USG votes not to impeach President Jared Stern
Members of the Undergraduate Student Government voted Tuesday night to indefinitely table a bill that would have impeached President Jared Stern.
After 90 minutes of discussing the bill and two voting sessions, 22 senators approved the bill while 13 opposed and seven abstained from voting. Last minute changes were made to the proposed legislation, including its material meaning, as senators voted to suspend rules and reconsider tabling the bill for the next meeting.
The bill, sponsored by the Internal Affairs Committee, came as a surprise to some senators because a recent investigation of USG’s executive board is ongoing. That investigation, headed by the Graduate and Professional Student Council, launched after senators brought allegations of misconduct on Stern’s part.
Stern’s position came into question after appropriating $500 to the United Nations Association — which was not a Registered Student Organization at the time of appropriation — and violating the USG constitution in the process of approving a new constitution. At Tuesday’s meeting, Stern defended his actions to the senate before the bill came under consideration.
“With this position, there is always going to be a certain amount of distrust and I understand that,” Stern said. “But if you were to ask me if I regret the decisions I’ve made, I would say, ‘No.'”
Although Stern admitted to making mistakes, he said he has learned from and is working to correct them.
“I will move forward from this, but to sit in this seat, it is very difficult to do that when I am asked to go back and regret the decisions I’ve made,” he said.
Matthew Schmidlin, a senior from Paletine and senator from the College of Engineers, voted to toss out the impeachment. He said even with errors, USG has improved since he joined the organization his freshman year and these improvements can be largely attributed to Stern’s work as president.
“Four years ago, there were maybe 10 senators and now the senate has almost quadrupled in size,” Schmidlin said. “We are all students and we have all failed, but think of the progress we have made.”
In the last four years, the senate has grown from roughly a dozen student representatives to filling nearly every vacant seat. Stern campaigned on the promise to bring change and structure to USG by filling the senate, and some senators commended him for doing so.
Nolan McConnell, Inter-Greek Council senator and chair of the Governing Documents Advisory Committee, said no one would be more fit for president than Stern.
“If you’re sitting in this room right now and you don’t see any progress, I don’t know what you’re doing with your eyes,” McConnell said during the meeting. “I highly doubt any of you could be in his position and come out perfectly.”
McConnell said he and Stern have disagreed on several issues throughout the semester, but Stern has owned up to his shortcomings.
Yahaira Heller, former president of the Latino Cultural Association and Saluki Rainbow Network senator, said although Stern has been working toward fixing them, his mistakes cannot be excused.
“It took a month and a half to get the president to yield to the fact that his errors were causing marginalized students to feel further marginalized,” Heller said.
When the meeting opened to public comment, several students expressed disappointment in USG for voting in favor of this bill.
Nick Shereos, a senior from Buffalo Grove studying political science, prompted USG to suspend the rules and schedule the bill for discussion at the next meeting. The group agreed, but a majority still voted to indefinitely table the bill.
“It is despicable that you tabled this bill,” Shereos said to the executive board and senators. “Stern passed legislation when he is not allowed to do so and if that isn’t gross negligence, I don’t know what is.”
Bethany Peppers, a sophomore from Urbana studying political science and the associate coordinator of the Black Affairs Council, said it was irresponsible of USG to pass the bill because Stern’s actions directly affect many RSOs.
“As a student leader, for anyone to say this does not affect RSOs is just completely wrong,” Peppers said. “I’ve sat in some of these meetings more than some of the senators have and I wouldn’t be sitting here if this did not affect my students and the campus.”