TEMPERS FLARE AS SA SENATOR FACES POSSIBLE IMPEACHMENT
Tempers flared last Wednesday night when a Student Association senate majority nudged Julia Alford, senator-at-large, closer to a possible impeachment from the board of finance.
Facing censure from 79 percent of the senate for three counts of ethics violations, impeachment proceedings in the SA Supreme Court passed by a 32-9-2 vote.
Following reports of slander, violating confidentiality, and acting without integrity, the ethics subcommittee closed the nearly month-long Alford investigation on Monday, determining that she should be removed from the board of finance.
Alford, claiming to lack knowledge about the call for impeachment, said the ethics subcommittee acted unfairly by not notifying her early enough to prepare a defense at the senate meeting.
Jillian Guerra, chair of the ethics subcommittee, said that Alford was notified promptly following the decision.
In Alford’s defense, five out of seven members of the board of finance rejected the senate’s call for impeachment.
Grant Hilsenrath, a board of finance member, fears that her possible removal would stall progress between the board of finance and student groups already working with Alford.
“This is just wrong,” said Hilsenrath. “This should’ve been solved on an individual level.”
When the case was introduced to the senate on Oct. 26, Alford revealed that she was under investigation for reportedly accusing an SA member of sexism. She was reprimanded by Guerra and Senate Chair, Jarrett Atilio, for publicly disclosing the investigation.
Alford reportedly slandered Board of Finance Chair and Senate Vice Chair, Austin Ostro, for unfounded claims the ethics subcommittee wrote in a proposal for Alford’s censure.
While denying claims, Alford fought against parliamentary procedure. Impeachment proceedings were voted on twice due to complaints which questioned the legality of the vote during executive session.
Acting as chair, Connor Dunleavy said that the voting process was legal. In Robert’s Rules of Order, proceedings in executive session are secret but are not restricted in any other way.
Questioning senate accountability further, Alford criticized the meeting’s use of secret ballot along with her dismissal from executive session.
“I genuinely feel like they just didn’t want to say things to my face,” Alford said.
SA Chief Justice Morgan Knudsen, interpreted Robert’s Rules of Order throughout the meeting as Alford challenged the rectitude — and at times the legality — of senate conduct.
“I wouldn’t say [secret ballot is] unethical, because really it’s following the rules,” Altilio said. “And since these are the rules that we’ve adopted, I’d argue that it would be unethical to not follow them.”
Prior to the senate decision, Alford questioned the legitimacy of legislative actions without a parliamentarian. In the SA bylaws, with consultation from the vice chair, the senate chair shall nominate a parliamentarian up for vote on senate floor no later than fall officer swear-ins.
The parliamentarian slot has not been filled since last academic year.
“It has been brought to our attention that some have an interest in there being a parliamentarian, so we’re currently looking into it,” Ostro said.
Ostro was one of five members on the board of finance eligible to take part in executive session. Despite an attempt to amend executive session to include the entire board of finance, the suggestion was shot down.
SA Vice President, Colin Manchester, argued that the involvement of non-senate members in executive session was unnecessary because their accounts were already recorded in the investigation.
Objecting to the ethic subcommittee’s findings, Charlotte Moller, a board of finance member, was disappointed in the senate’s decision to exclude non-senate board members. Moller maintained that the exclusion of Hilsenrath and herself prevented points of defense for Alford from being addressed.
“As board of finance members, we disagree with [this], so we feel like we should be able to express that and say that’s a flat lie written by someone who’s obviously in favor of this,” Moller said.