Students’ Association vice president moves to remove senator


Gracie Terrall, News Editor (She/Her)

This story was updated Oct. 28, 2020.


During the Oct. 19 Students’ Association meeting, Vice President Ries Bruley moved to initiate the removal proceedings for Sen. Christopher Svarstad for violating item three of the South Dakota State University Students’ Association Code of Ethics. 

Item three of the Code of Ethics states that senators must “discuss professional matters, especially those concerning colleagues, in a professional manner.” 

The removal proceedings follow the Oct. 5 Senate meeting, during which Svarstad reacted to Communications Chair Blake Pulse’s motion to postpone Resolution 20-11-R, which Svarstad sponsored. 

“Him and I have a verbal agreement and he said he would co-sponsor this and at the last minute, he pulled out,” Svarstad said. “He didn’t communicate with me and then he ran to somebody else. I don’t know why he thinks that he wants to postpone it.”

President Hattie Seten reminded Svarstad that debates must remain germane and attacks against other members of the Senate were prohibited; however, Svarstad continued. 

“Blake Pulse violated my due process, he is being pretty dishonest to tell you the truth,” Svarstad said. 

However, according to Pulse, they merely had differing opinions on how the resolution should look which led to him moving to postpone the resolution. 

“What [Svarstad] doesn’t share is that I brought up concerns I had with the resolution and things I wanted to see changed before I co-sponsored, but it was submitted without those changes,” Pulse said. “What is happening is personal attacks coming from him towards me based on differing opinions.”

SA follows Robert’s Rules of Order, which states that if someone is accused, they have a right to due process, which includes being informed of the charge and given time to prepare for their defense, according to Bruley. Svarstad has a week to prepare his rebuttal for the executive session Monday Oct. 26.

The exchange between Svarstad and Pulse was not the sole instance for why Bruley moved to initiate the removal process. 

“Members of the Senate are responsible for upholding the Code of Ethics when it comes to a few different issues,” Bruley said. “A few of those issues would be social media posts about members of the Senate or Students’ Association, emails sent by a senator or on behalf of a senator and just general ways that we conduct ourselves on campus.”

Although these are some of the Code of Ethics guidelines Senators must follow, it was not disclosed which ones Svarstad potentially violated. 

According to Article V, Section 3 of SA’s bylaws, after a senator seconds the motion to initiate removal proceedings, in this case, Government Affairs Chair Zebadiah Johnson, “the chair must send written notification to the Senator that removal proceedings have been initiated against them within three days.”

Svarstad’s removal hearing will be held during next week’s SA meeting Oct. 26 in an executive session, not open to the public. Svarstad will have the opportunity to defend himself before the Senate body. There must be a three-fourths majority vote for the removal to become official.