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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bernsen censure attempt fails

    An attempt by several student government senators to censure the speech and actions of student body president Cade Bernsen was denied by the vice chairman of the senate yesterday.

    The efforts by Associated Students of the University of Arizona Sens. Rhonda Tubbs and Lexie Ettinger were stopped by Sen. Patrick Cook, the vice chairman of the senate, who denounced further discussion of the special meeting item, calling it illegal while trying to end the meeting as quickly as possible.

    “”If any senators are unhappy with my ruling, you can appeal the case to the ASUA supreme court next fall,”” said Cook, a pre-education junior.

    Last week, Sen. Heather Spicer introduced the resolution to the 10-member senate, with four senators deciding to pursue the matter, four denying the request and one senator abstaining. As the senate vice chairman, Cook held the 10th and tiebreaking vote and chose to deny the motion to censure Bernsen.

    While some questioned why Spicer was pursuing the matter with little time remaining in the school year, Spicer said last week she had been working on the issue since January and recently got the item on the senate agenda.

    But some senators said they were growing tired of having to deal with the reoccurring issues regarding Bernsen and wanted yesterday’s meeting to end quickly.

    Bernsen has been on leave since January during two investigations by the Dean of Students Office. One began in November after sexual harassment complaints from two women in the student government, and the second started in January after he fired five appointed officials.

    Last month, the Dean of Students Office dropped the sexual assault and indecent exposure charges against Bernsen. The outcome of the sexual harassment charge is still pending.

    Sen. Alex Dong said the issue should be resolved in the court of public opinion and that senators should be focused on more pressing matters that the group hopes to accomplish before terms expire.

    “”Students don’t want to hear about this anymore,”” said Dong, a molecular and cellular biology senior.

    Cook said the actions taken by Tubbs and Ettinger, who reintroduced the item, were illegal under section 58 of Robert’s Rules of Order, a parliamentary procedure rulebook the senate uses to clarify such discrepancies.

    Tyler Carrell, Bernsen’s roommate and former chief of staff, had no comment on the matter and said Bernsen’s attorney would handle anything further.

    Because of how quickly Cook decided, many senators and audience members seemed overwhelmed by the proceedings and wondered if Cook’s actions were legal.

    Some were visibly upset, including Sen. Matthew Boepple, who left the room out of frustration.

    Boepple said the meeting, which started just before the scheduled noon hour, was completely unprofessional and said he’s ashamed to be a member of the senate.

    Tubbs also voiced her concern with the nature of the proceedings.

    “”It just shows what a mockery the senate has become this year,”” said Tubbs, a senior majoring in finance and political science. “”This was done almost comically.””

    Ettinger, a political science senior, agreed, saying free speech had been denied.

    “”I thought we were all adults,”” Ettinger said. “”I’ve never felt so disrespected.””

    The senate will reconvene tomorrow at its weekly meeting in the Student Union Memorial Center.

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