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GPSC Notebook Dec. 6: Collins dodges impeachment

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Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat

Jim Collins, GPSC's treasurer, speaks at the council's meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6 focusing on Collins' impeachment and the allegations surrounding it. Collins, the longest GPSC member, avoided an impeachment order filed against him after accusations of malfeasance.

The Graduate and Professional Student Council held its last general council meeting of the year Dec. 6, during which it considered the impeachment of Treasurer Jim Collins, the council’s longest-serving member.

The impeachment proceedings were prompted by the submission of an impeachment petition signed by one-third, or 11, of the voting members of the GPSC.

According to Collins, the petition contained over 30 separable allegations. Daniel Kasper, assembly chair, declined a request to provide Collins an extension to gather evidence in his case, subsequently, the general council voted to not provide an extension.

The petition was addressed point by point. Collins was unable to respond to every allegation made against him in the allotted time. Of the allegations discussed, the evidence presented on Collins' behalf refuted every allegation presented as either mischaracterized, untrue, or not grounds for impeachments. 

Collins told the assembled quorum of members it was a travesty to the organization its constituents and himself for not being given time to fully address the allegations made in the frivolous impeachment.

The impeachment was a waste of time and a distraction from serving graduate students, according to Collins. 

Kasper called for a vote to enter executive session after Collins' defense in order to allow for general deliberation. Collins waved his right to executive session pursuant to Arizona meeting laws, thereby prohibiting the council from entering into executive session. 

Concurrently, a vote to enter executive session failed to reach a majority.

Kasper told the general council he did not recommend discussing the impeachment during an open meeting, but discussion proceeded regardless. 

RELATED: GPSC Notebook Nov. 28: Search for new faculty advisor, fund distribution

According to Brandon Smith, representative for the College of Science, the GPSC will not find a member more dedicated to the institution than Collins.

Former GPSC President Zachary Brooks sent an email to all members of GPSC before the meeting began. In the email, Brooks argued that Collins, in his 19-year tenure, is unlikely to have begun committing impeachable offenses this semester.

“Voting to remove GPSC’s strongest advocate means you don't actually care about representing graduate students but only about personal vendettas,” Smith said to assembled members.

Mariia Khorosheva, GPSC secretary, told the council she possessed proof of a personal vendetta on the part of Administrative Vice President Jasmine Sears to remove Collins from the council.

Brooks described encounters in his email where Sears explicitly stated she would attempt to impeach Collins in closed and open settings.

Sears said GPSC has a treasurer unwilling to perform his duties. An impeachment is the most logical way to protect constituents because currently, thousands of dollars have been lost or not tied to funding requests under Collins, Sears said.

If the GPSC does not have a treasurer, at least the council will know what to expect from the position, Sears said.

A vote to dismiss the petition failed to pass. A motion to impeach Collins was called by Katie Strawn, the online student representative. Eight council members voted to impeach Collins, including Kasper and Sears, and ten members voted against impeaching Collins. Six members abstained including GPSC President Jude Udeozor.

The impeachment petition did not reach the required approval of two-thirds of members so Collins retained his position within GPSC.

After the impeachment vote, the council convened a short break.

Sears presented a motion to the general council to pre-approve the distribution letters of acceptance and rejection to applications for research and project grants immediately after receiving applicant scores. The number of accepted applicants will be determined by the previous 85 percent cut-off. The motion passed with 13 in agreement and 9 abstentions.

Collins proposed to present line-item expenditures to the general council on a consent agenda in order to dismiss any mysteries concerning spending.

RELATED: GPSC to vote on impeachment of Executive Board Member Jim Collins

Udeozor expressed his approval with increasing the transparency of the budget and hoped to one-day post spending reports online for constituents to have access. Udeozor moved to table the discussion because he did not foresee a comprehensive vote occurring during the meeting.

Khorosheva presented an amendment to the GPSC constitution to add appointing GPSC representatives to serve on committees to the duties of the president.

Udeozor and Sears proposed the duty be shared by the administrative vice president and the president. The UA administration would handle any disputes in appointments if they occur. The amendment passed in this form with 17 votes for, 7 against, and 3 abstentions.

Kasper updated the general council on his plan to present an amendment to give the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Supreme Court authority over resolving election disputes. Discussion on this topic was tabled after significant alterations to the amendment's wording were foreseen following administrative involvement. 

Proposed term limits were debated for the remainder of the meeting. A motion was narrowly approved to continue to explore the possibility of a term limit amendment. The current amendment would allow vacant GPSC to be filled by appointment from the council even to individuals who have exceeded their five-year term limit.

The meeting adjourned at 7:03 p.m following the approval of a motion to meet only once in January 2017. 


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