ASUC impeachment process to be discussed by senate

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The ASUC governance and internal affairs committee discussed an amendment Monday that could potentially implement an impeachment process for elected officials.

The discussions arose partly in response to anonymous harassing emails several ASUC senators received earlier in the term. The new language drafted in the amendment creates a standard for impeachment and a system by which an official must be reviewed by the entire senate and ASUC Judicial Council if charges are brought up against them.

The committee passed the amendment on to the senate, which will discuss the issue Wednesday. The amendment may or may not be put into the Constitutional Clarity and Consistency Amendment Referendum, which aims to resolve current inconsistencies in the ASUC Constitution.

The amendment states that the new impeachment procedures can be employed against an elected official by a petition signed by seven elected officials and submitted to the chair of the judicial council. The petition should only be drafted due to serious abuse of office or failure to perform their duties, serious academic misconduct, serious misconduct such as assault and harassment or expulsion from UC Berkeley.

The new impeachment amendment also includes the installation of an open impeachment trial, which will be presided over by the chair of the judicial council.

Elected officials would be permanently removed from the office if, at the end of the trial, the motion to impeach is passed by a two-thirds vote of the senate. Additionally, senators could be temporarily suspended from the office, any ASUC body or from entering ASUC spaces for the duration of the impeachment procedures.

Elected officials can currently be removed if they are recalled by a two-thirds vote of the student body at a special election. Officials can also be removed if they have too many unexcused absences from meetings. But senators can remain in office for up to one semester after they have involuntarily lost their student status if they can demonstrate that they are challenging UC Berkeley’s registration block.

“I believe the purpose of (the current policy) is to protect officials who are late on paying their tuition or have some other minor registration block,” said ASUC Senate vice chair Alek Klimek in an email. “It also helps to insulate the ASUC so that the university can’t suspend/expel officials for political reasons, which has potentially been an issue in the past during (the Free Speech Movement) or Occupy Cal.”

ASUC Senator Dree Kavoussi, who cosponsors SB-62, said she also believes the ASUC should not wholly align themselves with the UC Berkeley Campus Code of Student Conduct. Kavoussi says the new multi-layer system will make senator misconduct cases much more concrete.

Apart from the drafting of the impeachment amendment, the senate committees passed a total of 10 bills on to the senate during their respective meetings. The bills addressed issues such as the potential increase of student activity fees, a potential mandatory wellness referendum fee, the ASUC Sexual Assault Commission and solar energy reinvestments.

The senate will consider the amendment and other bills at their Wednesday meeting.

Contact Jessie Qian at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @jessieq96.