By Syeda Sameeha, News Reporter
Student Government Association (SGA) members voted on the impeachment of Vice President of Public Relations Bri Uriostegui during their meeting on Nov. 16.
Prior to this meeting, SGA held a closed meeting only open to SGA members and advisors on Nov. 9 to discuss issues leading up to the impeachment.
SGA President Estrella Vargas said, “We had a closed meeting because there had been growing tensions and talks of impeachment, but nobody was saying anything. People have expressed not being able to voice their opinions or were intimidated, this closed meeting was a chance for everyone to say their piece now.”
SGA Senator Joshua Bucens lead the impeachment process and brought forth a petition to impeach Uriostegui on Nov. 8.
The petition stated, “In her conduct while vice president of public relations of the Student Government Organization of Elmhurst College, [Uriostegui] is in violation of her constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of vice president of public relations of the Student Government Association, has engaged in conduct that resulted in misuse of her high office.”
Along with Bucens, this petition had the signatures of SGA Senators Angel Madrigal, Carlos Cantu, Laura Rusk, Alexandria Schultz, Marissa Gariti, Alexander Finnegan, and Daniela Barca.
At the Nov. 16 meeting, the plaintiffs who lead the impeachment petition presented their case. Uriostegui also gave a presentation.
Bucens explained that one of the reasons for impeachment was because of lack of PR to the student body about SGA events and activities.
“With Bri, we just felt like she hasn’t been able to fulfill her duties as assigned by the association, I think part of that speaks to how many people we’ve had at some of these events on campus,” said Bucens.
Bucens also said Uriostegui failed to hold meetings for the Public Relations committee.
“I’ve noticed the committee meetings have been canceled before because of tests. As far as I know, we hold an elite position within our student body and we know when our tests are because we all have a syllabus,” explained Bucens. “I don’t think we can cancel committee meetings for things like tests. There are things that we need to get done, and it’s important that we meet.”
Bucens also stated Uriostegui failed to execute initiatives that have been suggested and put forth to the board.
Failure to maintain social media was also another reason the petitioners brought forth impeachment.
“The SGA Facebook page hasn’t been updated. That’s something that should be updated weekly. It started in November I believe versus stuff that happened early September. These are things that are so important and need to be maintained. It’s so important to reach our student body,” said Bucens.
Lastly, Bucens cited a portion of the SGA Constitution which said, “Public Relations Committee shall divide, execute, coordinate, and multitask a year long marketing strategy designed to create and promote interest in student government.”
“I haven’t seen that marketing strategy come forth and I think that’s such an important piece of big picture just because if you don’t have a plan, what are you working on each week,” explained Bucens. “An agenda is one thing, but we need to see whole plans to make sure we are sticking to that plan and to make sure we are accomplishing and what we are supposed to accomplish with that plan.”
During the meeting, Uriostegui presented a packet to each SGA member that included PR materials for SGA events, minutes, and agendas from SGA retreats and the Public Relations Committee, as well as email correspondence between SGA members and advisors.
“Even when I was given an event at short notice, I was still able to get some sort of PR out. When someone starts lacking on a job when they are normally on top of things, wouldn’t that bring some suspicion that maybe something is wrong,” said Uriostegui. “I suffer from depression and anxiety and for whatever reason, my depression began to worsen. I chose to step away from other leadership positions and dropped a class, but SGA never was an option for me. I worked too hard to become elected in this position that I am in.”
Uriostegui admits members of the Public Relations Committee were not delegated with tasks at first, but said there was a lack of communication and carrying out of duties.
“Looking to my committee I will admit that I did not give them much to do at first, but when only one person comes to your first three or so meetings and only one person responds to your emails and only one person actually does anything to do delegate, would you really trust the other person with SGA’s social media?” said Uriostegui.
“I have not finished my time in this position nor in this organization just yet. Whether I am on the executive board, a simple rep, or just a student, this is not the last you will hear from me, I am passionate about change and sad that some of you cannot see it.”
After the two sides presented their cases, Uriostegui was asked to step out of the room in order for the board to continue discussion, ask questions to the plaintiffs, and vote on the proposal for impeachment.
Once Uriostegui had stepped out, SGA Vice President of Finance Emma Kaminski questioned the plaintiffs on why impeachment was the first approach.
“After going to the advisors, and they said look at the constitution, first thing you pulled from the constitution was impeachment instead of mediating and bringing people together with the advisors to help lower intimidation?” asked Kaminski.
In the end, impeachment of Uriostegui from the position of Vice President of Public Relations did not go through. In total, there were seven votes in support of impeachment and twelve votes against; not meeting the necessary two-thirds majority needed for impeachment.
In response to the impeachment meeting, Uriostegui remarked, “I feel the impeachment kind of set the tone of how we do things in the future. I feel like we are all kind of on the same page and we just want to move forward and we want to start collaborating with each other more.”
Vargas agreed saying that she was disappointed that this was the first step taken to make any kind of change and wished that there had been an initial conversation.
Bucens was disappointed with the results.
“I am concerned with what I feel is the lack of accountability that is seems to be present in our organization,” he said.
Bucens also touched on lack of structure within SGA.
“I think [the impeachment process] was a messy discussion with poor moderation. The whole proceeding was poorly structured, but that is because our constitution right now, is as well.”