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SA Senate formally files impeachment charges against Brookins

File Photo by Grace Hromin | Assistant Photo Editor
Brookins condemned LeBlanc’s oversight of a planned 20 percent reduction in the undergraduate population and of the strategic planning process, which were paused amid the pandemic.

Updated: Jan. 27, 2020 at 7:05 p.m.

The Student Association Senate has formally filed impeachment charges against SA President Howard Brookins.

SA Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CPS-G, and SA Sen. Sebastian Weinmann, Law-G, submitted a petition to Student Court Chief Judge Maggie O’Brien Wednesday outlining four bylaw and constitution violations as potential grounds for impeachment. The majority of the senate, 39 of 43 members, signed onto the petition in support of beginning impeachment proceedings, surpassing the one-third of senators needed to launch the process.

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Dozens of student organizations and senators have called for Brookins to quit over the past week, citing claims of sexual misconduct and “inappropriate actions” in his capacity serving the SA executive branch. Brookins did not immediately return a request for comment on the impeachment proceedings, and he was not present when senators discussed the petition at a senate meeting Monday.

The petition states that Brookins “neglected” to represent the SA to the University community; to make appointments and nominations, fill vacancies and organize the executive branch; to nominate and appoint students to University advisory councils and the Joint Committee of Faculty and Students; and to appoint an elections commissioner to the Joint Elections Commission, which oversees SA elections, by Oct. 1. All responsibilities identified in the petition are required of the SA president, according to the organization’s bylaws and constitution.

The petition was also sent to Brookins and SA Executive Vice President Brandon Hill, who has publicly and privately called for Brookins’ resignation in recent days.

Weinmann, the law school senator, said in an interview that the chief judge must now consult with the senate’s presiding officer – Hill – to set a date and time for an impeachment hearing. A court hearing must take place between 10 to 15 days after Brookins receives notice of his charges, he said.

Weinmann said Student Bar Association Sen. Andrew Wise will serve as the SA’s prosecutor for the case because the body’s bylaws prohibit an SA senator from acting in that position. Senators participating in the case will vote on each charge separately via secret ballot during the trial, he said.

Falcigno said in an interview that senators have a responsibility to listen to the presented evidence and to Brookins’ side of the story.

“Our process moving forward is to really listen to all that’s presented and vote on each of the charges when the time comes and be fair,” Falcigno said. “So that’s how we’ll be playing a role moving forward.”

O’Brien, the chief judge, confirmed that she has received the petition from Weinmann and Falcigno. She said a hearing date has not yet been finalized.

“It is the role of the chief judge, as chair of the impeachment proceedings, to impartially preside over these proceedings,” O’Brien said in an email. “It is my intention, as well as the intention of the court, to uphold this duty to the best of our ability.”

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with comments from O’Brien.

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