Clifton Dixon Presidential Impeachment Attempt

By Daniel Croft, Editor-in-Chief

An attempt was made this week to begin an impeachment process against Student Senate President, Clifton Dixon. The matter was brought up in the bi-weekly Student Senate meeting held on Monday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.

The President was accused of violating Article 5.2.21 of the Judiciary System as shown in the fall 2009 student catalog. The article reads: “Intentionally furnishing the college with false information is prohibited.” However, in keeping with Robert’s Rules of Order, no specific accusation was made during the open session.

In order to bring specific changes, the Senate must go into executive session meaning — closed to the public to discuss the reasons for an impeachment attempt. This process was developed to protect the rights of the accused. Once this has been discussed, the Senate can go back to open session and vote to convene the judiciary board.

The impeachment process has several steps. First, the person under investigation must be formally charged. Second, a judiciary committee must be approved and appointed. The committee then inspects the evidence against the accused and makes a recommendation to the Senate. A motion to impeach must then be passed by two thirds of the entire Senate.

President Dixon attempted to go to executive session to discuss the allegations. Both Vice President Heather Orvis and Treasurer Michael Hayner refused to allow an executive session to be called. The President then attempted to cause the Senate to “stand at ease” so that he could consult a parliamentarian. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, the presiding officer may allow the Senate to stand at ease in order to consult with a parliamentarian if he feels the rules of the assembly are being violated. The Senate would not acknowledge the President’s action/ In response to this, President Dixon adjourned the meeting, claiming that the meeting had run beyond the agreed time limit.

There was no mention of an ending time on the meeting agenda. However, each item on the agenda had a duration marked to it. If these durations were taken as literal time limits, then they would lead to a meeting approximately two and a quarter hours long, falling well short of the time the meeting had already consumed. There was some contention as to whether the agenda could be interpreted this way.

Regardless, President Dixon adjourned the meeting and left the room to consult the parliamentarian. When he had gone, Vice President Orvis proposed a motion to overrule the President and continue the meeting. The motion passed fourteen to zero. Discussion over convening the judiciary board continued for several minutes until the President returned with an inconclusive recommendation from the parliamentarian.

Treasurer Hayner then proposed a motion to have a vote by secret ballot to convene the judiciary board.

Several long minutes of discussion ensued until the newly elected freshman senator, Elijah Sharma proposed a motion to kill all discussion and force a vote. He expressed concern over the time and wanted to be sure that the matter came to a vote before too many senators were forced to leave. The motion passed thirteen to one.

Secret ballot slips were then handed out to every senator. The slips were collected and counted by both Louis Coplin and Alfredo Balarin, Director and Assistant Director of Student Life, respectively. Of the 19 Senate members, 14 voted to convene a judiciary committee and two voted against it. The others either abstained or had already left. This was above the ten vote majority that was required to pass the motion. The final tally was met with applause by many members of the Senate.

The judiciary committee will be chaired by Vice President Orvis. She is also responsible for choosing five other senators to serve on the committee who will swear to be unbiased in their judgement. The committee will make a recommendation to the Senate which will then vote on whether to go through with the impeachment.

“Michael and Heather did an excellent job,” said Ann Carrozza, Executive Director pf the FSA, after the meeting was over.. “I think that the President was not following the process that he should have followed. The President was doing injustice and the students spoke up.”

In an interview after the meeting, President Dixon was asked for his reaction to the accusations of providing the college with false information.

“I vehemently deny any accusations and I’m going to aggressively pursue a remedy to be made whole once it’s proven that it’s wrong  because they’ve intentionally done this to harass and to defame and to undermine , and it appears to me as if they have supports of a certain administration,” he said. “I feel confident that I am qualified to be Student Trustee, that I qualified to be the President. I’m qualified to be a board member., that I have absolutelynot ever furnished the college with something that is false … Absolutely not.”

The President also disclosed plans to take the matter beyond school ploitics and have it settled through the legal system.

“I’m meeting with my attorney tomorrow to file for a judicial review and enjoin them from continuing this process,” he stated.

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