The Judicial Board is holding a trial today to determine the legitimacy of the Hurricane Relief Bill passed by the House of Student Representatives.A preliminary hearing was held Friday to decide if a trial was necessary, said Chief Justice Jared Heathman.
The Judicial Board is the final interpreter of the Student Body Code, said Heathman, a senior biology major.
Rep. Thomas Guidry, of the College of Sciences and Engineering, filed a complaint about the bill last week. Guidry, a junior computer science information major, said the bill violates the charitable contributions clause in the Student Body Code.
The code states: “No charitable contributions shall be made from the student body fund. Charitable contributions include, but are not limited to, payments made to charitable organizations.”
“This bill should not have even passed through exec,” Guidry said. “The way it is written now, the constitution does not allow any money from the student body fund to be given to organizations or individuals.”
The charitable contributions clause was written in 2004 by SGA Chief of Staff Sebastian Moleski, who also helped write the Hurricane Relief Bill.
Moleski, a senior international economics major, said the clause was added to make sure money from the student body fund was used directly for the student body. Moleski said the bill does not conflict with the Student Body Code and said the spirit of the charitable contributions clause was misunderstood.
“If we give the money to charitable organizations, we are limiting the effect we have on the TCU community,” Moleski said. “In this case, it’s going directly to TCU students.”
Guidry said he only questions the bill’s legality, not its purpose.
“As a Louisiana native, I understand there are students in need,” Guidry said. “But, the House shouldn’t follow only the rules it wants to. It needs to enforce everything equally.”
Until the Judicial Board rules on the case, no funds will be disbursed, though applications are still being accepted, Heathman said. At least four students have been granted money, he said.
In his complaint, Guidry proposed that the charitable contributions clause be rewritten to be more clear.
Moleski said that if the Hurricane Relief Bill is ruled unconstitutional, he will rewrite the charitable contributions clause. It would take less than two weeks to pass, he said.
“I don’t see how it will help to have students wait a week and a half for something they need now,” Moleski said.
The Hurricane Relief Bill, first introduced to the House two weeks ago, has been approved by the House of Student Representatives twice. It established a $10,000 emergency relief fund available to students directly affected by Hurricane Katrina.