On Wednesday, the Notre Dame student senate discussed a bill of impeachment put forward against Carroll Hall senator Hunter Brooke.
A majority of senators voted not to move to an impeachment trial after the Student Union Ethics Commission (SUEC) issued a bill of impeachment after Brooke contacted first-years in FUEL (First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership) about a “senatorial aid” position.
Student body vice president Sofie Stitt addressed requests to close the meeting, which would have required all guests or individuals not on the senate roll call to leave. Judicial Council president Madison Nemeth said discussions of disciplinary actions should be closed but are not required to be.
“We’re not required to close the meeting,” she said. “It takes a two-thirds vote to close the meeting. However, the standard code of parliamentary procedure, which the constitution does require you to follow, says that for disciplinary actions, meetings should be closed.”
Brooke chose to waive his right to close the meeting.
“I know that meetings are closed for that reason: to protect the reputation of the defendant,” he said. “And I’m really appreciative, as the defendant for that. But I don’t see any need to do that, and I’m happy to waive that right and keep the meeting open.”
Because no motion was made to close the meeting, the meeting continued and Stitt read a letter from the SUEC.
“Any member of the student union may report issues to the Student Union Ethics Commission,” she read. “The Student Union Ethics Commission, or the SUEC, shall then convene to review the allegation and provide a recommendation regarding further action. If a bill of impeachment is the recommendation of the SUEC, it will be brought before the senate at the next meeting.”
“A bill of impeachment,” she continued, “shall cite specific allegations of misconduct. Misconduct — this is from the constitution — shall include disturbance of peace and content or negligent performance. Disregard is already in the student union violation of constitutional bylaws.”
If a majority of senators vote to move toward an impeachment hearing, the alleged individual can present evidences and witnesses in his defense. The senators would then need a two-thirds vote to remove the individual from his position. Stitt clarified that the senators would merely be voting if the proceedings warrant a move toward a hearing.
“What you guys are deciding today,” she said, “is [if] what you’ve seen merits a hearing that will happen not next week, but when we get back.”
The senators had an opportunity to question Nemeth regarding the procedure of the recommendation. They asked how the complaint came, how Judicial Council gathered evidence to recommend the bill of impeachment, how advisory members in the committee were chosen and what disciplinary actions should follow.
The senators then moved toward a debate, which required Brooke to leave the room. Because Montgomery Auditorium had been reserved for a later event, the senate only had a few minutes to debate.
Senator James Baird yielded his time to former Judicial Council president David Haungs, who recommended not to proceed with a hearing.
“The report as such has two strains. First, that the supposed violation [is] based on the idea that ‘senatorial aid’ is not a position mentioned in the documents of the Student Union or the Senate. The second is that the supposed violations are based on the fact that Hunter contacted students who already have another position,” he explained. “These two strains of arguments should be laughed out of the room, [and] you should get back to business that matters.”
At 6:38 p.m., because time was running out, the senate moved to the Resource Center on the third floor of LaFortune Student Center to continue their debate. However, the senators only had until 7 p.m. to debate the matter.
The senate discussed options to yield the matter until next semester. However, a majority of the senators voted to proceed the debate and extend time until 7:10 p.m.
Keough Hall Senator Derick Williams yielded his time to former senator Benjamin Erhardt, who was a senator the last time an impeachment inquiry was presented.
“You’re voting to go on a hearing, but you’re also voting to impeach him,” he said. “I think that should only happen when there’s a very, very clear instance, knowing intent to violate some sort of constitutional provision, or many provisions violated if there wasn’t an intent there. I don’t see that in this case.”
“One of the really big focuses of us as a FUEL is to not overwhelm the FUELers, to be very intentional with how we present Student Union to them,” Joey Kositzke, co-director of FUEL, said. “Having information spread like that really undermines the work that we do.”
“If you’re letting one person go around every other body of power, where are we putting senate in the rankings of power?” Keenan Hall senator Connor McCloskey said. “Just please consider the ethics of what we’re doing, even if we just motion to make this into a hearing and then we don’t impeach.”
Stitt put on the floor a motion to vote on the bill of impeachment. After the motion passed, the senators voted on to the bill of impeachment, to either move forward with a hearing or drop the matter.
A majority of the senators voted not to proceed with a hearing, and the senate motioned to recess until next semester.
Contact Sam Godinez at firstname.lastname@example.org.