ASCSU impeaches senator in closed-door meeting

Jonathan Matheny

ASCSU closes door after kicking out collegian (not actual cutline)
ASCSU closes its doors to media and public during executive session impeaching Sen. Kwon Yearby. (Photo Credit: Eliott Foust)

Wednesday night the Associated Students of Colorado State University impeached Sen. Kwon Yearby during a meeting closed to the public, media and, for most of the proceedings, Yearby himself.

In order to impeach a senator, a two-thirds vote is needed. Senate voted 18 to five to impeach, on the grounds that Yearby had violated Amendment 3 of the ASCSU Bill of Rights.

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Amendment 3 of the ASCSU Bill of Rights states: “Every Colorado State University student has the right to be recognized as a community, state and national and an international citizen; the right to be treated with respect and professionalism by all administrators, faculty, staff and fellow students; the right to freedom from discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, age, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veterans status, political beliefs, handicap, creed, genetic information, or sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”

“I’m very disappointed in this organization,” Yearby said.  “This whole process has been unethical. Seven people can say whatever they want and that’s put against one person’s word.”

When Senate moved to an executive session, members of the Collegian staff refused to leave Senate chambers because they believed ASCSU to be in violation of the Colorado Sunshine Law.

According to the Colorado Sunshine Law, “All meetings of a governmental body must be open and it applies to all boards, committees, commissions, authorities and other advisory, policy-making, rule-making or other formally constituted bodies, as well as any public or private entities that have been delegated governmental decision-making functions.”

ASCSU Vice President Lance LiPuma stated that the Sunshine Law does not apply to ASCSU. However, according to Yearby, ASCSU had recently began approving meeting minutes to comply with Colorado Sunshine Law in an attempt to be more transparent.

“I operated the session to the best of my knowledge,” LiPuma said.

Collegian reporters and staff quoted the law in an attempt to remain in Senate chambers during the proceedings. A 15-minute recess was called to discuss the legality of calling an executive session for the impeachment.

After the recess, Senate reconvened, only to call a second recess of 30 minutes because the press refused to leave.  Collegian employees again cited the Sunshine Law as well as the ASCSU constitution which states that “All meetings of Senate, Cabinet, Supreme Court and all ASCSU committees shall be open to the public. Exceptions shall be made for confidential discussions involving personnel or ongoing legal matters.” 

“They pull that stuff out of their a** every single week,” Yearby said. “Oh, this rule says this, this rule says that.”

According to Jeffrey Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, the Colorado Sunshine Law makes it illegal to hold executive council on the impeachment of a Senator of any governing body.

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“This has become a d*ck-measuring battle between ASCSU and the Collegian,” Yearby said. “This is a huge waste of time.” 

Collegian reporters left after the second recess before police intervention was necessary. ASCSU senate members clapped as the media left the room.

Yearby remained and recorded the first part of the deliberation. After approximately 30 minutes, Yearby was forced to leave and the recording device he used was removed.

“It’s so bogus,” Yearby said. “It’s so bogus that my accusers can be in the room and I can’t. This is like, no transparency, no common sense.”

After sitting outside of Senate chambers for some time, Sen. Yearby interrupted the proceedings to argue against his accusers being allowed in the room while he was forced to remain outside.

After Yearby’s interruption, the ASCSU clerk locked the Senate chamber doors in a final attempt to keep the public out. 

As the Senate moved closer to a vote, Yearby became frustrated that certain senators who presented evidence against him, such as Sen. Phoenix Dugger, were allowed to vote while he was still locked outside.

“I still am a senator, so I should be able to vote,” Yearby said. “He (Dugger) shouldn’t be in there.  He should abstain.  He’s personally involved, and he submitted evidence.”

After the vote was announced, Sen. Jason Sydoriak voiced his disagreement with the decision.

“It’s a pretty shoddy process,” Sydoriak said.

Collegian ASCSU Beat Reporter Jonathan Matheny can be reached online at news@collegian.com or on twitter @jonathanmathen2.