10 student senators face potential impeachment after voting against diversity bill
- The diversity bill would allot “historically underrepresented” groups free spots in the senate.
Ten senators at Colorado State University (CSU) are currently facing threats of impeachment after they voted against a diversity bill that would allot “historically underrepresented” groups free spots in the senate.
Some of their peers now claim the dissenting votes were a violation of the student government’s constitution.
According to an email obtained by Campus Reform, the judicial arm of the Associated Students of Colorado State University (ASCSU) launched an investigation into the constitutionality of electing to dissent from the majority view after the bill failed to pass.
“Under Article IV, Section 400 of the ASCSU Constitution, the judicial power of ASCSU shall be vested in the Supreme Court. This power shall include, but is not limited to, interpreting, upholding, and enforcing the ASCSU Constitution as well as the acts of the Senate. Consequently, the Court will be conducting a judicial review of the Bill 4514: “Diversity Bill” to determine the overall compliance of the legislative proceedings leading to its failed passage,” Chief Justice Nick Dannemiller wrote in an email to all members of the ASCSU.
One student senator who voted against the bill argued that she and her fellow senators are not required to vote in accordance with the opinions of their college councils.
“I believe it’s article II section 203 that states that we aren’t beholden to the opinions of our college councils,” Senator Sarah Bruce told Campus Reform.
Article II Section 203 of the ASCSU constitution does in fact grant senators the individual privilege of casting all votes according to their own consciences. Although senators are asked to “seek advisement on a regular basis from the appropriate representative body of the college from which the Senator is elected,” they are guaranteed “the authority to cast all votes, as they deem fit and proper in accordance with the knowledge they have and the dictates of their conscience.”
At the end of his email, Dannemiller advised members of the ASCSU to abide by the governing body’s code of conduct by not “engaging in behavior or activities that obstruct the right of free speech or expression of any person on campus,” despite his own investigation into the constitutionality of freely casting a dissenting vote.
Dannemiller, who claims his role is one of “interpreting, upholding, and enforcing” the constitution, is encouraging members of the ASCSU to seek an “alternative method” to pass the bill and provides some possibilities.
“In the meantime, for those wishing to pursue an alternative method for enacting the bill’s goal, please refer to Article IX, Section 902 of the ASCSU Constitution. The Constitution may be amended through the upcoming general election through a majority vote, with no less than 10% of the members of ASCSU voting,” he wrote.
“I think it directly challenges us as senators and invalidates our vote just because they don’t agree with it,” Bruce said in response to the judicial review. “It literally shows that he’s entering the judicial review with an explicit bias.”
The diversity bill, if passed, would have amended the constitution to include a provision that would allot three diversity offices on campus a seat in the senate.
“The Student Diversity Programs and Services Offices and the Adult Learner and Veteran Service Office and the Office of International Programs shall be represented with one Senator per office and shall be appointed to office at the discretion of that office,” the amendment states, according to a copy of the bill obtained by Campus Reform.
Bruce said she voted against the bill because it explicitly excluded religious groups from holding one of the new diversity seats on the senate. She told Campus Reform ASCSU president Jason Sydoriak did not feel comfortable allocating seats to religious groups, including a CSU Hillel house. The Hillel house, according to Bruce, is both a religious and cultural organization yet ASCSU refused to include it in the bill.
Any bill that amends the ASCSU constitution must pass with a two-thirds majority vote in two consecutive senate sessions. Bill 4514, also known as “The Diversity Bill,” passed with a strong majority in its first round in the senate but failed to pass a second time Wednesday after a vote of 17-10-0.
At least two demonstrations erupted on campus when the bill failed to pass. Student Kwon Atlas, a co-author of the diversity bill, spoke to a crowd of students after the senate session broke out.
“I believe in this organization regardless of this night,” he said. “I believe that we can lead Colorado and we can lead this country.”
Another woman attending the demonstration encouraged students to infiltrate the student government in an apparent attempt to stomp out conservative voices in the senate.
“Can I mention something to you all? The senator that is in charge of recruiting new senators is one of them that voted against it, so if you want to get in here and have a vote at the table you need to come to us,” she said.
“No fucking shit!” another student shouted in response.
“They stomped on our voice, and it’s time to stomp back,” said another.
Atlas then created a private Facebook page, accessed by Campus Reform, to recruit protesters and gather signatures for a petition to put the diversity bill on the ballot during the spring election for all students to vote on. Atlas needs to collect 3000-5000 student signatures in order for ASCSU to reconsider the bill.
Atlas also mentioned that the petition would include a measure ordering the impeachment of the ten dissenting senators.
“We need 3000-5000 signatures to put the diversity bill on the ballot and 300-500 signatures to impeach the previously mentioned senators,” Atlas wrote.
A screenshot of the post, obtained by Campus Reform, shows that Atlas included a list of names of the senators who voted against the bill.
“Our names were put on their Facebook page so they know who to hate,” Bruce told Campus Reform, adding that she and her fellow senators have been harassed by their classmates for voting against the bill.
Atlas later deleted the post but rumors of impeachment continue to circulate, according to Bruce. In fact, Altas admitted to his calls for impeachment in a series of posts on his social media accounts.
In one case, student senator Kassi Prochazka, who voted no on the bill, politely reached out to Atlast to suggest an alternative way forward.
“I did vote no on your bill tonight but it wasn’t because I felt it would take power from my position or anything like that but because I felt that it was not the best way to get representation,” she wrote.
“Please no longer contact me, please resign from ASCSU and please drop out of CSU. You do not deserve to be a ram and you definitely do not deserve to be a senator of this institution,” Atlas replied.
In another instance, Atlas called on his fellow students to add their signatures to a petition calling for the resignation of the dissenting senators.
“Today, I am a revolutionary. There will be a protest Monday in front of the ASCSU office and we will begin petitioning for the Diversity Senators Amendments and the resignation of the ten senators who voted against the diversity bill. Tuesday we will be on the plaza collecting signatures as well. Wednesday we will shut senate down,” he wrote.
Atlas himself, whose original name is allegedly Kwan Yearby but uses the alias of “Atlas” on social media, was impeached last year for “cases of harassment and intimidation.” According to the Rocky Mountain Collegian, he forced unwanted conversations and threatened the impeachment of other senators.
Additional protests are scheduled to occur throughout the week. Although Atlas claimed calls for impeachment were removed from the petition upon hearing the senators were being investigated under an internal review, a copy of the petition has yet to be released to the public. Bruce said that neither she nor any of her fellow senators who voted against the bill have been allowed to see the petition.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski