The Student Senate of the Florida A&M University Student Government Association voted 12-6 to impeach Junior Senator Patricia Brathwaite Monday. Thirteen members abstained.
The vote came after a unanimous recommendation by the senate’s Judicial & Rules Committee (JRC) to accept a motion for impeachment made by graduate Senator Marquise McMiller.
“My independent investigation has materialized evidence that supports impeachment of Senator Patricia Brathwaite,” McMiller said in a Nov. 2 letter to the JRC. The letter outlined a 5-count indictment against Brathwaite and served as the articles of her impeachment.
All 5 counts of the indictment cited breaches of statutes contained within Title XIV of the FAMU System of Student Body Statutes, which outlines the Ethics Code.
The senate voted after hearing evidence against Brathwaite’s conduct regarding two separate campus organizations: The Royal Court of the Alpha Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, and The FAMU Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta International Law Fraternity Incorporated.
Theo President, senior Senator and president of the Alpha Eta Chapter, addressed the senate in support of Brathwaite’s impeachment.
“Most of you may know, and some of you have even formulated opinions of a situation between Ms. Brathwaite and the Alpha Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity,” President said. “Today, I do not stand here to clarify what happened but instead to make it clear that Ms. Brathwaite is in clear violation of the Student Body Statutes and the Florida Statutes."
President claimed that Brathwaite defamed not only his chapter, but also his personal character in comments she made on her social media accounts.
Text messages between President and Brathwaite, and screenshots of a direct message conversation between Brathwaite and an unnamed student, were submitted as evidence of her alleged misconduct. In them, Brathwaite allegedly questioned the sexual orientation of a member of Alpha Eta and made disparaging remarks to President and the unnamed student regarding her position on the Alpha Eta court.
Brathwaite sued Alpha Eta in Leon County Small Claims Court in August of this year after her removal by the chapter from their Royal Court.
The JCR also submitted evidence alleging that Brathwaite unlawfully investigated a law fraternity regarding a trip the organization took to Atlanta for a law forum.
McMiller stated that neither the student senate nor Brathwaite had the authority to investigate the organization because student fees were not used to fund the organization or the trip.
“Her accusations against this organization poses a risk to the integrity of that organization because they are in-fact a law fraternity wrongfully accused of breaking the law,” McMiller said.
McMiller claimed that Brathwaite continued her unsanctioned investigation even after the JCR and the senate president concluded that the senate had no jurisdiction over the organization. He eventually requested a Student Supreme Court writ of injunction to force her to cease her investigation.
Brathwaite is seeking to become a member of Phi Alpha Delta and the committee found her investigation to be a conflict of interest, as outlined in the Student Body Statutes.
Other alleged incidents with fellow senators and several unsuccessful mediations with the University Ombudsmen between Brathwaite and SGA officials were also cited, including a video Braithwaite posted to Facebook Friday defaming and cursing the J&R Committee. The video has since been removed from her page.
Brathwaite was given an opportunity to defend herself on the senate floor.
“I’ve done a lot for the senate and a lot for SGA,” Brathwaite said. “I don’t think these allegations should be the reason I’m removed from office.”
An email challenging McMiller’s allegations was sent to the senate body Sunday morning. In it, Brathwaite combated each indictment count.
“All of these counts are subjective and defames character, as they give off the idea that I am neither a good person nor a good senator,” said the email.
She also claimed that she was not given the proper forum to rebut the allegations to the J&R Committee, of which she is a member, as the meeting did not occur at their regularly scheduled meeting time and she was unable to make the re-scheduled meeting.
During her address to the senate, Brathwaite requested a leave of absence for the remainder of the fall semester.
“At this point I am tired of fighting,” Brathwaite said. “I can fight all of this, but I need to have a leave of absence to think about myself.”
Though impeachment proceedings have been officially brought against Brathwaite, she still remains a fully installed senator until her trial. The Student Body Statutes mandate that she will stand trial before the student supreme court. Should she be found guilty, a removal referendum will have to be held before she can be officially removed from office.