A resolution to impeach the president and vice president was included in the Senate meeting’s agenda but never faced a vote
BY SAMI GIBBS, CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND KENDALL BARNHARDT, STAFF WRITER
Members of the 42nd Student Senate sponsored and co-sponsored a resolution in an attempt to impeach Student Body President Natalia Kanos and Student Body Vice President Veronica Mata at the Senate meeting held on Thursday.
Sponsored by Speaker Moses Hunsaker and co-sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Jillian Bennett, amongst others, the resolution was later stricken from the agenda in a rare, unanimous vote before an official vote took place on the resolution itself.
According to the resolution, the president and vice president (VP) are accused of “negligence” and “dereliction of duty.” The resolution states that Kanos and Mata “neglected” to appoint a “willing” senator to the Student Parking Board, provide guidance to the “inexperienced” Executive Cabinet members and advertise vacancies within the Executive Cabinet.
Sean Diment, a former senator that worked within the Student Government body, was the first of multiple gallery members to speak on the behalf of Kanos and Mata.
“There is always going to be mistakes that are made in the way people handle each other, but consequence with impeachment? Impeachment is entirely unnecessary in this situation,” Diment said.
Diment argued that impeachment was an overstep and should be taken into more consideration. He pushed for a sit-down between the Senate and the Executive Cabinet to hash out differences.
Other gallery members that spoke in support of the president and vice president included current Executive Cabinet secretaries.
Lauren Rodgers, undersecretary for Communications and Advertising, spoke on the lack of communication regarding the senators’ complaints of the president and VP.
“The issue of lack of advertisement could have been brought up to either myself, or the Public Relations Department in general,” asserted Rodgers.
Following the public session, in a point of personal privilege, Clerk Ellie Mange motioned to suspend the rules and strike the resolution.
“We’ve heard from the gallery and I think that should be reason enough that they came to this meeting today in vast numbers — more than I have ever seen,” Mange stated, adding, “I don’t want to waste anyone’s time any longer about this issue when I think we know what the correct direction is to take.”
Discussion and debate followed where the majority of senators noted their support for striking the resolution from the agenda.
“The student body has come here in large capacity and made their case. We, just like President Kanos, have been elected by the student body and in order for us to fulfill this duty, we should vote how the people we represent would want us to,” Sen. Zayd Hamid affirmed. Hamid was one of several co-sponsors for the resolution.
Some freshmen senators also voiced frustrations that they were not made aware of the resolution until recently before the meeting commenced.
“I understand that leaders of the senate felt it was necessary to plan this without freshmen senators in order for discretion … Instead we have freshmen blindsided by these accusations,” Freshman Sen. Olivia Nealon stated. She added, “The Senate’s willingness to move forward with this resolution, without an educated voting body, is unprofessional and unproductive.”
Sen. Jonah Hamman, another co-sponsor for the resolution, asserted during discussion and debate that, “[This resolution] was not rushed … and it was not a power move … and that’s easy to prove because if it was [a power move], it would have been done before we had new freshmen senators to vote.”
According to Hunsaker, “The primary motivation was a longstanding feeling of disorder and disorganization amongst a number of senate chairs, who expressed to me that they felt an ineffectiveness that had washed over Senate,” he stated.
“And I do not think we are above admitting that there are flawed considerations that have been made,” he added.
Speakers historically abstain from voting except in the case of a tie. Hunsaker voted yes to strike the resolution from the agenda, causing audible gasps from the gallery.
“My yes vote today was the sacrifice of a typical abstention of the speaker. My vote is in reaction and restoration in the spirit of democracy,” he said. “While I thought that we were on the right path [with the resolution], I see that we must go the way of the people.”
Maddie Portnoy was previously the secretary of Administrative and Financial Affairs until she was relieved from her position the same week. Portnoy had influence on the resolution and a few email interactions between Portnoy and Kanos were part of the appendices of the resolution.
“The chairs did not do anything to conspire behind their back and I don’t want it to affect their relationships going forward,” said Portnoy.
When asked about the impeachment process after the meeting, Mata said, “Everybody has a voice that needs to be heard … And as a person who made an oath to protect the Constitution of this school, I do respect that process.”
Mata also said that there should have been a face-to-face conversation about preparation for the new senators.
“I will say, I can do more and maybe I should have listened to side comments about people not being prepared,” Mata said.
According to the president and VP, they were both told by a senator about plans for impeachment the day before the Senate meeting.
“I did not expect this at all … I was taken aback hearing about [the resolution],” Kanos admitted.
“The most important thing is communication. If we are supposed to be the voice of the student body and we can’t even talk together, I don’t see how we will work,” said Kanos.