Undergraduate Student Government President and Vice President Truman Fritz and Rose Ritch are being called to resign following a controversial election and tenure as well as recent posts on social media alleging bigoted behavior. Some students have called for the resignation of the entire executive cabinet. USG Senators are still debating whether or not to move forward with the impeachment process. But what would this look like? And what does this mean for students?

What is USG?

The Undergraduate Student Government is a group of elected and appointed students who are meant to represent student interest and serve as a liaison between students and administrators. There are three branches: Judicial, Legislative and Executive.

The Undergraduate Student Government Organizational Chart. (Image courtesy of the USG website.)
The Undergraduate Student Government Organizational Chart. (Image courtesy of the USG website.)

In February, reporter Christian Colmenares spoke to students about the purpose of USG, and why all students should take USG elections seriously.

Voter turnout for USG elections has been notoriously low for years, with approximately 24% of undergraduate students voting in this year’s election.

Who is elected and who is appointed?

Students elect senators and a presidential ticket. Students in member organizations — such as BSA and Concerts Committee — elect their directors, who serve on USG under the Programing Department in the Executive Branch.

The remaining Executive Officers (excluding the Speaker of the Senate, who is elected by senators) are appointed by the president and vice president and confirmed by the Senate. This includes, “the Legislative Branch’s Committee Chairs, the Funding Department’s Directors, the Communication Department’s Directors, the appointed Programming Department’s Directors, the Parliamentarian, and the Secretary,” according to the USG Bylaws.

Members of the Judicial Branch are appointed by the president, with no Senate confirmation.

What constitutes an impeachable offense?

Any violation of the USG Constitution, Bylaws or USC Code of Ethics.

Did Fritz or Ritch violate the USG Constitution, Bylaws or USC Code of Ethics?

Additionally, Fritz could be found in violation of the USC Code of Ethics, which states:

We nurture an environment of mutual respect and tolerance. As members of the USC community, we treat everyone with respect and dignity, even when the values, beliefs, behavior, or background of a person or group is repugnant to us. This last is one of the bedrocks of ethical behavior at USC and the basis of civil discourse within our academic community. Because we are responsible not only for ourselves but also for others, we speak out against hatred and bigotry whenever and wherever we find them.

USC senior Abeer Tijani, who circulated a petition calling for the resignation of Fritz and Ritch, outlined the Bylaws she believes were violated by the ticket in an email to the USG Senate.

What does the impeachment process look like?

To impeach the president, vice president, or an officer, a complaint can be filed with the Speaker of the Senate. To impeach a senator, complaints must be filed to the USG Vice President. Once someone has formally called for impeachment, an impeachment trial will automatically start. The Senate has 10 academic days to reach a decision, with a five-sixths majority vote needed to impeach. Any and all decisions will be public and transparent.

Can a whole cabinet be removed?

Sure. Any undergraduate student can file a complaint against a USG Senator or Officer. But there would need to be proof of violations of the USG Constitution, Bylaws or USC Code of Ethics. The Executive Cabinet includes the President, Vice President, Chief of Staff, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Communications Officer, Chief Programming Officer and Chief Diversity Officer.

If Fritz and/or Ritch is removed, who would take their place?

If Fritz is impeached, Ritch would be president. The Speaker of the Senate is next in line for vice president. If both president and vice president are removed from office, the Speaker of the Senate will become president. A vice president will be elected by the Senate from the Senate.

Updated June 30, 2020 at 8:12 PM: The story was updated to clarify the impeachment process and include an updated USG logo.