Dylan Hughes (COL ’19), former chair of the Georgetown University Student Association Ethics and Oversight Committee, challenged the constitutionality of GUSA Constitutional Council Chief Justice William Morris’ (COL ’19) extended tenure in an email April 17.

Hughes was one of two parties named in a suit filed by Rowan Saydlowski (COL ’21) and Chris Castaldi-Moller (SFS ’21) to the Constitutional Council on April 14 seeking to overturn the results of last week’s GU272 referendum. (Full Disclosure: Saydlowski currently serves on The Hoya’s editorial board.) The Constitutional Council, GUSA’s interpretive body, is set to hear arguments from all parties named in the complaint in a meeting Wednesday evening.

Justices sitting on the Constitutional Council during their graduation year must immediately tender their resignations once the results of that year’s executive elections are certified, according to GUSA bylaws. President Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) and Vice President Aleida Olvera (COL ’20) were sworn in March 16, and thus Morris is holding the position of chief justice illegally, according to Hughes.

AMBER GILLETTE/THE HOYA | Georgetown University Student Association Constitutional Council Chief Justice William Morris (COL ’19) faces the challenge to his extended tenure ahead of an April 17 council hearing on the constitutionality of the GU272 referendum held last week.

While the Constitutional Council will reach a decision on the case after Easter break, that decision might be illegitimate because of Morris’ wrongful position, according to Hughes.

“We fear any decision on this case could be held as invalid because the quorum on the Council may be illegal,” Hughes wrote in the email. “We want to make sure this situation is remedied before the hearing and drafting and publication of the opinion.”

Students voted overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum to establish a semesterly fee that would go toward a fund allocated to descendants of the GU272, the 272 enslaved people sold by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in 1838 to financially sustain the university.

Morris sent a three-page response email defending his position as chief justice an hour after Hughes’ email April 17. Morris volunteered to resign in March but reached an agreement with former GUSA President Juan Martinez (SFS ’20) and Francis that he would maintain his position until the conclusion of the senate election and GU272 referendum, according to his email.

A consensus was reached among Martinez, Francis and Hughes that Morris would extend his term until the end of the semester, according to Morris.

“Collectively, we determined that it would be best for me to stay on as Chief Justice to handle any issues that would arise, with the understanding that I would resign following the conclusion of all election/referendum issues this spring,” Morris wrote.

Morris planned to resign April 14 when the new senate was sworn in but decided to stay after Saydlowski and Castaldi-Moller filed their suit, according to Morris. He is now committed to overseeing the rest of the suit and and does not intend to resign, Morris wrote.

“If I legitimately believed that I was unfit to hold this office, I would still resign immediately. Yet as I have outlined, I have no biases, no questions of competency, and no ignorance of this situation,” Morris wrote. “Up to Saturday, I was prepared to resign at a moment’s notice. But since accepting this case, I have become committed to seeing it through.”

Continuing the delay or undermining the hearing of the case on technical questions of his position would be unfair to students, according to Morris.

“I know that this case touches a lot of issues that people are very passionate about; as such, regardless of our decision, many students will be unsatisfied with the outcome,” Morris wrote. “But they still deserve an outcome. This case should not be delayed or postponed based on technicalities.”

One Comment

  1. The Grammar Police says:

    One doesn’t tenure their resignation. One tenders their resignation.

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