No resolution expected on impeachment: Zimmerman speaks out about the process

Mary Zimmerman ’21, the subject of the impeachment process, said that members of the executive board failed to follow the parliamentary rules for student government and disclosed confidential information.(Photo courtesy of Gina Beviglia ’22)

With the semester wrapping up, the impeachment process of current Student Government President Mary Zimmerman ’21 is expected to conclude without a final resolution. Members of the Student Government executive board attribute the inability to conclude the proceedings to timing issues, the unprecedented nature of the event as well as conflicting opinions from the student body.

According to the current Vice President of Student Government Ross Coleman ’22, not much more can be done in terms of impeachment because clubs–including Student Government–cease activity before finals week.

“The only thing that could happen is if anything gets released–whether it’s the charges or if it’s the statement that’s written by the investigation committee recommending impeachment or not. It would only be a process of technicalities, not so much action that’s taken, just because of timing, as classes end tomorrow,” Coleman said.

Thalia Charles ’22, current secretary of Student Government confirmed that Student Government plans on releasing the charges or notice of impeachment.

Charles, Coleman and Zimmerman all attributed the lack of a definitive conclusion to the impeachment process to timing. 

“The motion to impeach was not made until March; in the future, it would be best to start as early in the semester as possible,” Charles wrote.

Coleman echoed this sentiment, noting that all of the separate steps of impeachment were timely and added up in a way that did not allow everything to be finished by the end of the semester.

“It took some time for some action to be taken in terms of when the motion of impeachment was actually filed and the amount of time it took to create the investigation committee,” Coleman said. “A motion wasn’t filed until March and impeachment had been talked about since the fall; if the people who wanted to file the motion for impeachment filed it [the formal motion] earlier, like in the fall, we could be looking at a whole different scenario right now.”

The fact that Student Government never before conducted an impeachment likewise made the process challenging, as members grappled with the correct steps to take. Much of the confusion was around the parliamentary manual that Student Government follows, Robert’s Rules, and its ambiguous description of the impeachment process.

Coleman added that as the Vice President, he was responsible for spearheading the impeachment, which was completely different from his expectations for the position.

“This is the first time Lafayette’s ever done any sort of impeachment and I can honestly say that in the beginning I had no idea what I was doing,” Coleman said. “So it took us some time to really focus and understand the process.”

Coleman nevertheless emphasized that he felt positively about how the impeachment played out, and gave credit to his fellow members, who he said also did their jobs well.

“I think impeachment was actually conducted in a really good fashion. There were motions being brought. There were votes on it. There was civilized discussion and debate on process and motions and stuff along those lines. And I’m proud to have led that process, because I think it did go well,” Coleman said. 

While Coleman lauded how the Student Government and its members handled the proceedings, Zimmerman expressed dissatisfaction with the way her impeachment played out.

“There were many times throughout the process where Robert’s Rules were not properly followed, such as the confidentiality of Executive Sessions and the releasing of the impeachment allegations to Dear Lafayette College Coalition…The Executive Board decided to ignore the advice given by Vanessa, Lafayette’s General Council, and Robert’s Rules,” Zimmerman wrote. “So overall, I believe that the process was not followed as it should have been, but instead certain members of the Executive Board were trying to further their own personal agendas outside of Student Government.”

Zimmerman also noted that she felt the information given to the student body as a whole was not in accordance with the rules Student Government should have been following.

“I feel as though there were times that information was made public to outside organizations that should not have been made public,” Zimmerman wrote. “This resulted in a lot of undue and unnecessary pressure on the Executive Board to make a decision that would align with the agenda’s of the outside organizations, rather than what was best for Student Government.”

Coleman noted that there has been little, if any, talk of continuing impeachment proceedings next semester after Zimmerman graduates. He said that many of the Student Government members would rather just move on instead of continuing an impeachment of somebody that had already left the College.

Amid the mixed feelings about the impeachment process, Coleman noted that he wished there was a more conclusive end to the whole situation.

“I personally wanted a result at some point just because I wanted the entire student body to receive some sense of clarity from the people who are figuring out whether or not Mary should be impeached,” Coleman said.

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