The GSSC Impeachment: It Might Have Counted!

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Hot off yesterday’s impeachment of an ESC member, Bwog just got off the phone with GSSC President Niko Cunningham, who may or may not have just been impeached.

According to Cunnigham, tonight’s proceedings went down something like this: Towards the end of the GSSC meeting, after Dean of General Students Mary McGee had already left, someone on council had suddenly made a motion to impeach Cunningham. This may seem like deja vu from last week’s motion to impeach Cunningham, but according to the embattled president, this week’s proceedings were unconstitutional and therefore they shouldn’t count.

Cunningham explained that as soon as the council began to vote on the impeachment and handed out slips of paper (with which to vote, exercise democracy, enjoy freedom, etc.), he got up and left the room. “I immediately got up and walked out,” Cunningham said. “[GSSC] needed 16 members to have quorum and those devils only had 15 when I walked out.”

Further quasi-evidence of the lack of quorum rests in the slips of democracy paper themselves, as Cunningham points out that there were only fifteen slips of paper. GSSC requires two-thirds of its members to be present and, as Cunningham is wont to point out, 15 members does not two-thirds make. “They’re idiots, otherwise they would have realized this.”

Cunningham also says that after he left the meeting, he knew that “only the devils remained”, meaning that the council members who voted affirmatively to impeach Cunningham last week were all present at tonight’s vote, while Cunningham supporters were nowhere to be found. (See Cunningham’s own handy Maps of Injustice™ below.) “They’re like ravenous dogs, every single one of them. There are just 12 people who won’t let this go.”

Bwog asked Cunningham what was going to happen now, to which he replied: “I am the student body president.” However, Brody Berg, GSSC VP of Communications, confirmed the impeachment in an email to Bwog, tersely stating “We confirm.”




  1. aw sheeit  

    niko cunningham is one smarmy dude, i tell you that much.

  2. jansport  

    Wow, looks like Bwog really went digging for an objective account of the meeting.

  3. i think  

    that GSSC needs to stop blaming its President for all of its troubles. As a CC student, this is only serving to show me reasons to be even more reluctant to collaborate with GS organizations. The fact that GSSC can't get it together reflects badly on all of its students.

  4. well

    i'm pretty sure according to robert's rules, you would need to call a count for a quorum.

  5. ...  

    cunningham isn't as cunning as he thinks. he's really not too much more than a slimeball.

  6. don  

    niko -- i beg you -- please, for the love of all that is good in the world, resign. regardless of this, your first loss is as good as a vote of no confidence. the senior class president is off talking about his dong on spec blogs, only to be discovered by ivy gate. just please step down. both of you. your actions are really hurting the student body right now.

  7. great story  

    i'm glad we have smarmy scumballs like this. i've never paid more attention to the student councils. let the impeachment wars continue!

  8. wow

    i can barely tell how serious this post is. I mean, I believe it, but it reads like a joke. Which is apropos.

  9. Well  

    He does have a point. 15/23 is not more than 66.67%. I mean, I'm sure they can just impeach him next week if they've got 12 votes in favor, but it's pretty clear to me that he isn't out of office yet.

  10. I second that motion

    Commentariat definitely broke this first, step up your game Bwogsters

  11. FYI  

    For those who think this reflects badly on GS or they're just blaming Cunningham for everything, there's a lot more to the situation then what Niko tells. To make the situation worse, he is often the one speaking out about it.

    He was brought up for impeachment again for violating the GSSC Constitution again. When one of his cohorts did not get his intent to run turned into the GS Elections Committee, he formed a Judicial Committee to overrule their enforcement of the rules. Furthermore, other students that fell into this same situation were not instated as candidates.

    He continues to abuse his powers, mislead and misrepresent the council and student body, and (in my opinion) has utterly failed at his job.

    While he may be right about not having a quorum, he is also guilty of breaking rules/protocols by leaving the meeting before its conclusion. Furthermore, his supporters (for the record they are still outnumbered) should have been at the meeting anyway.

    If you want a real glimpse of how things have gone, use the GS Lounge link on the left and read the minutes from past meetings (not sure if they go back far enough to see the really catty stuff). There is a concerted effort to keep control of Council workings in the hands of a few and the remaining members are continually rebuffed. When possibilities of impropriety have been raised, one of these members always says they will have to investigate, but findings are never reported in the following meetings.

    Oh yeah, and good luck to Dean McGee. Our loss is probably her gain with the way things look right now.

    • Huwhat?  

      How do you impeach someone for breaking the constitution WHILE BREAKING THE CONSTITUTION YOURSELF IN ORDER TO DO IT? I'm getting whiplash following these arguments.

      • @ Huwhat?  

        I never said it was right to break the constitution to impeach the guy who is continually breaking it. I was just providing the backdrop for what has led to all of this.

        The difference is, when he's being held to task he's going to enforce the constitutional rule. That's not necessarily true of the rest of his actions.

        In the end, the impeachment will not be upheld if they did not in fact have a quorum. It is unfortunate though that he'll be able to hide behind the constitution he's disregarded many times this year.

      • witness  

        I've asked someone else in this thread to point out the specifically unconstitutional actions undertaken by the "remove by way of impeachment" faction of GSSC. I'm genuinely curious, since my general impression of the proceedings (and my reading of the document itself) was that they were conducted with scruple. Unusual and drama-laden, yes, but technically correct.

        I'd go further and say that the Niko clique gave the overall impression of trying to cover their own laziness in respect of their central operating document by covering with bluster about "activism" and "he who is without sin cast the first stone."

        I'm tangentially reminded of one of many immortal exchanges from Ghostbusters (the First and One True version):

        Dr. Peter Venkman: Ray, pretend for a moment that I don't know anything about metallurgy, engineering, or physics, and just tell me what the hell is going on.

        Dr Ray Stantz: You never studied.

        From a pure gamesmanship perspective, the anti-Nikonistas had done their homework on this one.

  12. stupidity  

    Why is quorum for GSSC more than a simple majority, as is custom for most legislative bodies? This means that a severe minority of 8 members can block any motion from passing simply by not showing up. Absurd!

  13. flaherty  

    11 of the 15 members present at tonights meeting were appointments; not elected.. 11 of 16 if you count niko

    • It doesn't matter  

      It doesn't matter that they were appointed and not elected. They are GSSC members and therefore have a vote.

      What's more troubling is the number that were elected that failed to show up. A lot of the people on his list as no shows were elected and make sporadic appearances at meetings. What's worse, is they are also the majority of those supporting him. One voted no because he said they were all at fault for the problems (partially true)and "let he who is without sin cast the first stone". In other words, because they're no better than Niko the GS student body should continue to suffer under the leadership of such a president.

      When you have to rely on members who do not attend meetings or resort to walking out of meetings (thereby preventing the passage of any motion and rendering the council completely impotent) in order to prevent impeachment, you have lost.

  14. smokinbladders  

    from the gslounge.com minutes of the gssc meeting………

    Karly: I am not comfortable for what has happened, I make a motion to remove the president.

    Jake: close this meeting?

    Karly: I don’t have an agenda. I don’t know why people have left this room. I think this should be done by secret ballot. People that are here should be here, people that are not here.


    Niko stands up, walks to the door, counts to 15

    Allen: that’s quorum

    Jake: point of order, motion has been made, we need to vote.

    Richard: can you restate the motion.

    Karly: remove niko from office, by secret ballot.

    Evan: who is going to read and count this? I would like to make a motion to have a three non GSSC members, read count, confer and announce the vote.

    Allen: university senator do it?

    Jake: point of order, yay is for impeachment, nay is not. That’s the vote, so write your vote.

    Paige: (counting votes) pindrop silence.

    Alex: if people don’t mind if I might make a comment. one of the problems I have with this council but it isn’t a joke. It reminds me too much of the Federal government. As an informal vote, have they been more productive working on their own than working on the council.

    Paige: 12 yay, 3 nay, motion passes.

  15. robert, of the rules  

    im pretty sure that if you count present at the beginning of a meeting, the quorum stands

  16. robert  

    Well, then the motion certainly doesnt pass. There were at least 19 members of the gssc at the meeting.

  17. joe

    how come the idiots in the gssc spam our inboxes with financial aid crap daily but i have to turn to bwog to learn about these kinds of things?

    i'm so tired of the boobs involved with the gssc. it's time to really disband the whole thing and let faculty just take over fund distribution for the remainder of the semester. i don't think the gssc does anything else anyway. except make the gs student body look like fools.

  18. Ash  

    Another embarrassing moment occurred yesterday eveningshortly before the end of the GSSC weekly meeting. Yesterday, some council members thought it would be a goodidea of creating a “fake” whining and very artificial emotional statement tothe council to deceive those who were unsure about our Student Body President’simpeachment hearing last week. However, along with the Junior Class President, some other members ofthe council embarrassingly forgot that the council should not be used for gainsand victories in their personal embattlements among themselves, but rathertheir duty is to help and assist the GS student population. Yesterday, with the “impeachment” ofNiko Cunningham, some people felt their revenge has been achieved.

    This is a fatal blow to our rights as students. It is unbelievable how the council hasmade such an embarrassing mistake. Counting should be learned Ms. Curcio – and all the other people whowere suddenly “swayed” to attack the reputation of another GS student. 12-3 counts for impeachment results to15 votes. There are 23 votingmembers and a quorum can only happen (according to the dear Constitution thatso many council members seem to have memorized so greatly) when 2/3 of thevoting members would be present. Well, Ms. Curcio & Co? How much is 15 from 23? More importantly, what kind of changecan occur when the Student Body president is being impeached two (2) daysbefore the campaigning for the new general elections?

    For me, as unfortunate as it is, it seems that there arepotential candidates, who want to distance themselves from our so-called“unpopular” (I mean who decides who is popular or not) Student Body President,so they can look in better shape for the upcoming elections. I, as a former member of the GSSC, amcalling the GS community to react to this uncalled action by the “elected”(better described as wrongly “appointed) council.

    Another very saddened chapter is saved in the dark momentsat GS – thanks Ms. Curcio & Co for creating a huge embarrassment.

    Stay tuned… More information will follow soon!

  19. The thing is this:

    for the love of all that is decent, step down with what dignity you have left. This was indeed a vote of no confidence. People that know anything about current affairs in the GSSC are familiar with Niko's shenanigans. You are looking at small scale, grassroots democracy. You promised the world and couldn't deliver. It was foolish to have made such claims and even more foolish to have abused your office in the execution of your duties. While it is completely within your power to stay in office and drag this out to the detriment of the student body you represent, we appeal to your better angels and beg for a gracefully exit.

  20. Frances  

    ...Niko is awesome, hahaha. That picture of him just sums this whole story up.

  21. const

    General Studies Student Council Constitution

    Article VIII. Meetings and Voting Procedures

    1. A quorum must be present to hold any vote.

    a. Quorum shall be defined as two-thirds of all eligible voting members of the GSSC.

  22. Ash  

    A quorum defined as 2/3 must be present to hold a vote. When the Student Body president left the meeting in protest, there were 15 members of the GSSC remaining. They needed 16 for quorum. 15 voters out of 23 members does not equal the two-thirds necessary to carry out any vote. It is 65% attendance. The GSSC requires 66.7% of its members to be present for any vote. (Article VIII.1)

  23. witness  

    What no one has pointed out was that "Niko's supporters" - in the persons of Brendan, Chikodi, and Monique - absented themselves from the proceedings very early. Specifically:

    - Chikodi, after having lauded the Senior class he purports to represent for a response rate of about a couple dozen in a recent inconsequential survey (his only order of business) simply got up and left (around 7:50pm) when he'd finished patting himself on the back;

    - Monique, whose only contribution seemed to have been to scowl in concert with Chikodi, left with him;

    - Brendan, who arrived late for the show, apparently didn't see fit to stay more than what seemed 5-10 minutes, and also left early.

    It's worth noting that an important member of the No bloc, Keith Hightower, never showed up, a fact which comports with expectations based on past performance (or lack thereof).

  24. umm  

    If he got up and left after the motion was made, shouldn't his vote count as an abstention? Thus the vote was 12-3-1. Therefore, a quorum was met. See Art. VIII.1(c). Although there seems to be a means for review, Art. IX.4, wouldn't some form of the "enrolled bill rule" apply? It seems it should be left to the body to enforce its own procedural rules--thus whether a quorum was present or not should not be up for review.

    • witness  

      Significantly, Niko made a petulant *gesture* of leaving by standing up and hovering at the door, but staying inside the room. Allen Settle pointedly called him out on the impropriety of his threat to leave, and emphasized the fact of the quorum, the latter point unchallenged by Niko.

      Niko then left the room, hovered outside the glass (it's of fishbowl construction), stepped into the open elevator... then popped back out of that elevator, slipped into the back of the room, and made gestures as if sagely taking notes.

      Rather odd behavior for an adult.

      • good point, but

        nobody said niko's an adult.

        • witness  

          I know, I know: I fed you a straight line on that one.

          I'm now envisioning the next awkward bit of cringe-worthy theatrics that Niko may indulge himself: showing up at next week's meeting and assuming "his" chair as if last night's proceedings hadn't happened. Ah, might not actually happen, but seems a greater than zero likelihood given his recent histrionic flailing.

          He's an embarrassment to be around. His best bet is to salvage what little dignity he possesses - really, an act of charity on the part of others, enabled by their silence - and leave. He could stand to actually resume studies as a normal student, with a normal course load, and actually *pass* his classes. There's a Real World out there he's going to graduate back into, to which he'll need to make an adjustment after this rather spectacularly prolonged adolescence to which we've been witness.

  25. also true

    you make good points, but i'll go one step farther... the gssc, as a whole, is made up of many people that have assumed a prolonged adolescence because they couldn't get into these positions when they were 18.

    thus, they take the titles as the popularity crowns they are and don't expect to be called on to do much with the hope that they can add the leadership position to their resumes in due time.

    • witness  

      You're saying what I - and many other non-GSSC GS students - have said in private. Really, the very idea of a "GS Student Council" per se is a bit of a joke. Mention "GSSC" to most goal-oriented GS students, and you'll either get a knowing smirk in reply, or a heartfelt rant expressing the wish that they simply _go away_ and do their schoolwork.

      Maybe I'm colored by bias, though: I'm working toward a degree in a physical science, one of a large but moderately silent majority who scoff at the petty ante politics of "student councils," conditioned to skepticism against popularity contests in any of their manifestations.

      I, for one, am getting tired of sitting by while Poli Sci geeks play out their little games at the reputational expense of the rest of us.

      • witness  

        I should preemptively clarify a side point I made earlier, having said this a few minutes ago, realizing (after I hit "Post") how it might be construed:

        "I, for one, am getting tired of sitting by while Poli Sci geeks play out their little games at the reputational expense of the rest of us."

        Here I should clarify that, ahem, "Some of my best friends are Poli Sci geeks. No, really."


  26. finally

    I still remember Niko walking into my University Writing class during my first semester here in Spring of '06 trying to scrounge up votes. He seemed to really have his heart in it and I was definitely sold on his brief speech regarding financial aid reform and trying to further integrate GS w/ CC. Sadly, he lost. When he re-entered the race this year, though, I figured I'd do what I could for the guy and voted for him again. This time he won. I felt good. If anything, I like seeing examples of persistence paying off.

    All this being said, I think he's done an exceptionally poor job while in office. Financial disclosure issues aside, I believe he's made a mockery of the position with his silly blog that not even the higher-ups in GS thought was a good idea and his open and official advocacy of the hunger strikers was entirely undiplomatic. The president should speak on behalf of the students. Sadly, once in power, Niko seemed to speak only for himself. I say good riddance and nice job on the part of the board.

    As much as it irritates me when CC students jump on any opportunity to knock GS, in this case I think they have a genuine platform for their vitriol. Niko has been a real embarrassment.

    - A GS Senior.

    • witness  

      "[Niko's] open and official advocacy of the hunger strikers was entirely undiplomatic."

      Change that last word above into the phrase "puerile and unrepresentative of the majority" and you'll have a more accurate summation of that silly bit of "activist" game play.

    • Null

      Actually, that year, he was disqualified for cheating and breaking election rules.

  27. also true

    if you really want to laugh, go on facebook and track down the status messages of people in the gssc right now. then tell me with a straight face that these people aren't living in an adolescent past.

    in fact, bwog could probably make a post on it.

  28. whoo boy

    From Spec:
    "While council members voting in favor of the impeachment now assume new leadership, Cunningham has said that he would not recognize another president, and that he would continue to exercise his role.

    “I move on just like business is normal,” Cunningham said, “and anyone who doubts that can doubt it.”"

    Does this mean we'll have a shadow council, a second organization meeting at the same time with both claiming a mandate and authority? Because that would be amazing--two dueling councils arguing intensely over constitutional procedure. Score.

    Also, I refer you all to Josh's column from last week: "Finally, a plea to the eventual winners: don’t act like Machiavellian power brokers. There’s no reason to go behind people’s backs, form secret alliances, or lie to Spectator—even off the record. You can be up front, honest, and to the point. Hell, it might even allow you to make progress on some of the issues you care about."

  29. but  

    if niko was there when the motion was made, they had 16. he then left the room, which is basically an abstention from voting. they had quorum when the motion was made

  30. What  

    I can't tell if this is serious or not.

  31. really  

    it does doesnt matter if they quorum or not. you do not conduct an impeachment procedure this way.

  32. rawl  

    who gives a shit. lol gs

    so much drama, so little importance

    • witness  

      Most GS *don't* give a shit about GSSC. The point is to clearly and loudly shout out that the GSSC are clowns who should stop pretending to speak for the quiet majority of real students who are otherwise engaged in this thing we call "study."

      Student councils per se are a joke, regardless of college affiliation. Niko is simply a paradigm example of "student government" Kool Aid drinking taken to its logical, sordid conclusion.

      Apply this liberally to other, similar asshats on any council who take the damned things seriously.

  33. really  

    you dont conduct impeachment at the end of a regular meeting without it even being an item on the agenda! last week's meeting is a clear example of how an impeachment procedure should be conducted. stop fighting with one another and start getting things done

  34. witness too  

    LOL, go witness. The really annoying thing is that there is another side to Niko that most people don't know. As we were walking out he told a girl to "shut her fucking mouth." Thats real class... why do you think people on student councils are idiots? I think some people are really intelligent and then some people are just looking for a popularity contest and they just like to hear themselves speak. I don't think its smart to generalize though...

  35. well said

    it's simple -- intelligent people wouldn't want anything to do with the student council of the non-traditional undergraduate division at columbia university. they're smart enough to spend their time studying so they can do well in the classroom and move on in life.

    i haven't the slightest idea what would drive someone to want to get involved with, of all things, the general studies student council. just the name of it reeks of a joke.

    hey, isn't it time for another email telling us to set something on fire because of the lack of financial aid? we seem to have gone more than 24 hours without one.

    when push comes to shove, however, i'm still voting for witness. the witness campaign is on.

  36. witness too  

    That just sounds like a dumb generalization to me. Thats just as retarded as CC kids saying all GSers are creepy or undeserving or whatever it is they say. Some GSers are creepy but not all. Don't judge a book by its cover. Or do judge a book by its cover and just look like an ass.

  37. well said

    you just spent four lines generalizing what you're calling a retarded, dumb generalization. emphasis on your use of retarded.

    you'd fit in well with the gssc.

  38. foggybell  

    thank you paige lampkin - supposedly the GS Senator... brilliant analysis. a ghostbusters reference to bolster your case. sounds like a great episode for "law and disorder"

  39. foggybell  

    someone ask "witness" why she is not allowed to vote. there is a reason, isn't there?

  40. Dude  

    Paige Lampkin is about the most useless council member of an entirely useless council. Everyone with half a brain already quit the GSSC.

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