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Impeachment in the ASUA Senate: College of Science Senator Louise Lalescu

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Caitlin Claypool | The Daily Wildcat

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona logo painted across the wall at the ASUA office in the Student Union Memorial Center.

On April 12, the Supreme Court for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona voted to impeach Louise Lalescu after senators met and voted to impeach Lalescu from the College of Science on the grounds of automatic impeachment. 

But Lalescu claims that Executive Vice President Alexandra Devereux did a poor job taking meeting notes and maintaining a clear attendance policy.

“You have no idea of who’s excused or unexcused,” Lalescu said. “The bylaws say it’s up to the EVP to make that excused or unexcused and on four of five absences I communicated with [Devereux] that I wouldn’t be attending but then she pulled this whole 24-hour rule.” 

The rule in question is Devereux’s attendance policy, which the bylaws state are at the EVP’s discretion. According to Article 4, section 5A, “attendance at all official weekly meetings that have been posted is mandatory. It is the sole decision of the Chair of the meeting if the absence is excused or unexcused.”

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At the beginning of the semester, Devereux verbalized to the Senate that her policy was that senators had to give a notice 24 hours in advance for it to be excused, and she would not excuse absences without a 24-hour notice. The attendance policy was never written down anywhere senators could look back to though.

“Of course, there's emergencies which would be applied, like a case by case scenario,” Devereux said in an interview with the Daily Wildcat. “Like if your dog dies or something, and you can't emotionally be [there], you know, I'm understanding but you have to let me know.”

After the fifth unexcused absence, automatic impeachment charges take place, according to the bylaws. Lalescu had five unexcused absences, making her eligible for automatic impeachment, but she mentioned never being told how many unexcused absences she had, which Devereux confirmed by saying that she does not warn Senators when they are close to meeting the five unexcused absences mark.

Lalescu was not made aware of her first unexcused absence, she said. That Wednesday, Sept. 8, Lalescu had a dentist appointment to get her braces taken off in Phoenix. 

She had a 20-year-old car that wouldn’t start on the day of her dentist appointment to get her braces off in the morning. She said she decided instead to take a Greyhound bus and messaged Devereux about her change of plans. Lalescu told Devereux that she wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting that evening to which Devereux liked the message. 

“I thought that was enough communication but then I was told it was just her acknowledging that she received the message,” Lalescu said. 

In another instance, Lalescu messaged Devereux that she was sick and would not be able to attend the meeting, which earned her another unexcused absence. 

Senator Jack Healy from the Eller College of Management can also support Lalescu’s claims in regards to both incidents and in the poor recording of excused and unexcused absences.

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“The way [Senator At-Large Jordan-Isaiah Toyos] and [Devereux] handled it was really rude,” Healy said. “We all work and we all have these things, there’s just no leeway for anything.” 

Toyos had a different perspective though. 

“I felt, as Senate president, that I had to make sure that people were keeping up with their duties,” Toyos said. “People were just not coming to their office hours, people weren't participating, people were not showing up to meetings, they would text [Devereux] 20 minutes before that they weren't going to show up, which we have a 24-hour policy that they broke. I just thought it wasn't fair.”

On February 23, Toyos told Senators that he would be conducting a review of whether they were keeping up with their duties: going to office hours and other ASUA and subcommittee meetings. 

Three days later, Abby Hauser from the College of Humanities formally resigned with no explanation, though Toyos speculated that it was because of the review. 

Toyos, Devereux, President Noah Vega and Chairperson for Accountability Senator Paige Campbell from the College of Nursing met with Lalescu on Feb. 28 to discuss her unexcused absences and disciplinary action. 

On March 2, the Senate went into executive session and on March 16, Senators voted to impeach Lalescu. 

Attendance 

Healy said that the attendance policy was communicated to them in certain instances, but that he still almost faced the same fate as Lalescu because of miscommunication. 

In the past, EVPs released whether an absence was excused or unexcused in the meeting minutes that are public record, but Devereux only released who was absent and not whether it was excused or not. 

Daily Wildcat news reporter Kristijan Barnjak asked Devereux in an email if she would release which absences were excused and unexcused, to which she replied that it is something they internally keep track of. 

However, during the March 16 meeting, Devereux released the Senate Absences for 2021-22 with no further explanations as to why she had initially refused to release the information. 

Nobody could explain how Devereux classifies an unexcused absence and there are no set guidelines for what constitutes an unexcused absence. 

“I don't know, it's just a feeling,” Devereux said. “It's at my discretion, according to the bylaws.”

But the senate body addressed this issue in the newly drafted bylaws, which will clarify language on what is considered excused and unexcused. 

Although this is not the first impeachment in Senate history, it is the first impeachment in the last five years that Sylvester Gaskin, the associate dean of students and ASUA advisor, has been involved in. 

It took 15 days for Lalescu to receive the meeting minutes of the executive session where senators discussed the case, in which neither she nor the public were allowed to sit in on. 

“We're following the procedure of the bylaws and we're just going based on what is written,” Devereux said. “We're following all the rules and going through them because that's what is written.” 


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