Despite bringing articles of impeachment against Secretary for Communications and Media Relations Michael Zele, Associated Student Government (ASG) voted against censuring Zele during senate session on April 16.
To censure a member of ASG means that there has been “formal disapproval of an action by Senate,” according to the ASG bylaws. The censured member is not relieved of their duties or removed from ASG.
ASG’s Oversight Committee recommended senate censure Zele on the grounds that he failed to fulfill his duties, chiefly his responsibilities to keep the ASG website updated and to use ASG social media to keep constituents informed of new legislation and ASG-sponsored events.
On April 1, Chief of Staff Madeline Zinkl filed a complaint regarding Zele’s performance with the Oversight Committee. Zinkl said she had been concerned about Zele’s work since the fall semester, when the ASG website displayed graduated students in positions they had vacated the previous year. Student Body President Meaghan Murtagh received complaints that ASG events were not publicized in a timely manner.
Many of the complaints focused on an incident in which a flyer informing students of the Outstanding Professor Awards was not distributed to the student body until April 1, one day before nominations were due.
The committee decided there was enough evidence to investigate on April 9, and held a hearing that included testimony from Zele that same day.
Speaker Pro Tempore Benjamin Mitsch, who leads the Oversight Committee, presented the evidence against Zele at the beginning of the April 16 senate session with the recommendation that senate vote to censure the secretary. Zele testified after Mitsch presented the committee’s findings.
Zele said his ability to keep the website updated was dependent upon whether information such as legislation and office hours times were uploaded to ASG’s Google Drive, a task that falls to the Speaker of Senate. Zele said that Speaker Cole Hankins had failed to upload the information.
“I asked him multiple times in person and once in writing on February 26 to provide me with records to reflect the current state of senate. He provided me the senate roster but did not include anything else,” Zele said.
Hankins responded that he was confident in the job senate leadership has done.
Zele testified that he had also asked Mitsch, as Speaker Pro Tempore, to provide him with the information needed to update the website. Zele displayed screenshots of his emails and the ASG Google Drive as evidence.
“I also requested updated minutes from the Speaker Pro Tempore on multiple occasions,” Zele said. “I asked them to be uploaded to the Google Drive on April 4 or emailed to me directly on March 3. As of Sunday, April 14, they are still not uploaded into the Google Drive.”
Though Zele asked Hankins, Mitsch and Parliamentarian Max Mellott to witness for him, all three declined.
“My job as Speaker of Senate is to be presiding officer of senate,” Hankins said. “I feel that takes precedence over being a witness.”
Zele also defended himself when it came to the Outstanding Professor Awards flyer, saying that he had needed to change the graphics so that the flyer would better fit with ASG’s branding, and felt it would be better to distribute the new flyers April 1, as reminder emails had already been sent March 17 and March 31.
After deliberation, senate voted against censuring Zele.