Inform the students, and their senators

NICK FISHER, Executive Editor

In last week’s senate meeting, certain NISG senators proposed a bill to form an investigative committee to impeach student body president Katie Evans. The bill listed allegations of “abuse of power, unethical behavior, tardiness, absence, alcohol use [and] negligence.”

Senators and directors alike referred to a list of allegations, or grievances, and prefaced their statements with whether or not they had seen the allegations.

Speaker Parker Bennett forbade the debate from any direct discussion of allegations due to their personal nature. However, senator Danielle Massey said that vice president Renae Beard compiled this list of grievances, which Senator Aaron Friel called, “rather extensive and wide in scope.”

Friel at a later point stated: “I have not seen the evidence due to my potential influence on the investigative committee.” Friel would have been a member of the investigation committee due to his status as a standing committee chair.

Sitting in on the meeting, I noticed quite a few confusing contradictions among statements from senators, of which Friel’s statements are just one example.

Senator Natalie Kaufman, in an email to the NI, confirmed that: “Senators were shown the entire list of allegations… that were compiled by Beard, myself, and others.

It was a several page document providing a description of each particular incident. This list was shown before the vote to all members of the Senate,” she said.

Though the vote to form the committee failed to pass, with a 4-15-2 vote, it is important to know the reference point for the discussion with which NISG had been occupying a significant portion of its time for at least a week.

However, it appeared that certain senators weren’t operating with the same information in regards to the allegations, due to statements made during the NISG meeting.

This seems to be problematic when deciding if allegations are worthy of forming a committee to investigate; it’s like two people being asked to give directions and only one of them has ever been in the country before.

One senator [Hofmeyer] said she only heard “second and third hand accounts” of the allegations, and that the discussion surrounding them was “remarkably gossipy.”

At another point, Hofmeyer seemed to imply she had seen a list of allegations.

“From what I saw from allegations, lack of communication seems to be the largest issue here,” she said.

This senator voted against the formation of an investigative committee.

Additionally, Senator Massey made statements in the meeting that contradict the statement Kaufman supplied to the NI.

“Many senators found out because they were directly approached by upper cabinet members, and although I was not directly approached, other senate members were,” she said.

Massey voted against the formation of the committee.

When senators vote on a bill without adequate knowledge of the situation, this is important for the public to know. When the public is barred from knowing what NISG had spent significant time discussing, it is the duty of the journalist to hold them accountable

I’m not saying the claims against Evans were grounds for impeachment; or even an investigation, for that matter. But what it seems, from watching on at the senate meeting Nov. 11, is that senators from both sides of the vote hadn’t necessarily seen the allegations directly. Not everyone was on the same playing field.

Perhaps this oversight comes from unfamiliarity; this is new and unconsidered ground for most in student government. But when students elect competent senators, this means that it is a representative bodies’ duty to be informed; to vote on the same playing field, with the same information.

Furthermore, when the senate is considering removing an elected official from office the public — that is, the students who elected said official — should know about it. Evans, in her various leadership roles, is involved with handling student money, and the same is true of the rest of the upper cabinet and senate. So any time our representatives are thinking of making a change, we should know about it and know the reasons for it.

The Northern Iowan last Friday submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain this list of grievances against Evans.

If there is a truly grounds for impeachment, than the public should know; or at least senators have read the claims before casting a meaninful vote.


Nick Fisher