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Clause approved; Dworjan dodges removal

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, March 8, 2007

Morrissey Hall residents, who attended the removal hearing of impeached Morrissey senator Greg Dworjan, stood and applauded Wednesday when the Senate failed to reach the two-thirds majority required to remove Dworjan from office.

With several Manorites sitting on the edges of the room in their black and gold dorm shirts, senators spent over an hour questioning Dworjan about his motives for running a “Campaign to Abstain” in the recent student body presidential election and debated whether his actions warranted a removal from office.

Dworjan was impeached last Wednesday by a majority vote of the Senate, but last night’s vote of 15-11 failed to remove him from office.

Dworjan posted flyers telling students to vote abstain in the days leading up to the Feb. 15 run-off election for student body president and vice president. Dworjan violated a provision in the Student Union Constitution against campaigning in the student government office, located on the second floor of LaFortune, because he used the copy machine to print his posters. He also violated the Constitution by posting flyers around campus without the required approval of both the Judicial Council and the Student Activities Office.

Dworjan took the podium for the second time in two weeks and attempted to persuade senators not to vote for his removal. He said his motive was to educate students that they had an option outside of the two tickets in the run-off. He asked the senators not to remove him from office for what he said was an exercise of his “highest ethic.”

“Am I going to be removed because I participated in the democratic process and urged others to do the same?” Dworjan asked. “Is this Senate going to become the body that removes its own members for participating in this democratic process?”

Pangborn senator Sheena Plamoottil reminded Dworjan in front of the Senate body that he gave her a different reason for his actions when she spoke with him informally before his impeachment.

“You approached me and told me that you did put up these posters … and I asked you why you did it, and you said, ‘Because I can,'” said Plamoottil, who was recently selected by newly-elected student body president Liz Brown and vice president Maris Braun as their Chief Executive Assistant. “I have to wonder what your true motives are and were and whether the publicity of this hearing is coming into your actions at all.”

Dworjan wrote a Letter to the Editor that appeared in Wednesday’s edition of The Observer and also created a Facebook group that encouraged people to support him at the meeting.

Dworjan clarified his statement to Plamoottil by saying that freedom of speech gave him the right to run the campaign.

Senate Community Relations chair Josh Pasquesi told senators to put Dworjan’s “grandstanding” aside and question his true motives.

Dworjan said at last week’s Senate meeting that he did not know the Constitution prohibited using the student government office to campaign or hanging posters without approval. Senators questioned whether Dworjan would repeat his actions now that he knew he violated election bylaws with what he did.

“I would have done it the exact same way,” he said.

Several senators said they felt Dworjan’s lack of remorse for his actions could be grounds for his removal, even if they agreed with his right to run a campaign to abstain. Keough Hall senator Brian Corrigan said although he believed Dworjan’s initial actions were wrong, he didn’t think they warranted removal from office. But he said he was “bothered” by Dworjan’s statement that he would do the same thing again.

“The thing that really bothers me is you don’t see a problem with using student government resources to do any campaigning,” Corrigan said.

Dworjan told the senators he used the copy machine in the student government office because he had exhausted his print quota.

Zahm Hall senator Luke Derheimer said Dworjan’s attitude regarding his illegal actions showed “blatant disrespect” for the oath he took as Morrissey Hall senator.

“The fact that he would do it again tells me he hasn’t learned anything from this, and he doesn’t have the respect for the oath he took,” Derheimer said.

Dworjan said he believed the rules he broke in the Constitution violated his right to free speech.

“I do believe in the rules … but I don’t believe in rules that go against your conscience,” Dworjan said. He said his “highest ethic” was his conscience, not the law or what the Constitution said.

Siegfried senator Jim Lockwood said he agreed with Dworjan’s ideas about the importance of free speech, but said “there are processes and guidelines that you have to follow to exercise that freedom of speech.”

Off-campus senator Mark Healy asked the senators to vote with their constituencies in mind and consider whether removing Dworjan from office was important “in the grand scheme of things.”