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Artrice Pray issued an apology to APSU students in an email to The All State on Friday, Aug. 2, the day after a hearing with the Student Government Association Internal Affairs Committee that resulted in a vote of 2-to-1 to remove Pray from his elected seat as junior senator for the 2015-16 academic year.
Pray’s dismissal from SGA was preceded by an executive order signed by SGA President Will Roberts in response to Pray’s arrest in mid-June and involvement as a suspect in a criminal trial.
“I would like to formally apologize to my constituents and all those [who] voted for me as well as showed support during my campaign,” Pray said. “You all entrusted me with the responsibility of elevating the junior class.”
Pray expressed his desire to address “issues and obstacles that its members are facing and will face as we near an end to our undergraduate journey.”
Pray also said he will stay involved in the campus community despite losing his position.
“I will continue to be active in lobbying legislation and agreements that will benefit the junior class and the students [of APSU],” Pray said. “You all deserve the very best to represent you and your interests in the senate.”
Pray’s apology focused on representing student interests and addressed students directly.
“Unfortunately, in the eyes of the Internal Affairs Committee, I am unable to offer you [representation],” he said.
In response to the time it took to appeal his seat, Pray said he “fought valiantly every step of this vexatious process.”
Pray was arrested in mid-June and is now a suspect in a case involving three counts of vehicular burglary, one count of identity theft and one count of forgery.
According to affidavits filed by Clarksville Police Department Detective Dennis Honholt, “the defendant used a stolen Navy Federal Credit Union credit card to purchase a carton of Newport cigarettes for the amount of $56,” at an Exxon on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard.
The affidavit of the count of forgery states: “The defendant was identified on camera, used his own birthdate for the purchase and his vehicle was also on camera.”
The credit cards were allegedly stolen from a vehicle in the parking lot of Gateway Medical Center. During a court appearance in mid-August, Pray’s arraignment was scheduled for October.
Roberts signed Executive Order I in June, which removed Pray from his senate seat. The executive order amends the SGA bylaws to allow removal of any officeholder in SGA for “acts detrimental to [SGA].”
In response, Pray appealed his seat and was granted a trial with the Internal Affairs Committee.
Pray said he disagreed with the signing of the executive order while Roberts said he was acting in concern for the APSU student body.
“Things are not always as they appear,” Pray said. “This is a legal matter in question and I am by all means, presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.”
Roberts disagreed with accusations of having a personal agenda in signing the order.
“I have a responsibility to represent our students’ best interests and that includes ensuring the integrity of the student government,” Roberts said.
The Internal Affairs Committee consists of two Tribunal Justices, two senators and the chief justice serving as chair.
“Due to one of the Tribunal Justices being unable to attend the meeting, only 3 voting members were present, but we still had [a] quorum,” said Chief Justice Lucas Bearden. “Hearings proceed with the member that is called to the hearing being given a chance to speak to the members of the committee concerning their actions. Then the committee can ask questions of the member and finally the member is asked to leave and the committee deliberates on their decision.”
In an email interview with The All State, Roberts said his executive order addressed the issue because of its importance to the responsibilities of SGA members.
“[SGA] does not condone this behavior and never will,” Roberts said. “Every representative of SGA is held to a high standard that will not be ignored when it comes to behavior off campus.”
The seat for a junior senator position is currently vacant.
Freshmen and graduate student seats will be elected in September.
One seat for the College of Business is also vacant.