The Associated Student Government failed to pass a motion that would begin the impeachment process of the student body vice president during last Thursday’s meeting. The vote was 12 in favor, 1 against and 6 abstentions.
This was the second time ASG began a motion to impeach Michaela Todd, vice president and senior communications and political science major. In order to successfully start the impeachment process, it requires two-thirds of the senate body, which would be 15 senators, according to the ASG constitution.
More than 50 students and community members attended the last ASG meeting of the semester. There were three administrators present, Deanna Williams, director of diversity programs, Jim Williams, vice president of student affairs and Lynn Hobson, dean of students.
Two uniformed ESU Police and Safety officers were also in attendance, due to safety concerns.
During the meeting, senators asked Todd questions about the interviews that she had with national news organizations, whether she would continue to use the term “illegal alien” and what steps she had taken to further her education about the topic.
Todd appeared on “Fox & Friends” and gave an interview with “Campus Reform,” an “American conservative news website focused on higher education,” according to its website.
Todd said that she would use the term again, due to its legal definition. She apologized for how her usage of “illegal aliens” hurt students, but said she did not apologize for the usage of the term itself.
Todd also said that the original post was intended only to express her support of gubernatorial candidate, Kris Kobach, and she was making the post as a student, not as the vice president of the student body.
Paul Frost, senator and junior accounting major, started the motion to begin the impeachment process.
Todd’s actions and decisions following the initial post, and her violation of her oath of office that stated she would forsake personal ambition were the reasons for starting the process, according to Frost.
For senators, the issue they were considering was whether Todd’s actions, including the interviews, the original post and her answers during the questioning could be interpreted as breaking her oath of office.
“Even though she may have referred to herself as Michaela Todd, at the end of the day, she was listed in every single article as the vice president of the student body,” said Sawyer Barragan, senator and senior Spanish major. “You cannot argue that. That is fact...In my opinion, at any point in time, no matter where you are, no matter who you’re with, if your name is included with a title, you better make sure that it’s the right title, (and) that it’s a title that you represent in every single portion of anything you do with that news source...”
The senators took a roll call vote during the impeachment motion. In a roll call vote, senators are given the opportunity to provide a rational for their vote.
Abigaile Weiser, ASG senator and senior sociology major, voted in favor of impeachment. She said that she believed Todd had broken her oath of office.
“...My understanding of our oath that we take was broken by going on national news to speak about this,” Wesier said. “I don’t see a reason for this other than personal ambition.”
Caylie Ratzlaff, member of the ASG Diversity and Inclusion Committee and junior social sciences and English education major, also voted in favor of the impeachment.
“Our committee has put a lot of time into this and I just felt that was the best option forward, especially when Vice President Todd said that she didn’t regret using the term,” Ratzlaff said. “I believe an apology is saying that you’re sorry for what you did and not saying you’re sorry for the hurt it caused.”
Six senators, including Jacob Miller, junior communications major, and Joanna Strecker, sophomore chemistry major, abstained from voting.
Miller said his decision to abstain was based on his constituents, who had given an equal amounts of comments for both sides of the issue.
Strecker said that she was torn by her decision, after hearing the Todd’s answers to the questions from senators.
“I wanted to vote ‘aye’ because she didn’t regret how she hurt people,” Strecker said. “She regretted that she did (hurt people), but not that her actions did (hurt people). I wanted to vote ‘nay’ because we’re still human and we all make mistakes.”
Amy Oelschlaeger, senator and senior elementary education major, was the only senator to vote in opposition.
“I voted ‘nay’ because I feel like there’s still a lot of gray area…because you have someone that’s speaking on behalf of the student body and then you have someone with their own personal voice,” Oelschlaeger said. “That gray area overlaps in many places and where are we to say that she has this hat on at this time and she has her other hat on at this time, so it’s very gray and that’s why I voted ‘nay.’”
Senators also voted unanimously to pass a resolution calling for ESU to review its usage of “illegal alien” in their publications, and replace it when possible.
“The continued use of harmful rhetoric without awareness of its effects on a person’s wellbeing is contradictory to Emporia State University’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan,” the resolution said.
In the resolution, it called for terms such as undocumented citizen and people with unauthorized status to replace “illegal alien,” and disclosure statement be provided in cases where it is federally mandated to use the term.
ASG will not meet again until the spring semester.