Senior and off-campus senator Ashley Conner was elected Speaker of the Students’ Association Senate Monday night after failed attempts to impeach two senators.

Conner had been competing for speaker against current SA president and senior John LaBoda.

“I am of course very excited. In part, I feel honored that the Senate chose me as their Speaker,” Conner said. “I know that not all of the senators voted for me – at least, I’m guessing as much – but I hope they all know that I will do my best job for each of them, regardless of any past problems we may have had.”

Impeachment

Prior to the election, seniors and Hill Court senators Pete Sanfacon and Sean Sullivan were brought up for impeachment.

Sophomore and Susan B. Anthony senator Andrew Baukney brought the motion to impeach both Sanfacon and Sullivan.

In his motion, he accused the two senators of poor attendance, inactivity, failure to follow the policies and procedures of the senate ? including walking out on last week’s meeting during the election of the speaker ? and drinking alcohol during senate meetings in the Gowen Room of Wilson Commons.

Sanfacon and Sullivan both spoke first to defend themselves against the charges, and then members of the senate and gallery spoke their opinions.

Sullivan argued that because he and Sanfacon were of legal age, whether they were drinking should not be an issue.

“I think I’d have to explain myself if I was falling down, talking in a disrespectful way, not able to be understood or if I made some unjustified personal attacks against people,” Sullivan said. “It was clear to anyone who saw me in that meeting I did none of those things.”Sullivan also argued that nobody provided specific evidence to back up the allegations of drinking, and that senate had a history of social drinking, so there would be a precedent for senators who wanted to consume alcohol.

Answering charges of poor attendance, Sullivan responded that the issue of attendance had already been resolved when the senate failed to impeach him two weeks ago. “It’s almost liked they tacked something else on,” he said. “Almost like double jeopardy.”

Sullivan also expressed dissatisfaction that the senate did not approach him and Sanfacon about the charges of alcohol use, stating that he first found out about the charges of alcohol use, stating that the first he found out about the issue by reading the Campus Times, and he questioned the CT’s decision to print the allegations.

Sanfacon’s impeachment was conducted first, and following questioning, the senate moved to an executive session during which they voted to not remove Sanfacon from his seat.

The senate voted to remain in an open executive session for Sullivan’s impeachment. The vote was 12-5 in favor of impeachment – however, a total of 14 senators would have had to vote yes to remove Sullivan from his seat, so Sullivan also remained a senator.

Several senators expressed dissatisfaction with the result of the impeachments and disapproval of the two senators’ actions, including Baukney, who also said that he hoped the incoming speaker would enforce the senate’s policies and procedures.

“In the bylaws, it says that [a senator] can have one unexcused absence, and then you can be brought up for impeachment,” Baukney said.

“I personally think it was very disrespectful for both senators to drink during the meeting,” freshman and Residential Quad senator Katherine Shen said.

“I will say that any action taken by a Senator that blatantly breaks University policy will not be condoned by myself and hopefully the rest of the Senate,” newly elected Class of 2003 senator Eric Dubowsky said.

“[Sanfacon and Sullivan] have been given a lot more leeway this year than I have ever seen, considering how senator [<>] Klein was impeached last year after missing only two meetings,” said part-time student and previous public relations committee chair Daryl DuLong.

Class of 2005 Senator Eric Danko disagreed. “I would have been extremely disappointed had senators Sullivan and Sanfacon been impeached. They consistently contribute relevantly to any issue that is raised.”

Speaker election

Following the impeachment hearings, Conner and LaBoda each presented a speech to the senate as candidates for speaker, and the floor was then opened to anybody who wished to question the candidates.

Senators and students asked questions on topics ranging from the new SA Constitution – which both Conner and LaBoda agreed to follow if passed – to the controversy surrounding the elections over the past several weeks and the impeachment earlier that night.

Connor focused on representing the senate as speaker, while LaBoda focused on changes he wanted to make.

“As a person, I have a strong voice and a passionate feeling about the issues I choose to campaign,” Connor said. “I’ll be bringing that energy to my work as a Speaker. While my job is no longer to advocate a single opinion, I can represent the views of the Senate with the same passion and intensity that I have had as a senator.”

“While I might not have a vote at the table on Monday, the speaker has a great deal of power outside the meetings,” LaBoda said. “If students want to see change, I’ll give them change.”

Regarding the decision of Sanfacon and Sullivan to walk out during last week’s meeting, Conner expressed a need for more enforcement of the senate’s policies and procedures, while LaBoda supported their right to walk out of the meeting. “It was a strategic move,” LaBoda said.

DuLong compared the stated agendas of the two candidates. “John made his goals clear, outlining an agenda that resembles his presidential platform from last year,” DuLong said. “Ashley made it more apparent that her agenda was the agenda of the body, to strengthen from the inside, and to redefine the role of senate within the SA and within the university. I think that was the selling point that gave her the election.”

Following several hours of deliberation, the senate elected Conner its new speaker.

“I am of course very excited. In part, I feel honored that the Senate chose me as their Speaker,” Conner said. “I know that not all of the senators voted for me – at least, I’m guessing as much – but I hope they all know that I will do my best job for each of them, regardless of any past problems we may have had.”

Several senators expressed a concern that LaBoda’s strong agenda would have impaired his ability to serve effectively as speaker.

“Even though John has been on the Senate and is currently serving as President, I believed that his personal interest would conflict with the body, and that was the ultimate tie breaker for me,” Shen said. “[Conner] made a clear distinction that her personal opinions would not interfere with the ultimate decision of the body, which to me is very important.

“Mr. LaBoda’s agenda resembled that of a President; following it would have forced his actions to conflict with his duties,” Class of 2004 senator Peter Ordal said.

While some senators expressed concerns, others were impressed by the credentials and abilities of both Conner and LaBoda.

“I think that both candidates were very qualified for the speaker position and it was a pretty tough decision to make,” Dubowsky said. “I feel Ashley Conner has quite a presence on the senate and it ready to do to some great things for the SA government and the student body. John LaBoda, on the other hand, has already contributed so much to the campus in his time here. I hope that his loss of the speaker seat doesn’t end his involvement in the student government.”

“I feel very confident about Ashley as next year’s Speaker. I think she brings the right combination of leadership, ideas, fairness, and self-restraint to the table and wish her the best of luck next year,” DuLong said.

“Ashley has spent over a year eying the position, and she’s prepared herself. I have full confidence in her abilities,” Ordal said.


Berry can be reached at tberry@campustimes.org



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