GS Senator Ramond Curtis Faces Impeachment
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog recently received information that a procedure of impeachment has been started against current GS Senator Ramond Curtis by members of General Studies Student Council. A current member of the council and candidate at the recent GSSC election condemned Ramond’s actions during the elections and subsequently filed this impeachment process. This member has declined to comment until the next council meeting on Tuesday at 8:15pm.
Update, as of 4/11/2017, 10:46pm: Because of a required 3/4 majority vote for impeachment, Curtis will remain on the council. Twelve people voted in favor of his impeachment, and seven voted against.
During the week of campaigning, several members of GSSC, including several E-board members, publicly endorsed candidates on Facebook for the election. After these endorsements came out, Senator Ramond Curtis, in his official capacity, publicly condemned them in a post (see screenshot) that specifically denounced current GSSC President Larosa’s endorsement of two other members of GSSC for election: Dennis Zhao, current VP of communications who was running for President, and Raison Flor, current Chief of Policy who was running for VP of Policy.
It must be noted that at the last GSSC meeting, CEB commented that no members of GSSC can ever endorse candidates. However, they were willing to forgive any behavior that occurred due to the confusing aspect of CEB rules. Curtis’ own actions were scrutinized by the council, who was split over whether Curtis had been right to point out these wrongs. Some believed that including the names of candidates in the post jeopardized their chances at election. Others pointed out that Curtis had also helped candidates with their campaigns.
Grounds for Impeachment: GSSC Rules of Conduct
The proposal for impeachment cites Ramond’s public accusation of GSSC President Larosa and the implication of Dennis Zhao and Raisa Flor as grounds for impeachment. In the authors’ views, Ramond’s public accusation, in his official capacity as GS senator, is a “blatant abuse of his position on GSSC and the University Senate.” The author of this impeachment proposal also points to the fact that Ramond lacked proof for his accusations. He also claims that “Julian’s actions and my campaign have been vindicated by The Columbia Elections Board.”
He considered Curtis’ actions to be a violation of GSSC’s Constitution (Article III, Section 3), which states:
a. Every member of the GSSC must maintain the highest standard of conduct for the duration of his or her service. Council members will:
- i. Behave ethically and respectfully in pursuit of official duties.
- ii. Not abuse their authority in any way
- iii. Recognize that any disciplinary or legal charges incurred during his or her term of service that comes to the attention of the council could subject the member to disciplinary actions up to and including impeachment.
- iv. Will not speak or enter into agreement on behalf of the GSSC without explicit consent from relevant members of the council.
b. A member of the council acknowledges that he or she is representing the GS student body and the university, and that any violation of the GSSC Code of Conduct or the University Code of Conduct will be reported to the Student Life Office and will be considered grounds for impeachment.
Grounds for Impeachment: Violations of University Rules of Conduct
The author has also filed three violations of University Rules of Conduct. However, since the Columbia Administration has still not gotten back to him, he does not expand on the violations so as to avoid defaming Curtis. Other instances of misconduct were also enumerated in this proposal for impeachment (see full document).
In an email that was sent to Bwog, Curtis answered the proposal for impeachment, which had not been yet made public. In his rebuttal, he focused on the negative impact that this impeachment would have on the General Studies students themselves. He pointed out that “as per Article VI Section 6 Subsection c of the GSSC bylaws, if impeached, the University Senator will remain on the University Senate, while continuing to advocate for the needs of GS students.” Thus, an impeachment would only prevent him from communicating with GSSC, which would only have a negative effect on students. As he understands it, it is in the “best interest of GSSC and our students for the University Senator to sit on GSSC, giving our students more of a voice in affecting positive change.”
The Logistic of Impeachment
Some logistical issues stand in the way of this impeachment, however. It is important to note that according to Article 4 Section subsection c of the GSSC Constitution:
“Once the reports have been reviewed, impeachment proceedings will take place during the council’s next scheduled meeting. The member in question has the right to be present for all discussion and will be given the opportunity to defend him & or herself to the full council. A secret ballot will then be taken. If there is a ¾ majority consensus, the member will be dismissed from office.”
Thus, the concerns are:
- It is very rare in General Studies Student Council history that all members be present at meetings. If there are some missing members, does that mean the vote cannot take place?
- As we have seen with last week’s meeting, the council was split over their opinion of Curtis’ actions. A ¾ majority consensus is thereby anything but given.
Facebook post from Curtis last week:
The full impeachment letter: