By Farris Willingham, Editor-in-Chief
Student senators finalized a resolution April 6 calling for the impeachment of the incumbent Student Government Association president.
Senate’s steering committee cited six charges against Emma Velez, SGA president-elect, in which they said she violated the association’s constitution.
Potential grounds for impeachment include misuse of funds, breach of faith and dereliction of duty, SGA’s constitution read.
The charges against Velez cover all three reasons for requesting impeachment, Sen. Anthony England (senior-at-large) said.
Among Velez’s charges are:
- circumventing Senate’s appropriation process by using SGA’s discretionary funds to extend $1,000 to the Native American Society’s Powwow event,
- acting a dual-presidency in Star Connect and SGA,
- claiming hours to collect a salary, despite not reporting accomplished work to Senate,
- utilizing SGA funds to purchase an iPad for an executive branch member without sending a contractual agreement to Senate,
- purchasing two other iPads and distributing all three to SGA officials without acquiring required property usage agreements from the users, and
- neglecting the SGA election rules by validating an illegal action and failing to report it to SGA’s election commission.
Senators will discuss the charges and vote on the resolution, which requires a two-thirds vote for passage, at their April 10 meeting.
President Velez said her alleged neglect of the SGA election rules should not be part of the resolution since SGA’s election committee and judiciary decided that the election results were valid and no rules were broken.
“Due to the serious nature of the trial being conducted for my removal from office, it is highly inappropriate that such evidence would be entered for the purposes of making claims made against my conduct as president of Student Government Association as a part of the grounds for impeachment,” she wrote in a response to the resolution. “To include such statements in the trial would be, in essence, a matter of double jeopardy.
Velez asked the committee to remove that portion of their claims.
The election violation referenced is in regard to a Facebook post where Velez responded to an alumna who had cast a vote on Velez’s behalf. Velez said the action was “legal.”
In the cases of candidate misbehavior though malicious, persistent, and/or willful acts, the student court may exercise disqualification as punishment, read Article V, Section 4-K of SGA’s constitution.
There was not sufficient evidence to substantiate malicious intent from Velez, Harmonniey Cheadle, election committee member, wrote in an email announcing the committee’s decision.
“The actions and statement made by the former student were made prior to the response made by Ms. Velez,” she wrote. “The student had already voted and therefore no solicitation of illegal votes, the only rule President-Elect Velez would be in violation of, occurred.”
If the committee’s resolution is approved, Velez would be removed from office.
Velez otherwise would be cleared of all charges and safeguarded against similar charges in the future.
In the case of Velez’s removal, Senate President Sarah Cook would assume the role as SGA president until inauguration. Senate president-elect Robin Ladd would then fill the position as SGA president and Senate president post-inauguration.
The Senate meets at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays in the Great Hall in Tom and Brenda McDaniel University Center.
Click here for a link to MediaOCU’s Twitter account, where you can follow a live tweet session of the impeachment meeting.