Impeachment thwarted at BSG
May 4, 2018
After an election marred with misunderstandings and an inconsistent enforcement of rules, Aneka Kazlyna ’20, multicultural representative to Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), introduced articles of impeachment against two members of BSG on Wednesday night for actions that occurred during the BSG chairs election. As this week’s BSG meeting was the last of the year and students were stepping down from their positions regardless, the assembly voted not to hold an additional meeting, effectively terminating the impeachment process.
Kazlyna claims she and Fanta Traore ’20, who ran together on an unofficial ticket, were intentionally targeted by BSG members during the election, and she decided to pursue the impeachment.
The first member Kazlyna wished to impeach was held under three articles: (1) injurious actions towards other members of the general assembly; (2) violation of the Bowdoin Student Government constitution and preamble and failure to serve the very students it means to serve and represent all with complete fairness; (3) under the accountability clause, did not report the inappropriate behavior he/she witnessed on April 22, 2018.
The second member was also held under three articles: (1) violation of the preamble of the Bowdoin Student Government constitution; (2) injurious actions towards other members of the general assembly; (3) failure to advocate for the students as per the constitution and accountability clause.
During the final days of voting, Kazlyna and Traore were called to appear before the Election Commission for a potential violation of campaigning laws. During their campaign, they emailed about 400 members of the student body and tabled in David Saul Smith Union.
The pair did so under the impression that these actions were legal under BSG bylaws after BSG President Irfan Alam ’18 expressly gave them permission to use these campaigning tactics. Last week, Alam admitted that he had incorrectly explained the rules to candidates during an information session.
In the election commission hearing, Kazlyna and Traore were accused of violating BSG bylaws by sending mass emails, but were not charged with any violations because in previous elections, candidates had done the same and had not recieved punishment. The election was held again due to the confusion, and the second election was presided over by the chair and vice chair of the Judicial Board.
“It was clear to me that the hearing was a blatant attempt by certain members of the BSG executive team to abuse their power and disqualify us. By their actions, those certain members failed to follow the very preamble and constitution they were elected to uphold. They tainted the trust and reputation of the BSG by targeting us,” said Kazylna in a statement to the Orient.
Kazlyna claims that a member of BSG approached their campaigning table in Smith Union and ripped off a poster, after Kazlyna told the member that Alam had permitted the tabling. She said that another BSG member who witnessed the incident occur failed to intervene. They allege that the hearing and poster incidents are impeachable offenses.
In the general assembly meeting on Wednesday night, Alam motioned to enter executive session because he had received prior notification that articles of impeachment would be introduced, and BSG Procedure for Impeachment stipulates that a member of the assembly can only introduce articles of impeachment in an executive session. During an executive session, only voting members of the BSG may be present in the room; a two-thirds vote of the assembly is required to enter such a session.
Kazlyna motioned to allow the Orient, her running mate Traore and Jenna Scott ’19, current head of programming and operations (a non-voting position) and newly elected chair of the Student Organizations Oversight Committee, to be present in the room for the proceedings, for reasons of transparency. The assembly voted to remove the Orient and Traore from the room, but permitted Scott to stay, and proceedings occurred behind closed doors. Notes from the proceedings will not appear in the official BSG minutes, and members of the general assembly are not allowed to report what was said.
During the executive session, the specific complaints of the petitioner may be formally entered. The articles can only be introduced in this session, however, and a subsequent BSG meeting is required to adopt the articles with a formal vote by the entire general assembly.
Because this week’s BSG meeting was the last of the semester, the assembly held a vote to decide whether to hold an additional meeting next Wednesday, May 9, when impeachment procedures would continue. The assembly voted to not convene another meeting with just one vote in favor and one abstention, effectively keeping any impeachment process from proceeding. As the meeting was the last of the year, members were stepping down from their positions regardless.
Kazlyna was frustrated with BSG’s response to her actions.
“The BSG executive team decided to remain complicit by not continuing the impeachment proceedings, simply due to the fact that the executive team was stepping down,” said Kazlyna. “They decided that no accountability would be taken for the inappropriate behavior of the two members of the BSG executive team. Their decision perpetuates the hidden corruption and only proves that they are unwilling to be transparent and fair with the student body.”
At the very end of the BSG meeting, Alam officially transferred leadership to Mohamed Nur ’19, who now serves as BSG President.
Editor’s Note May 5, 2018: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the position of Jenna Scott ’19. She is the newly elected chair of the Student Organizations Oversight Committee, not student activities.
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Why didn’t the Orient publish the names of the BSG members who were the subjects of the motions to impeach? That’s an essential part of this story.
Correction – Jenna Scott is the newly elected Chair of Student Organizations Oversight Committee, not student activities.