ESC Finally Gets An Impeachment Right (Sort of)
Written by Bwog Staff
Every Tuesday, Bwog brings you a recap of the previous night’s Engineering Student Council (ESC) meeting. This week was…interesting, to say the least. Luckily, fresh Bwogger and seasoned SEAS student Krithika Kuppusamy stepped in to cover it.
The ESC President, Aida Lu (SEAS ’19), has officially been removed from office, after successful impeachment during the general body meeting yesterday.
At last week’s meeting, Montana St. Pierre (2019 Class Rep) moved to impeach Aida in the middle of the Professional Development Representative’s discussion. This may recall Montana’s similar move to impeach Austen Paris (the ex-VP of Finance) at the end of last semester.
Section IV. A. b of the ESC Constitution states that “the executive board is expected to exercise proper judgement before calling a member for formal review,” and Section IV. B. b. i. states that “the impeached member must be informed of the motion for impeachment.” At the time of last semester’s impeachment motion against Paris, President Lu and VP Qamar stated that the impeachment being motioned for in a public meeting fulfilled the second statute. Last week, when faced with a very similar move to impeachment, Lu recused herself from discussion after a speechless six seconds.
After about 10 minutes of reviewing its agenda, ESC removed media personnel from the room to hold a private 2.5 hour impeachment hearing, at the end of which it was revealed that President Lu had been impeached and replaced with Interim President Ben Barton (formerly VP Campus Life) who would hold the position until the general election cycle in April. Nothing useful was said regarding who will fill the now-vacant VP Campus Life position and by when.
As stated in Article IV, Section 3 of the ESC Constitution, a special impeachment committee, comprising of one rep from each class council and two members from the E-Board, presented the results of its investigative process during the hearing. Two members of the Election Commission were also present at the impeachment proceedings, apparently giving their testimonies – although their role was unclear, as again, the meeting was made private.
During the process, Lu was also sent outside, at one point even removed from outside of Lerner Satow Room and told to sit elsewhere. Finally she was allowed in to give her own testimony before a vote was held much later. The council then received the 2/3 majority needed to successfully (surprisingly) impeach. A council member I spoke with recalled that Lu “[wasn’t] aware of the motion [in advance], and neither were a good number of people.“
Council members stated that for now, the reasons for Lu’s impeachment were closed, and that only the announcement will be currently made public.
Impeaching a president and not releasing the reasons as to why to the public student body seems both silly and rings of unaccountability. Additionally, the constitutional road to impeachment has certain contradictions – according to Section IV. B. a. “Grounds for impeachment include any conduct that could result in a formal review.” While I am still waiting back to hear if a formal review process was held, it does beg the question whether debating and reconciling differences with the President occurred prior to jumping straight into an impeachment procedure. It’s important to note that while the VP Finance resigned last semester rather than go through this process, it did bring up some confusion regarding the impeachment policy and triggered a constitutional review. With this information, it again begs the question whether such a process was made public and if so, can the student body continue to hold the council accountable if there is such constitutional flexibility?
Having two impeachments in one year (especially of the president) is somewhat unheard of (we checked) and does not reflect well on the student council’s image. This brings up several constitutional questions – whether proper judgment was exercised and what constitutes as proper judgement to move towards impeachment? What kind of precedent does this set for future councils? And how can newly elected candidates feel comfortable about the stability of their position? And most importantly, why has so much time been spent into 50/50 successful impeachments instead of focusing on issues of campus life?
Update: ESC detailed its reasons for impeaching Aida in a statement addressed to SEAS students, officially confirming Ben Barton as interim President. It can be read here.
Lerner via Bwog Archives