SGA drops impeachment proceedings against VP; clear division in Senate
Alex Bell, News Editor
Following a nearly forty minute deliberation of the Student Government Association (SGA), Vice President Andy Sanford retained his position, despite controversy at the last several meetings. However, there was a clear division in the Senate over whether or not Sanford should be allowed to stay despite the responsibilities they claim he abandoned.
Before the secret ballot, which decided Sanford’s future, the Senate was given time to address him directly. Several members asked how Sanford felt about the future, should he be allowed to stay. He responded that he felt more confident in the upcoming semester and that he would not allow the reasons he faltered in the fall semester to continue to hold him back. Several other topics were addressed, such as Sanford’s relationship with SGA President John Jarecki, his interest in the stipend that comes with the position of the Vice Presidency, and what Sanford has accomplished and what he plans on accomplishing in the future. Sanford frequently defended his actions with the claim that he would not allow what held him back before to continue into the future.
“How do you weigh 15 weeks of hard work over two weeks?” Sanford asked the Senate before the deliberation.
After this point, Sanford, Julia Guerrein, editor-in-chief of the Behrend Beacon, and Alex Bell, news editor of the Behrend Beacon, were asked to leave the room. The three were able to return to the room after the deliberation and secret ballot were held. According to several sources, the division in the Senate led to a far more interesting debate than many in the SGA were expecting.
“There was a very long and thorough discussion and I was honestly not sure how the voting would go by the end,” said Samantha Oliver, Director of Academic Affairs and senator in the SGA. She said that members of the Senate are sometimes hesitant to speak up on controversial topics, however a majority of the Senate participated in the deliberation and this lead to a significant amount of time considering the outcomes of the impeachment. Some senators still hold on to the fact that Sanford receives a stipend for his position, which seemed to push the discussion.
“[Sanford’s] position is lucrative and I feel as though the person in that position should not be excused for not completing their duties,” said Alex Oliver, Lion Entertainment Board representative and senator in the SGA. Samantha and Alex Oliver ran against Jarecki and Sanford for President and Vice President last year, which has fueled some of the opposition to Sanford’s remaining in the SGA.
“Seeing Andy do a poor job in my eyes makes me wonder how my sister would have done in the role and that is what is most hard for me about this situation. SGA means a lot to me so to see Andy [Sanford] not get impeached after skipping out on his responsibilities for 3 out of 15 weeks last semester was very surprising,” said Samantha Oliver. She also claims that Sanford has not reliably been in the SGA office, and that some individuals are still performing some of his duties for him. This causes some degree of worry for her, as she believes that Sanford is not following through on his promise to “step up his game.” However, she vehemently maintains that if Sanford has the confidence of the Senate she will remain optimistic about his ability to do well for the remainder of his term.
“[The senators] don’t always know what’s going on outside of the meetings. I think if the senate was more prepared to have this conversation it might have gone differently but I can’t say how it would have ended up,” said Alex Oliver.
Jarecki attempted to bring the Senate together after a divisive debate over Sanford. In a message to Beacon staff, he asked to avoid mention of his feelings on the topic, and to focus instead on the decision of the Senate. Similarly, he made comments about the issue of respect in the Senate. According to several senators, there were negative comments made about Sanford as a result of him missing responsibilities with other members of the SGA. Finally, Jarecki made it clear at the end of the meeting that, should Sanford ignore his duties in the future, he would bring the topic back to the attention of the Senate for further deliberation, allowing any final decisions to be firmly in the hands of the Senate.
“I can understand that from Andy's perspective it might be somewhat strange to start work again after last SGA meeting. However, I believe that through hard work and dedication he can show that he takes his tasks serious and that he has not lost his vision of Behrend,” said Constantinus Van Der Wegen, Behrend University Faculty Senate representative and senator. While there was a certain amount of strife in the Senate, Sanford will remain in his position for the time being and normal operation of the SGA should return soon.