Members of the 34th Student Senate voted to impeach a senior senator for negligence of duty during Monday night’s meeting.
Senior Sen. Shayla Hogan, 21, moved to impeach the offender, Sen. Crystal House, because House has not attended meetings regularly and has not explained her absences or resigned.
Several members of the Senate said this is House’s second term as a senator. When she was an active member last year and at the beginning of the fall 2004 semester, she attended meetings and handled her responsibilities.
When House began to miss meetings, senate leadership and members of the Judicial and Rules Committee, which House serves on, tried to alleviate the situation by contacting her about her absences and later asking her to turn in her letter of resignation.
Hogan said she began to ask senators to investigate the situation during the middle of last semester and she moved for the impeachment Monday.
“It’s gotten to the point where it’s inconvenient to the Senate and to students,” said Hogan, a broadcast journalism student from Orlando.
“Another senior senator could be in office.”
J&R chairperson Keon Hardemon said he talked to House about her resignation and she agreed to resign, yet she never turned in her official letter to the Senate.
Although the Senate impeached House, she was formally accused of neglecting her duties, and will be a senator until she turns in her letter of resignation or is voted out by a percentage of her class.
Currently, House is an impeached senator, but she is still a member of the Senate.
Senate leadership said they have also been dealing with the situation.
“The senate does not have the power to remove a senator. I have talked with members of the Board of Trustees, the General Counselor and Student Activities and Student Union director, Alice Mathis about the problem,” said Senate President Ramon Alexander, a 20-year-old political science student.
The impeachment proceedings allow the judicial branch of SGA to investigate the matter.
Hardemon, a 21-year-old business administration student from Miami, said the matter must be investigated to make sure that the allegations are valid.
Although the Senate was able to impeach members last year, new rules created for student governments by the state remove this power. The new rules now require a petition for senator removals, which lengthens the impeachment process.
“Senate leadership can no longer remove senators,” said Alexander, a native of Tallahassee.
“We have to improve the system of holding senators accountable, because it is a long process,” he said.
Hogan said she plans to create a petition consisting of 1/3 of House’s class that voted her into office, which will allow someone else to gain the position.
After a petition is presented, members of the senior class will have to vote for House’s removal.
The lengthy process of removing senators affects the ability of the Senate to hold senators not upholding duties accountable.
Members of the Senate have different views about where the responsibility of accountability lies, because many students do not know they have the power to impeach senators or which senators may not be representing them.
“Many students don’t have full understanding of what senators do and we (senators) have the responsibility of having a system of checks and balances on each other,” said Hogan.
When House’s position becomes vacant, the Senate will advertise for a new senior senator.
“I am sad because this had to happen and I am sure House is going through some personal issues that led to this problem,” said Senate Pro-Tempore Jessica Larche, a 20-year-old political science student from New Orleans.
“This (impeachment) is not a personal attack against anyone, but we have to make sure that students are represented at the best capacity.”
House was unable to be reached for comment.
Contact Ebonie Ledbetter at firstname.lastname@example.org