Students’ Association Senator and freshman Chizoba Umesi was impeached and removed from office at the Senate meeting on Monday, Nov. 16. for an attendance violation, as well as a lack of involvement in his governmental duties.
The next person in line for the Senate seat is freshman Rohini Bhatia and, within the next two weeks, the SA will know if Bhatia’s schedule will allow her to fill the seat.
In addition to acting as a senator, Umesi was a member of the Steering and Projects and Services committees. It was Umesi’s absences from the Projects and Services committee meetings that subjected him to being put on the agenda for impeachment from the Senate.
In Article V of the Senate By-Laws, the attendance policy, which can be found on the Hive Web site, states that repeated absences from the committee meetings is grounds for removal. In addition, the co-chairs of the committee determine the number of repeated absences, which are justifiable for removal.
‘We wanted to be a bit more strict on the attendance this year because the Senate has been taking on more and more responsibilities every year, [which is] done in committees,” Speaker of the Senate and senior Kierstin Hughes said. ‘So we really wanted to emphasize this year that being a Senator also carries this commitment of participating.”
After being sworn in as senator on Sept. 21, Umesi missed the first three Projects and Services committee meetings. Co-chairs of the Projects and Services Committee and sophomores Bradley Halpern and Alissa Brill warned Umesi that his absences from the Projects and Services Committee meetings would result in harsh consequences.
Umesi began to attend meetings again for the next three weeks after his warning.
According to Umesi, it was not made clear to him until several weeks into his Senate term that attendance at committee meetings was taken into account for his Senate attendance record.
‘How do you explain the punishment for an offense that I did during the earliest stage of my senate run when there was clearly a miscommunication issue?”
Umesi said. ‘After having realized my offense and the need to change, I did change.”
Despite that Umesi believes there was a lack of communication, other senators feel differently. During the Senate meeting last Monday, senators were reportedly informed about the strict attendance policy earlier in the semester.
‘It was very explicit that attendance in committee meetings was very important,” Deputy Speaker of the Senate and sophmore Dan Cohn said.
Umesi’s impeachment was not put on the Senate agenda until last week when committee attendance was more closely examined, according to Hughes. Hughes had the committee chairs e-mail their attendance records to Cohn, which was when they realized Umesi had violated the attendance policy.
In addition to the attendance violation, the co-chairs of the Projects and Services committees, as well as other SA members, found Umesi’s level of involvement to be lacking, even after he began attending Projects and Services committee meetings.
Hughes closely investigated this matter with other committee members.
‘I wish I could tell you some [of Umesi’s contributions as a senator],” Hughes said. ‘He attended Steering and Senate meetings and a few office hours.”
The next step for the SA is to give the Senate seat to the candidate with the next highest vote tally. This only occurs if there are more than 10 weeks left in the academic year before spring elections, which is currently the case.
An impeachment of a senator is uncommon for the SA; the last time a senator was impeached was in fall of 2007. At most, a senator is put on the agenda for impeachment once a year.
‘There is more of a push to hold ourselves accountable and to say we need to be better at policing ourselves,” Hughes said. ‘We take this very seriously, [but] we have a responsibility to make sure that students are being represented to the best of our ability.”
Berkowitz is a member of
the class of 2011.