On Sept. 15, the Board of Appeals released its most recent decision on

Board of Appeals Rules on Almási’s Petition

On Sept. 15, the Board of Appeals (BoA) released its most recent decision Bence Almási v General Assembly.

Sep 18, 2016

On Sept. 15, the Board of Appeals released its most recent decision on Bence Almási v General Assembly. Almási’s case was the third heard by the BoA since its establishment in fall 2015. This was also the first case heard by new members junior Yan Li and senior Belmin Mostic, who were appointed at the GA on Sept. 4, following the graduation and resignation of previous members Massimiliano Valli and sophomore Nicolaj Thor respectively. The recent BoA case responded to a petition by then-freshman Almási, which was filed on April 18.
The Board identified three cases in the petition, which it aimed to address in its decision:
“The relationship between [NYU Abu Dhabi Student Government] and NYU [Student Senator Council]; and the appropriateness of diverging definitions of a full-time student in [Student Government] Constitution and Registrar policy, and, finally, whether the GA was successful in interpreting the Constitution.”
The case diverged from the two other petitions responded to by the BoA last year. In re Juliana Bello, the BoA dismissed alumna Bello’s petition on the basis that the Board cannot make a decision regarding hypothetical questions. And in Karan v Chair of the Library Advisory Committee, the BoA saw a notably more polemical case involving board-ordered injunctions, petitions to dismiss and over 30 supporting documents, 24 of which were redacted.
Almási was determined to have standing in the decision-finding in his petition:
“The petitioner challenges the constitutionality of the GA’s motion to interpret the constitution and is affected by the result of the aforementioned motion in that he is convinced that under current circumstances LOA [Leave of Absence] students may run for office.”
The BoA clarified this section during an interview in response to whether Almási was in fact a third party without standing, responding, “He was a member of the GA.”
In terms of broadly answering the three questions the Board found salient in the case, the Board held in the first that the NYUAD Student Government is not subject to the rulings of the NYU Student Senators Council finding:
“The [NYU Abu Dhabi Student Government] does not have the obligation to follow the rules and policies nor the bylaws of NYU [Student Senators Council], which is an external party rather than a higher legal power.”
In the second question, the BoA found that the rules governing students as students of NYUAD differ from rules governing students as members of the Student Government.
“The GA is bound by the Registrar policies as academically-enrolled students of NYUAD, they are not bound by these policies in their capacity as [Student Government] members. Thus, the decision-making process of the GA falls into a separate plane of governance,” the BoA stated in their unanimous decision.
Finally, the BoA dedicated most of the text to answering the third question on the validity and success of the stated GAs in interpreting the Constitution. On this topic, the BoA finds that while GAs of April 2015 and March 2016 are capable of morphing meaning, the two cited in this case did not amend the constitution, and therefore do not give a clear interpretation of the matter.
The majority decision addresses the interpretive power of the most recent March 2016 vote, stating, “While the vote itself was legitimate, it did not interpret the Constitution.”
The decision further concludes the third question, stating, “The term members of the Student Body [are] highly contentious and requires further interpretation. We encourage other branches of our government to give binding power to the preference of the Student Body. However, today, there is no reason for us to rule on the inclusion or exclusion of the students on Leave of Absence from being ‘members of the Student Body.’”
“I am mostly satisfied with the decision even though I submitted it five months ago, but since two members of the BoA left, a decision couldn’t be made,” wrote Almási in an email to The Gazelle, when asked for a comment on the recent decision.
“The first decision [made by the BoA] could be attacked in my opinion, but since this [Student Government] is not as serious … i.e. they barely deal with academic issues, rather the closure of the emergency doors ... as the ones I saw, [I think] it is pointless to attack it,” continued Almási. “Also, it is [pointless to attack] because many relations of the [Student Government] … e.g. relation to [Student Senators Council], or to NYUAD … are not being regulated, that’s why the first two points were rejected. I find the document really detailed and precise, and I would like to thank the hard work of the Board of Appeals.”
Almási currently serves as the Student Government Elections Commissioner.
The BoA still has one petition pending. The date for the next decision is uncertain, coming only, in the words of the BoA, “as soon as we reach a decision.” The full text of the next decision will also be available exclusively on OrgSync.
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