Former Student Union Secretary James Feng ‘22, speaks out following Union impeachment
Over the past few weeks, several senior members of the Student Union executed a scheme to remove me from office as Secretary of the Student Union. Under the constitutional guise of impeachment, President Krupa Sourirajan ‘23, Chief of Staff Jasmyne Jean-Remy ‘22 and Executive Sen. Joseph Coles ‘22 had insisted I was completely culpable and thus could not serve as Secretary.
I acknowledge that I was not completely free from blame. I was responsible for letting this incident start. I admit I acted neglectfully and imprudently in the multiple incidents brought up against me. I was responsible for letting too much time pass before I recognized it. I am mindful I caused people distress and frustration. I recognize I had several moments where I needed to perform better as Secretary. For that, I sincerely apologize.
What I take issue with is how the events leading up to my impeachment were handled. I was appalled by how quickly Coles moved to file the Articles of Impeachment against me and how Sourirajan and Jean-Remy pressured me to abandon my position. I find it problematic that they let their personal opinions cloud their judgement when addressing errors that I made.
Following the week of Oct. 3, I, as the Chief of Elections, requested to hold another round of special elections to fill the missing Allocations Board seats. I had made my request out of a need for a full board in time for Marathon around Oct. 15. Sen. Emma Fiesinger ‘23 insisted an incomplete board would ineffectively distribute monetary funds to interested clubs during that club funding event. At the same time, Coles, Sourirajan and Jean-Remy started questioning my performance.
Given their concerns, I wanted to use the A-Board special elections as a way to show my instances of subpar performances—including non-responsiveness and inattention to detail — were only a part of a temporary slump rather than incidents indicative of my competence as Secretary. I reasoned that if I performed better in moderating the A-Board elections, it would alleviate their concerns on my ability to host elections.
Sourirjan, Coles and Jean-Remy strongly dismissed my request nevertheless. Sourirajan cited “logistical concerns’’ and planned to elect the spots in spring 2022. Coles and Jean-Remy insisted I should not prove myself by moderating another election since I was an ineffective Chief of Elections. Their vague and circular reasoning placed in context of Fiesinger’s time-sensitive concerns posed a clear red flag: if I had done well moderating another round of elections, their case about my inefficacy would grow significantly weaker. If I had not made various errors as I did previously, those incidents outlined against me would have much less relevance.
In four solid weeks, from Oct. 3 to Oct. 24, the Student Union did not hold any elections despite the fact that five A-Board seats remain unfilled. Only four members, some with no prior experience, constituted the board to fulfill massive funding requests from numerous clubs in the period of Marathon.*
Sourirajan subsequently emailed all club leaders on Oct. 18 and apologized for “A-Board...not operating at full capacity due to being short staffed.” In the email, she reassured the recipients “the Union is doing everything to make them operable.” Sourirajan then had the audacity to claim “[A-Board] remains operable and Marathon and other club funding processes are not in danger.”
I am sickened by how Sourirajan downplayed a dire situation in the Board, even denying problems existed. I was aware many different clubs complained and expressed their frustrations at the difficulty in obtaining Union funding. I knew those concerns with A-Board were outlined in writing on Oct. 29, yielding criticism for inefficacy and disorganization.
My impeachment occurred on Oct. 22, and with the facts shown, the Judiciary found I failed to perform my duties as Secretary.
But out of context of the hearing, members of the Judiciary expressed to me that the process was “a foregone conclusion” and that “it was completely unfair” to me. The process needed to be lopsided in the eyes of justice and the three Union leaders certainly did not hesitate to make it that way.
Surprisingly, the Union then took it upon themselves to hold elections on Oct. 25, a mere three days after the hearing.* In the twilight of Marathon, the five missing A-Board positions were finally up for election —too little, too late. It does not seem coincidental that a Secretary position was up for election even when the formal Judiciary opinion, which constitutes formal documentation of the case ruling, was not released.* It doesn’t seem coincidental the impeachment process was rushed.
Let me be clear: the President, Executive Senator and Chief of Staff brought about a malicious, purposeful and illicit attack on justice and quite ironically, at a university of social justice.
I recognize I make harsh accusations against Sourirajan, Coles and Jean-Remy.
But in the context of the evidence I presented, I clearly demonstrated the three Union leaders have used their powers partially and for personal gain — for that reason, they simply do not deserve to be in the position they are in.
The Union itself is a shining gem — a pinnacle of change and a champion of justice — and most of its members keep it that way.
For the Union to continue as that gem, we need to encourage those members to keep it up, but we also need to make sure power goes into the hands of the right people.
At this point, we need to make the necessary changes inside the Student Union leadership such that this blatant abuse of power ceases and justice prevails in the end.
*Marathon officially begins Nov.8th. Additionally, this op-ed incorrectly stated the number of members of the Allocations Board. There are six members, not four.
* This forum op-ed incorrectly stated the date of the election on Oct. 25. The correct start date is Nov 4.
* This forum op-ed incorrectly stated the removal procedure in the Student Union. The Union has clarified that the Judiciary opinion does not constitute formal documentation. A person would be immediately notified that they are removed from their Union position by the formal ruling.