Tension filled the room last Wednesday at the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting. SGA discussed the possible impeachment of five members for attendance violations.
Nadia Gorski, SGA executive vice president and acting vice president of legal and governmental affairs, presented five bills of legislation “to impeach and move to impeachment trial” of five SGA members.
The five members – Joseph Faulknor, freshman class president, Roy Dean Johnson, junior senator-at large, Tiffany Meredith, sophomore class secretary, LaTasha Riddick, freshman class vice president and Octavia Smith, senator of culture and society – will be tried.
According to SGA’s constitution, “impeachment shall be defined as a formal process of bringing charges to a member of the SGA in order to remove that member from his/her office.”
Chris Portera, SGA president, and Gorski stressed that the bills to be voted on during the meeting were only to agree that there was enough evidence to go to a trial, and that the vote was not to remove any member from office.
Once a bill was passed, the member in question would then have an impeachment trial. At this time, evidence will be presented and discussions will take place on the violations.
During the trial, a vote will be held for the potential removal of the member from his/her position.
Despite these repeated explanations from Gorski and Portera that this was not the time for evidence to be debated, each impeachment bill was met with disagreement.
Many SGA members questioned the specifics of each bill, as well as the general impeachment process.
Jesse Place, speaker of the senate, informed members that those who were being brought to an impeachment trial were notified that they had accumulated the maximum number of absences.
After an additional absence, members were then notified a second time and asked to resign (which is at the discretion of the president), and then, if another absence was accumulated, a third notification was sent out to the member, this time informing them of the impeachment.
In addition to these notifications, SGA established a new system online where members could monitor their attendance, giving them an additional way to know if and when they were approaching any violations.
Place and Gorski said that the new record-keeping system, in effect this semester, allowed the executive board to be absolutely certain of general body and internal committee meeting absences.
Place said that last semester every member was given “the benefit of the doubt” that they were not violating any attendance bylaws, since they did acknowledge that the records kept were “less than perfect.”
Johnson had another question regarding the validity over what SGA considered excused versus unexcused absences.
His claim was that because he, for example, was switched to an internal committee that was only his second choice, it did not fit in with his schedule which prevented him for attending meetings.
Place said that it was up to the discretion of the executive board or internal committee chair to decide if missed meetings were excused or unexcused.
Portera said that since he has been with SGA, no member has been removed from office following a verdict in an impeachment trial.
All five members in question will face an impeachment trial at an upcoming meeting.