicial, so he voted against some nominees to ensure that he was not voting himself out of a spot. 

“I was fine with MacKenna [Gosart] as well as myself,” Elphage said. “I thought there were limited spots. I was just trying to help my future self get the position. I didn’t know there were all five spots, so everyone would be able to do it. I just wanted to try to make sure that I gave myself a good position. It would be bad if I said yes to everyone and I lost by one vote.It would have been different if I had not abstained, so that was my only reason”

Elphage was nominated for judicial by Ethan Dempsey, the current SGA treasurer. Elphage had expressed some interest in judicial when he informed a fellow senator that his time commitments for the following school year, which will be his senior year, would not allow him to run for a senate seat. Judicial, however, works better with his schedule. A few weeks after expressing interest, he recieved an email from Dempsey, stating that he had secured his nomination. Elphage says that Dempsey’s email allowed him to prepare to make a speech in senate accepting his nomination and stating why he would make a good justice to his fellow senators who would ultimately determine if he would get the position. He shares that Dempsey as well as several other senators stood up to endorse him.

“It was very surprising,” Elphage said. “It was one of those moments where you think nice things, but you never really say it. It was kind of an ego booster and made me feel better about life. 

In his role in judicial, Elphage, as well as his fellow justices will address violations of the Code of Laws, such as the one allegedly violated by President Statom in 2021. Judicial will also play a role in the absences and tardies of the senators. Elphage looks forward to gaining the experience of using his judgment in these situations. 

Elphage says that to prepare for this role, he will be talking to former justices who have graduated or are in their fifth year, as well as taking under the wing of Gosart to ensure that he is trained properly. He states that he will also consult Youtube for help on how to act in such a position. 

“I plan to make the best of the position,” Elphage said. “As a political science major, I think it’s a big help for my future self. That’s why I want to use this position to further my experience and education when it comes to the whole political scope, and to do that, I have to put my all into it and make sure I get the best out of it.”

Courtesy of Secretary Warner