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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Davis College Democrats criticize impeachment of ASUCD President, Internal Vice President

While both impeachments were passed unanimously by the ASUCD Senate, DCD said that the manner in which the resolutions passed was unfair

 

By VINCE BASADA — campus@theaggie.org

 

On Dec. 6, the ASUCD Senate unanimously impeached both President Francisco Ojeda and Internal Vice President (IVP) Aarushi Raghunathan during a closed special session. With both impeachment resolutions passed, hearings held by the Judicial Council are expected to proceed during winter quarter 2024. 

Former Senator Erek Leschyn, whose term ended in Dec. 2023, was the lead author of the resolution impeaching IVP Raghunathan. The Senate only turned to impeachment near the end of fall quarter, according to Leschyn. 

“I was probably one of the senators that was talking about [impeachment] the earliest, but it only became clear really in maybe the last 2 weeks of the quarter,” Leschyn said.

Senator Jacob Klein said that the Dec. 6 meeting was initially planned to discuss a possible censure of both Ojeda and Raghunathan and to host a conversation about a solution forward. 

“The closed session took place because we hoped that private discussions with President Ojeda and Vice President Raghunathan could result in productive discourse,” Klein said. “However, they gave responses that suggested a lack of accountability.”

After senators discussed their concerns with the President and IVP, according to Leschyn, both individuals were asked to leave the room for some time. This is when the Senate ultimately decided to impeach them instead. 

“The Senate table [during the] fall quarter was one that had been experiencing, to put it bluntly, incompetency [from Ojeda and Raghunathan],” Leschyn said. 

The original censures were modified to pass as impeachment resolutions over the course of the special closed session. After the impeachment resolutions were passed, the Senate then presented them to the President and IVP. 

Ojeda’s impeachment resolution, authored by Senator Dani Antonio, cites his failure to specify how he spends his budgeted 19.5 paid work hours, his failure to properly introduce SR #1 — which lays out yearly goals for ASUCD — and frustrating interactions between Ojeda and the Senate table. 

“The reasoning behind the Senate’s unanimous impeachment of President Ojeda was that a few key job responsibilities were not being performed, which hindered communication and was in violation of the bylaws,” Klein said. “We were under the impression that removing him would open the door for a replacement who could uphold these requirements and help ASUCD run more smoothly.” 

Raghunathan’s impeachment resolution specifically says that her leadership resulted in bias and disorder during more than one Senate meeting, which Leschyn said alluded to an incident at a Senate town hall meeting in which she clashed with a member of the student body during public comment. 

“Throughout this past quarter, it has been revealed that there was not just mediocrity from the [IVP], but a severe underperformance,” Leschyn said. “[Because the IVP] is the member of the executive branch that is probably the one most closely beholden to the Senate, the presiding officer of the Senate and is in a high-level position that’s representing ASUCD and this student body, we thought that they should be kept to the highest standard.” 

On Dec. 11, the Davis College Democrats (DCD) released a statement that criticized the Senate’s choice to pass the resolutions in a closed special session. 

“While we do not seek to defend the actions and records of either President Ojeda nor Vice President Raghunathan, we unequivocally condemn and call out this undemocratic and precipitous move by members of the ASUCD Senate table,” the statement reads. 

DCD President and co-author of the statement Aiden Ledbetter said that it was not his place to comment on the reasoning behind the impeachments, but that DCD takes issue with the manner in which the resolutions were passed. 

“There were no announcements that impeachment resolutions were going to be considered within this meeting,” Ledbetter said. “When the actual meeting came about, they ended up completely dropping the whole censure and went straight for [impeaching] the President and IVP, which [DCD] thinks is completely unfair to the student body.”

Ledbetter then said that it is concerning that the duly elected executive branch can be impeached without any warning to them or the student body. 

“I think the way they did that is completely undemocratic in that we can have a [meeting closed to the public] where we can just remove these representatives who have been fighting for us this whole time without any sort of conversation with [the student body],” Ledbetter continued.

Ledbetter also personally feels that a threshold has not been met to warrant the Senate table’s actions. 

“I think these impeachments have a higher bar that [the impeached] need to cross for them to be, in my view, legitimate,” Ledbetter said. “I say that just because there is so much that ASUCD does to benefit and help the lives of all students. I mean, they run Unitrans [and] so many of the committees and commissions that go on to use our tuition dollars to improve our lives.”

Ledbetter hopes that the impeachment proceedings will bring about a longer conversation into the operations of ASUCD and movement away from “personal, slimy politics that [have] happened within the Senate table.” 

Leschyn said that he stands by his decision to impeach both President and IVP. 

“I do think that fall quarter was kind of embarrassing on [the President and IVP’s] side for a lot of things,” Leschyn said. “They’ve been in this position for a really long time, and things have not gone well. Whether or not they do improve, it could be too little too late in terms of what they’ve actually been able to do.”

Klein concluded with his comments on both impeachments as a whole.

“Regardless of the outcome, communication, transparency and accountability are paramount,” Klein said. “ I look forward to seeing an executive branch that prioritizes these values, whether it be President Ojeda and Vice President Raghunathan or whoever replaces them. I know the Judicial Council will exercise its power fairly and I trust that their decision to uphold or overturn the impeachment resolutions will be made carefully.”

 

Written by: Vince Basadacampus@theaggie.org

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