Former ASCLU President Nick Steinwender was seven total votes short of having the appeal of his removal overturned on Monday night, March 11.
Former Senate Director Alexis Ghattas will now serve as president until May 1, and Kimberly Lee, who was elected to 2019-20 Senate Director, will be appointed to step in early to her position.
Ghattas expressed willingness to take on the position of president, closing the meeting by stating, “Trust in me as your president to represent your interests moving forward.”
Early on in the meeting in response to Steinwender’s concern section that there would be no transition process to Ghattas and the incoming 2019-20 president, Ghattas said that of the presidential duties, she is familiar with “maybe half.”
Although the vote was 11-6-0 in Senate and 7-9-0 in Programs Board, it fell short of the three-fourths majority required in both government bodies to overturn the Judicial Board’s decision made Feb. 25 to remove Steinwender from office, based on complaints that he stepped down from the elections committee and endorsed his friend and roommate Thomas Singelyn, who was a candidate for ASCLU president.
The vote was also done by secret ballot rather than a verbal roll call. ASCLU 2019-20 president-elect and Junior Senator John Basmajian put forth a motion to make an open vote in the interest of transparency, which was urged against by Ghattas and Coordinator for Student Involvement Cambria Teter.
“I am protecting the interests of people in this room that don’t feel comfortable,” Ghattas said.
However, Steinwender, along with non-government students who signed onto the complaint against him, were required to leave the room before the discussion and voting portion of the meeting.
In a statement released March 11 after the vote, Steinwnder wrote, “There should be no place in our student government for members that are too scared to answer for their votes while in a leadership position.” He also called for such members to step down or refrain from running in future elections.
The appeal meeting opened up with public comments from students. Some expressed not knowing about the student government meeting until today and cited issues of transparency, while others simply advocated that representatives vote in the interest of their constituency.
Government representatives had a lengthy discussion of Steinwender’s appeal and spoke on various sides of the issue.
Some, like Senior Senator Peyton Borg, said personal opinions aside, given that Steinwender removed himself from the committee to avoid conflict of interest and that the only possible sanction in the constitution for a violation is removal from office, people should vote in his favor.
Others commented on issues like Steinwender’s morals and how he spoke at the public comments section of the Feb. 25 Programs Board meeting after being removed from office. He discussed spring formal’s proximity to Borderline Bar & Grill, where 12 people were killed in November, and a lack of transparency with this information.
Representatives also asked clarification questions about the constitution and bylaws. Some saw the meeting as an ineffective use of time, given that people had their minds set on how to vote before coming in.
“There’s so much drama and pettiness,” said Junior Programs Board Representative Lukas Swidler, who described the ASCLUG offices as a place where people argue.
Approximately 25 students attended the appeal meeting, which is more than normal attendance.
“If we learn anything from this as campus leaders, it’s that we must always keep our focus on representing the students of this university, not our own personal interests and goals,” Steinwender said.
Editor in Chief
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 10 a.m. March 12 to reflect that Steinwender was seven votes short, as he need two more in Senate and five more in Programs Board. It was also edited to correct that Basmajian’s motion was not for a “standard” roll call vote, as ASCLUG’s standard is to vote by hand.