SA Senate to decide whether senator failed to fulfill duties, created ‘hostile’ environment

Media Credit: Alexander Welling | Assistant Photo Editor

The Student Association is holding a hearing for SA Sen. Jake Corsi, CCAS-G, to evaluate accusations of "discriminatory behavior" and failure to uphold his duties as a chair.

Updated: November 18, 2019 at 12:50 p.m.

The Student Association Senate will hold a hearing Monday to determine whether a senator failed to fulfill his duties and contributed to a “hostile” environment, according to draft documents obtained by The Hatchet.

The senate will decide whether SA Sen. Jake Corsi, CCAS-G, did not fulfill his responsibilities in leading a special SA committee for campus improvement projects and whether Corsi’s actions, words and comments violated the SA’s governing documents, according to a draft document obtained by The Hatchet. An earlier version of the document, written by SA Sen. Brandon Hill, CCAS-U, outlines several charges against Corsi and contains 10 pieces of evidence to support the charges sent to SA members by the Student Court Thursday.

“The court will allow the senators attempting to censure Senator Jake Corsi to put on evidence of individual violations and this charging document will only directly allege conduct already charged by the previous two charging documents,” the newer document states.

The senate initiated censure proceedings Sept. 23 against Corsi for acts during his tenure in the senate, but inconsistencies in the SA’s governing documents delayed the hearing by almost two months.

The newer document, which is not the official final version of the charging document, states that the charges, broadly placed under the two categories “Dereliction of Duty” and “Creation or Continuation of a Hostile Environment,” are meant to “reflect the informal nature” of censure hearings compared to impeachment hearings that could lead to the removal of an SA member from their post.

The Student Court and SA Executive Vice President Amy Martin have agreed that the updated phrasing of charges and evidence will result in “the fairest and most efficient center hearing,” the document states.

“This charging document does not include the direct evidence, statutory and constitutional provisions located in the original charging documents by Sen. Hill and tasked by the rules,” the document states. “Having already motioned to initiate censure hearings against Senator Corsi, the need to supply initial probable cause is saved for the hearing.”

Hill’s original document states that Corsi failed to attend a constitutionally mandated diversity training this semester. Corsi sent an email to senators Sept. 5 that he left the SA retreat at which the training took place because “it was too damn hot,” according to a screenshot of an email included in the documents.

“This shows a pattern of behavior of not learning about and interacting with the issues that are being faced by the people who he represents as well as a lack of respect for the mandatory trainings in place,” the original documents state. “It is believed that the comments of Sen. Corsi are an advert reaction to his lack of interaction with diversity and inclusion education.”

After a racist Snapchat posted to a then-sorority president’s account surfaced in September, SA President SJ Matthews and Martin issued a statement condemning the post. Corsi commented on the post that targeting a student and student organization “without all the facts over a crude joke is abhorrent,” according to a screenshot of Corsi’s comments included in Hill’s documents.

SA Sen. Raina Hackett, CCAS-U and the chair of the diversity and inclusion assembly, emailed senators four days after the Facebook post that diversity and inclusion assembly members planned to hold a community forum that night for black students in response to the Snapchat. Corsi called the event “segregated” and said the town hall should be held off campus, according to a screenshot in the documents.

“You’re either DIA for all students or not,” the email from Corsi reads.

The documents state that Corsi’s response to the community forum pushed former SA Sen. Caroline Beason, ESIA-U, to step down from her role in September.

“I had hoped to make a positive impact on my community, but I would be unable to achieve this, given the persistent toxicity and disrespect that have become normalized within this organization’s culture,” Beason’s resignation letter reads.

Beason’s letter did not name Corsi, but SA leaders charge him with creating what the student code of conduct outlines as a “hostile environment” because he deprived Beason of participation in the SA, a “co-curricular activity.”

“I respect everyone in the SA, but I can’t condone the comments made by Sen. Corsi,” she said in an email.

Corsi allegedly “derailed” an SA meeting Oct. 28 when he criticized SA Sen. Haining Bao, ESIA-U, for displaying a Chinese flag in front of his seat at the meeting, according to the document. Corsi asked Bao to remove the flag because he believed it resembled the Soviet flag, but Bao told him the flag represented China.

Corsi allegedly failed to hold required meetings for a special committee he introduced in September to distribute SA funds for campus improvement projects, according to Hill’s document. The Infrastructure Special Committee Act, which created the committee, mandates that the group meet at least twice a month and update the full senate monthly on its work.

But committee members have not met or updated the senators since the committee was created, according to Hill’s document. The SA’s constitution dictates that a member of the body can be censured by a two-thirds vote for not fulfilling job requirements.

Hackett, the diversity and inclusion assembly chair and senator who initiated the motion to begin censure proceedings, said Hill compiled most of the information included in the documents, but both senators worked on the charges laid out.

She called Corsi’s response to her message about the community forum saddening because his response demonstrated that the SA has “much growing to do as a student body in terms of ignorance.” Hackett said she does not know how the senate will vote Monday on the censure.

“Corsi has displayed behavior that is hurtful to the structure of our student governance,” she said in an email. “He also uses his political ideology as a scapegoat or an excuse for his ignorant comments.”

Hill, the senator who sent Corsi the original document Wednesday, said he worked with Hackett, SA Sen. Sparkle Mark, CCAS-U, and SA Sen. Howard Brookins, U-at-Large, on collecting evidence for the charges he laid out.

He added that Brookins helped him assemble additional evidence outlined in the documents sent to Corsi Wednesday that gained the support of more senators for censure but said whether the senate will decide that Corsi created a “hostile environment” is “still pretty up in the air.”

“It was originally thought that we have a better chance of censuring Sen. Corsi based on dereliction of duty,” he said. “Most people seem to be on board with that. Originally, we didn’t have a lot of senate support for the creation of a hostile environment.”

Hill said that after he emailed the document with the original charges to Corsi Wednesday, Corsi responded, “You got more? You are a clown.” He said he added a screenshot of the email exchange into the documents before the deadline for submitting the documents closed Wednesday.

“I think it’s just exacerbated the fact that Sen. Corsi doesn’t take ownership over his actions and his words,” Hill said. “At this point, I wasn’t even surprised based on the rhetoric and behavior that he’s displayed in the senate, but it adds fuel to the fire that is his censure hearing.”

Corsi did not return multiple requests for comment.

This post has been updated to reflect the following clarification:
An earlier version of this post did not make clear that the documents were not the official charging documents, but were uncirculated drafts. This post has been updated to reflect that fact.

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