Walker resigns after Senate and Treasury initiate impeachment inquiry following fall election
Student Union Election Commissioner junior Randal Walker resigned from her position, Nov. 20.
The resignation comes on the heels of the executive officers voting not to recall Walker from her position, Nov. 18, and a joint legislative body vote to jumpstart an impeachment investigation, Nov. 19.
After presiding over a bungled fall election cycle, in which the voting platform had to be updated twice to correct errors in the voting process, Walker released a press statement that contained false information about voter data. At the same time, she released the results of the election, even after Constitutional Council urged her to keep them bottled up until after the Council had finished its investigation.
On Monday, the Executive Board voted not to recall Walker from her position. VP of Public Relations sophomore Beth Wiesinger and VP of Finance junior Ariel Ashie voted in favor of the recall, with President junior Tyrin Truong and VP of Administration junior Nia Plump voting against. VP of Programming junior Charlotte Pohl, who filed the recall petition, abstained from the vote.
Following the vote, during Senate and Treasury’s joint session open forum, Treasury representative sophomore Fadel Alkilani presented a document to initiate an impeachment inquiry and a new Constitutional Council investigation. The new investigation would have been on the grounds of “incongruence with the constitution,” as opposed to the recall investigation that centered around dereliction of duties as Election Commissioner.
To pass, two-thirds of Treasury would have to vote in favor of initiating a Constitutional Council investigation and it would have to attain a majority vote in the Senate.
Alkilani presented the articles for impeachment, arguing that Walker’s actions clearly justified an impeachment investigation.
“If SU never holds anyone accountable, why even have an impeachment system in place? … Having someone who has clearly been shown to be incompetent, to oversee an election that the results of no one will trust because that person has done so badly in their job—that’s exactly what impeachment is for,” Alkilani said.
Several officers expressed hesitation in discussing impeachment without Walker present, posing the idea to table the discussion for a later date. When Walker was notified of the discussion and arrived at the meeting, she was not asked to speak.
Two recesses were called during the nearly three-hour session, with Senate speaker junior Steven Kish and Treasury speaker junior Alexa Jochims reminding the body of SU’s values and asking the officers to take time to breathe.
Junior Destiny Jackson said that, as a member of the Election Commission, she felt overpowered by the direction in which the discussion was taken.
“I was really disappointed in how it was handled. I was sitting there in awe. Randal wasn’t there, she gets there and nobody asks her any questions,” Jackson said. “She sat there and listened to people drag her without any remorse to what she could have been thinking.”
Jackson stood by the Commission’s decision to release the election results against the Council writ, saying that, with the information that was available to them at the time, they made the best decision they could.
The move to initiate an impeachment inquiry passed in the Treasury, 12-2, and in the Senate, 18-1.
After the session, Walker expressed her disappointment with the vote.
“I don’t feel like the full story of what happened was looked at and people came in here after days of listening to rumor mills, which leads to clouded hearts and pressed minds,” Walker said. “Constitutional Council took it into their own hands and let it get emotional and now it’s come to what it is.”
Truong said that he felt that the executive officers were not respected following Tuesday’s vote to proceed with impeachment. Before the resignation, the final verdict would have returned to the hands of Constitutional Council, which already unanimously voted to recall her from her position as a result of Pohl’s petition. If the Council voted to remove Walker from office, the decision would have solely been a result of the Council and the legislative body’s vote.
Troung said he feels there is a general disrespect for the exec board among SU entities.
“This isn’t the first time that this has happened and I’m starting to think that it’s racial bias in play,” Truong said. “Our exec board is majority Black, and there are complications that come with that. I just think we’re held too much higher, almost impossible standards, double standards.”
Ashie, who voted to recall Walker, still expressed disappointment over the way the session and impeachment discussion unfolded.
“I honestly wanted to believe that something like this wouldn’t happen, but all the reps did what they felt they needed to to uphold their constitutional duties,” Ashie said. “No one enjoys this, this is not what Student Union should be about, and it’s just unfortunate that it’s happening, but we are where we are.”
The vote and subsequent resignation has resulted in a legislative body largely in favor of proceeding with impeachment led by a president who voted not to recall. Truong said that despite the divisiveness of the situation, he wants SU to continue to prioritize its constituents.
“Everybody should sit back for a minute, come to their senses and then come back to the table,” Truong said. “Because right now, Student Union is in chaos… I just hope that everybody sits back and thinks about their actions, the intent of their actions.”
Walker’s resignation was announced Nov. 20 by the Executive Officers in a post to SU’s website. Truong also sent an email to the student body opening applications for Election Commissioner.
“[I’m] just trying to put out the fires,” Truong said. “There have been plenty over the last 24 hours. In my role as president, I’m just trying to minimize the impact.”
Additional reporting by Curran Neenan