SA Senate plans for Brookins’ impeachment, citing bylaw and constitution violations

Media Credit: Danielle Towers | Staff Photographer

SA Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CPS-G and the chair of the governance and nominations committee, said the senate has a responsibility to “defend” the organization's reputation and rebuild trust with students and administrators.

Updated: Jan. 26, 2020 at 6:19 p.m.

The Student Association Senate will start the impeachment process for SA President Howard Brookins following claims of “inappropriate actions” in his position and allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

The SA Senate cannot impeach a president based on sexual misconduct allegations, according to the Student Code of Conduct. But SA Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CPS-G and the chair of the governance and nominations committee, cited four examples of SA bylaws violated by Brookins – all potential grounds for impeachment.

“I’m imploring President Brookins to resign,” Falcigno said. “Let us begin the process of healing. Let us begin the process of rebuilding trust. Let us move on and continue the work of advocating for the student body.”

As of Jan. 16, 14 members have left the executive branch, citing mismanagement in the executive branch under Brookins’ leadership.

Brookins did not attend Monday’s meeting.

Falcigno said he recognized “numerous” resignations occurring in the executive branch over winter break and a “continuous flow” of departures in the branch since then. He said the governance and nominations committee invited the resigned members to attend an executive session – a meeting closed to the public – where he said former members shared “deeply troubling” remarks related to the operations of the SA.

“Based on the information that we received in the governance and nominations committee from former cabinet members, the governance and nominations committee is announcing tonight that we will formally begin the process of impeaching President Brookins,” Falcigno said. “The committee has drafted four specific charges for the senate to consider during a trial.”

Falcigno charged Brookins with failure to represent the SA and to appoint and nominate students to fill vacancies and to organize the executive branch, which he said breaches the SA constitution. Falcigno said Brookins did not nominate and appoint students to University advisory councils and the joint committee of faculty and students, and he did not appoint a commissioner to the Joint Elections Commission by Oct. 1, which are also potential constitutional and bylaw violations.

“I want to be clear that these charges are specifically related to constitution and bylaw violations and are not related to the recent events of this past weekend,” Falcigno said. “If a student organization proceeded with adjudicating behavior that could also be a violation of a University policy, then members of that organization and the organization may be in violation of the Code of Student Conduct and be subject to sanctions on that basis.”

He said the seven members of the governance and nominations committee, including himself, signed on in agreement with the charges and will seek formal support from at least one-third of senators to file them with Student Court Chief Judge Maggie O’Brien, who can formally initiate impeachment proceedings. As of Monday, 38 senators have called for Brookins’ resignation, Falcigno said.

He said Monday “is truly a very sad day,” but he added that the organization has a responsibility to “defend” the organization’s reputation and rebuild trust with students and administrators.

“We unfortunately need to take this drastic but necessary action,” he said. “Right now, we essentially do not have a president. That is a problem and a blatant dereliction of duty.”

SA Executive Vice President Brandon Hill said he set up meetings with the remaining members of the executive branch to support their “emotional needs” and discuss their advocacy goals. He said he is prepared to represent students’ interests in meetings with administrators.

Hill has pressed Brookins both publicly and privately to quit.

“I am here to support the senate in whatever path they choose to do and ensure President Brookins takes full accountability for the actions inside the confines of our governing documents,” Hill said.

The senate also unanimously approved a bill adjusting how many undergraduate and graduate students serve on the Joint Elections Commission – the body that oversees SA elections. Under the approved legislation, four undergraduates and two graduate students will serve instead of three undergraduates and three graduate students.

The senate unanimously approved a resolution outlining a survey to be released to the student body that asks for their perspective on diversity and inclusion in courses.

“We’re hoping to ascertain certain information so we can further continue our quest to try and achieve that possible diversity and inclusion requirement,” said SA Sen. Jovawn McNeil, ESIA-U and the sponsor of the legislation.

Senators also approved a $30,000 co-sponsorship request from the Beta Theta Pi fraternity to alleviate debt owed to the chapter’s national headquarters.

The senate unanimously approved former SA Vice President of Campus Affairs Anna Weber – one of the executive branch members who stepped down – as a fourth senate policy adviser. Members voted to approve junior Derek Lo as an undergraduate-at-large senator.

Senators also unanimously approved sophomore Brook Giffin and freshmen Sophia Chin, Tessa Conrardy and Caroline Sagristano to serve on the Joint Elections Commission.

Tara Suter contributed reporting.

This post has been updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the SA approved $30,000 for Pi Beta Phi. The funds were allocated to Beta Theta Pi. We regret this error.

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