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ASUA Notebook 03/16/22: Impeachment in the senate

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Pascal Albright
ASUA is the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona voted to impeach College of Science Senator Louise Lalescu at their March 16 meeting. The meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. and adjourned at 6:50 with most of the discussion pertaining to the impeachment vote. 

As soon as the meeting began, the student officials went into an executive session where people sitting in on the meeting are asked to leave for the session and only members with voting rights can participate. The subject matter was also treated as confidential. 

The senate appointed Cheryl Blum as legal counsel for the impeachment charges, as per the bylaws.

Executive Vice President Alexandra Devereux read the article of impeachment, Section 4-5a2, but did not go over the specific charges discussed in the executive session. .

Section four of the ASUA bylaws goes over required duties for senators, stating that senators must spend 10 hours a week in senate related business, which includes time spent in the ASUA office, their designated college space, time spent in senate meetings and at ASUA sponsored events. 

Section (4)5a states that “attendance at all official weekly meetings that have been posted is mandatory. It is the sole decision of the Chair of the meeting if the absence is excused or unexcused.”

The policy is only in effect for the senate, and after the fifth unexcused absence, automatic impeachment charges will take place, according to the bylaws. 

In this meeting, EVP Devereux also released the Senate Absences for 2021-2022. Sen. Lalescu had five unexcused absences, making her eligible for automatic impeachment. 

Sen. Jack Healy followed closely behind with four unexcused absences and one excused absence. Sen. Elsa Ayon and Sen. Jack Haskins had six excused absences with Sen. Swathi Ramkumar trailing behind with five excused absences. 

The bylaws also state that this meeting is only to bring the charges forth and at the next regular session the senate will vote on impeachment, which can only be achieved through a three-fourths majority vote. The issue of whether or not someone is actually impeached is decided later by the five members of the Supreme Court. 

When the executive session ended, senators were to vote on moving forward with the impeachment process but Sen. Lalescu motioned to discuss. EVP Deveruex said she didn’t think they were allowed to discuss specifics.

They consulted with student legal service Blum on the language. 

“It doesn’t say anything about discussion, but there is a little bit of murkiness in the bylaws because it is not entirely clear whether or not that would be prohibited,” Blum said. “So I don’t think discussion is prohibited [ … but] if there is a discussion it’s going to have to be very carefully constrained.”

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With that being said, Sen. Lalescu made her statement. 

“I would like to say two things,” Sen. Lalescu said. “[Senator Jordan-Isaiah Toyos], I don’t appreciate that you already brought up this for the Supreme Court to decide before the vote has taken place. I believe that comment was inappropriate. And also bringing up these specific charges that were brought up to the public and read out loud were also inappropriate.” 

She continued to describe the timeline the impeachment would take place; the Senate would vote to impeach next week per the bylaws, and then a trial before the Supreme Court weeks before the end of the semester. 

“Meaning that in the last weeks of school when students tend to have the most issues with finals and graduation, I would leave my students there with no one left to represent them,” Sen. Lalescu said.

EVP Deveruex replied, quoting Section 16d of the bylaws, that the executive vice president should immediately assume the role of the vacated office. 

“So although I’m not a College of Science senator, per the bylaws I would actually assume the role so your college would not be unrepresented,” EVP Devereux said. 

EVP Devereux motioned to vote with no opposition, so the impeachment proceeding was put to vote. For confidentiality purposes, the charges were not read to the public, although they had been mentioned earlier in the meeting as Section 5a4.

The vote was eight votes ‘for,’ three votes ‘against’ and two votes ‘abstain’, which classified it as a majority vote. 

After checking the constitution for the language of what constituted a majority – over half or two thirds – the senate agreed that it was a majority vote of over half the senate. 

Blum left the meeting after sending a message in the chat saying that she thinks the vote was conducted appropriately.

“It is now in the Court’s hands. Best of luck to all,” she wrote. 

Honorable Mentions 

Administrative Vice President Kyle Kline is updating the language of the constitution as it has not been updated in four years and the language has become outdated. 

“None of the language will affect this hearing,” AVP Kline said in reference to the impeachment proceeding. In the coming weeks, the Daily Wildcat will be publishing the new language for students to review.  

UA DIVEST, a student group that advocates for the university to move away from investing in climate change, met with President Dr. Robert C. Robbins before spring break and will have a final meeting with the CEO and CFO of the UA Foundation to get them to divest from fossil fuel assets, an effort that, according to UA DIVEST, has “literally taken two years.”

*Editor’s Note: A correction has been made regarding changes to the ASUA constitution, not the ASUA bylaws as previously stated


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