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UISG ousts Rishabh Nath following charges

BY KRISTEN EAST | OCTOBER 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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One University of Iowa Student Government senator is calling for a change in policy following his removal.

Former Sen. Rishabh Nath was removed from his position Oct. 10 followingfirst-degree harassment and assault charges, both aggravated misdemeanors.

Speaker of the Senate Nic Pottebaum said UISG doesn't have a specific policy for senators facing criminal charges or misdemeanors. Senators are instead required to sign a code of conduct and Pottebaum said it was his decision to relieve UI junior Nath of his duties, contending that the charges were "unbecoming" for a senator.

Nath said he doesn't believe the decision to remove a senator should be left to one person.

"To be a UISG senator, you have to be elected by the student body," he said. "I feel like the only fair way to be released is if they voted me off. There should be some sort of policy that the only way to be removed is to have the people vote."

According to a complaint from Iowa City police, Nath, 20, was allegedly fooling around with friends when he started to use a knife as a sword to stab and beat up on one of his roommate's bedroom doors on Sept. 20.

Nath then allegedly threatened his friend by holding the knife against his throat and pressing him up against the bathroom sink. The complaint said the man feared for his life.

Nath said his removal was premature.

"There's no black and white," Nath said, noting that he no longer lives with the roommate who filed the complaint. "All of these are alleged charges. I haven't been proven guilty on any of these charges. They can be dropped or overturned. It could be tomorrow, or it could be a year from now."

UISG President Elliot Higgins said if a UISG member faces charges or misdemeanors, the speaker of the Senate has the authority to release senators, while he, as president, decides the fate of executive board members.

"There have been incidents in which senators and executives break the law, but nothing quite like this," Higgins said. "We evaluate every situation on its own, individual circumstances."

Nath also said he felt his removal is unfair because other UISG members have received tickets in the past.

"I do not believe it was a fair decision just because there are so many members and executives that do have tickets — some with numerous tickets, actually," he said.

Nath plans to approach the Student Judicial Court within the next week or two to get his Senate removal repealed. He also said he plans on running for UISG again in the spring.

"I don't know if anyone's tried to fight against it," he said. "I definitely do plan on going through the student judicial review, in which they can overturn the decision, and I can get back in my seat."

Three alternative senators are chosen at the beginning of the year once all Senate seats are filled, and one is expected to fill Nath's seat.

"We have a staggering system," Pottebaum said. "If someone were to drop out, we can bring [alternative senators] in."


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