By Eric Stewart
On Apr. 23, 2001 in the Faculty and Staff Conference Room on second floor in the Campus Center, the first senator in 14 years here at Hudson Valley was impeached.
After what seemed to be an eternity in the smoldering heat, freshman senator Dwayne Chandler was impeached. Senator Chandler faced a total of five charges ranging from refusal to carry of his duties, to conduct unbecoming a senator. The Judicial Committee chaired to be Senior Senator, William DuPont, presented their case to the senate after weeks of preparation.
Senator Chandler accompanied by his adviser, Larry Kaufman faced an endless torrent of questioning from the senate. Mr. Kauffman is a candidate for Albany City Council President and was the Student Senate President at the University of Albany before being impeached due to public nudity at a football game. He has known Chandler for many years and characterized him as “honest, polite and civil. An all around good kid,” Kauffman said. “I am outraged and blatantly pissed off by the way they [the senate] are railroading Dwayne … I don’t like seeing good people being screwed for no account.”
The senate disagreed with Mr. Kauffman and Senator Chandler was ultimately voted out. Senator Chandler and fellow students have been gathering signatures so he may run for a senate position during the upcoming year. However, on Apr. 4, 2001 the senate voted on a proposition that made it impossible for Mr. Chandler to ever be on the Senate. Requirement G on the Election rules for senatorial candidates states individuals previously removed from Hudson Valley Community College Student Senate from any position or office through the impeachment process are ineligible to run for elections as well as ineligible to be appointed to the senate.
Several students believe that this was simply a case of racial prejudice. Vice President, Kacey Sheehy said, “This [the impeachment] has absolutely nothing to do with race. Many people on the senate are of different backgrounds. It would be ridiculous to think we [the senate] would just pick one minority and impeach them.”
She continued, “We did not simply pass Requirement G to hurt Dwayne. During the course of these proceedings, it was brought to our attention that any senator impeached now or in the future can run again for re-election. We did not think this was inappropriate.”
Chandler’s struggle is far from over. He and his counsel plan to appeal the senate’s decision. Mr. Kauffman said, “I plan to do everything I can within the law for Dwayne. This includes protesting, sending out press releases, go on public speaking tours, set up telephone banks, countywide petition drives and have one thousand students of colorto register to vote. I will shake the political structure of Rensselaer County to its foundation until I see justice done.”
Senate Advisor Janel Hmael said, “This was a horrendous situation for everyone involved. I really feel unfortunate but the most important factor is that the proceedings were handled properly and fair. I believe it was as fair as it could possibly be.”
Newly appointed Senator and Senate President-Candidate, Loren Felsman said, “I think this was unfortunate but I believe the senate executive officers used their discretion and did what was necessary. As a new senate member, I did my best to look at the situation without bias and make a decision on the facts.”
Felsman also offered this advice for future senators, “There are a lot of paths you can take to the senate to resolve your problems. Make sure you try every avenue and use the institutionalized means to solve your problems.”