The Student Association Senate impeached President Phil Meisner Friday evening after 16 members of the Senate signed a petition that called for his removal.
The eight articles of impeachment provide sufficient grounds to initiate proceedings to remove Meisner from his position, according to the petition.
Articles of removal charge that Meisner failed to follow SA bylaws and its constitution, failed to appear at scheduled meetings and official events, disregarded the financial regulations of the SA and GW and made false and misleading statements to members of the Senate regarding SA executive finances.
The petition cited specific instances, such as when Meisner attempted to enter into an agreement with Zambelli Fireworks Internationale without obtaining the approval of University authorities necessary to execute the terms of said agreement.
The prosecution and defense will present their respective cases at a Nov. 9 trial during which the Senate will function as the jury. Peter Marquez, chief judge of the Student Court, will preside over the trial. In order for Meisner to be removed from office, two-thirds of the present senators must vote in favor of his removal. A minimum of 14 out of 27 voting senators must be present.
Meisner said he feels the impeachment is thwarting the will of the students, who elected him in a run-off election last year, and said it could cause an upheaval in the organization.
Every person that voted for me is getting a slap in the face because of this, Meisner said. This is just going to be incredibly gut-wrenching for the organization. I don’t know if they fully understand what they’ve done.
Meisner said he feels the charges against him in the petition are vague and said senators have twisted bylaws to justify their case. He also said he feels the charges are rooted in politics from last year’s election.
The ring leaders of this effort are all politically motivated, he said. They said `what’s the best way to move up on the ladder?’ and they concluded it was to move someone else a rung down.
Meisner said he feels the Senate members who impeached him did not make an adequate attempt to contact him with their concerns. He said he heard rumors of impeachment, but the topic was never formally brought up with him until the petition was delivered to his office Friday.
Meisner said he feels he has tried to do a good job as president and is unclear about what he has actually done wrong.
I understand I’m a public figure, and this comes with the territory, but I don’t understand what I’m really guilty of, he said.
Graduate Sen. Jon Rodeback (CSAS), who signed the petition, said he and other senators have attempted to address these concerns with Meisner during the past few months and have received no substantive response.
The lack of response has left us no other option but to forward articles of removal, he said.
Rodeback said the petition was brought on by a number of serious actions and inactions and said the purpose of the trial is to get to the truth of the matter. Rodeback said none of the senators have political motivations.
Members of the Senate who signed the petition declined further comment about the issue, saying their status as impartial jury members should prevent them from commenting further.
Undergraduate Sen. Mustafa Lazkani (CSAS) said he feels the impeachment is a waste of valuable time and considers the petition to be an example of dirty politics. He said he feels the petition came out of the blue,giving Meisner no warning.
I would possibly have signed this if there had been written warnings to (Meisner) before, but they’re trying to get him with a sucker punch, he said. The first time I heard about this was when someone asked me to sign a petition.
Lazkani said he understands the senators did not need to warn Meisner, but he thought it would have been a humane gesture.
Meisner said he believes the trial will be filled with a lot of smoke and mirrors, calling it a kangaroo court because members of the jury also function as prosecutors. Meisner said despite these concerns, he is going to defend his position.
This is going to consume me for the next nine days, but I’m used to fighting lost battles, and I’m going to fight this to the end because I believe I’m right, and I believe they’re dead wrong, he said.
Charges stated for the removal of SA President Phil Meisner in articles filed Friday:
1. Failure to follow and uphold the SA bylaws and constitution, disregarding the rules set down by the current Senate and previous Senates.
2. Failure to attend numerous scheduled meetings and official events.
3. Attempt to enter into a contract with Zambelli Fireworks Internationale without obtaining the approval of University officials.
4. Failure to line-itemize executive budget correctly, failing to properly report expenditures of the SA executive branch.
5. Not handling financial matters relating to student groups in an expedient and responsible fashion.
6. Neglect of office duties, failing to maintain a functional work environment.
7. Made false and misleading statements to the Senate about executive expenditures last summer and about use of veto power.
8. General violation of oath of office through gross neglect of responsibilities and duties.