CSU’s student body president removed from office after impeachment vote

Haley Candelario

 

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After 12 weeks of impeachment petitions and proceedings, Colorado State University’s student government decided to impeach Student Body President Josh Silva at Wednesday night’s senate meeting.

Josh Silva presents to the ASCSU senate body during a special senate session. Silva was removed from office with a vote of 22-4-0. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

Silva was removed from office with a secret ballot vote of 22-4-0. A two-thirds vote is required to remove an official from office, according to the Associated Students of CSU’s impeachment procedures, and 26 members were present.

“I think it was outrageous and disgraceful and well-orchestrated,” Silva said in an interview with the Collegian after the vote. “I ran on doing positive things for the students, and just because a bunch of people say something doesn’t make it true.”

The decision on the impeachment of Silva lasted early into Thursday morning as members of the ASCSU senate body reviewed evidence for the impeachment of Silva that was provided by the impeachment committee during a special session.

Silva said he wanted to expand digital accessibility for the Wall Street Journal to help the students, which led to him negotiating a contract, but he said the contract was a way for people who disagreed with him to start the impeachment process.

“(It) was really a catalyst for them to create a whole narrative of me being corrupt,” Silva said in an interview with the Collegian. “I didn’t feel comfortable speaking about other peoples’ positions, but I can say now that I know from the first day, the majority of the student body thought this was egregious, political and petty and stupid, as did faculty members, advisers, staff members, administrators, the CSU administration and Board of Governors.”

Additional allegations against Silva included that he harassed ASCSU members and threatened to fire a member of his cabinet.

Director of Marketing Strategy Kyrie Merline said she was the individual threatened to be fired by Silva. Other members of ASCSU said Merline did not fulfill her responsibilities as director of marketing strategy.

Merline said she remained silent throughout the procedures this semester, but said the expectations for her position were different than Silva’s expectations.

“I’ve worked on my mistakes and I’ve worked to help ASCSU as a whole,” Merline said. “I find, though, that the expectation for my position is not the same expectation for my president. I find that my coworkers felt the need to resign due to intimidation, harassment and overall being uncomfortable in their workspace.”

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Merline said she considered resigning but did not believe it would yield change.

“I question if I should resign, but even if I resigned nothing would change,” Merline said. “My resignation would change nothing except the opportunity to threaten and harass possibly another individual.”

Silva said he is not sure how he will act following the decision.

“I haven’t 100 percent decided how I’m going to react,” Silva said. “ I could choose to appeal… but I don’t know. I have a lot of thinking to do.”

Vice President Michael Wells confirmed that he would accept the position as president if a motion is made to do so. Silva said he will continue to serve the students in any way he can.

Over 100 pages of evidence were provided to the senate body during the special senate session.

A motion to allow senators 30 minutes to review the evidence on their own passed, but Sen. Cerridwyn Nordstrom raised a concern regarding accessibility for those who would need more time to review the evidence if they were visually impaired, and motioned to end the 30 minutes in order for the impeachment committee to present the evidence out loud verbatim.

Student Body President Josh Silva hugs Vice President Michael Wells after the results of ASCSU’s senate vote regarding his impeachment are revealed. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)

At the beginning of the evening, Chair of the special session Josh Williams allowed members of the gallery to speak. Current and former members of ASCSU spoke on their experiences with Silva.

Kwon Atlas, a former ASCSU senator and presidential candidate, was impeached in 2014.

“I’m here tonight because the process was not great for me,” Atlas said. “The night I was impeached, there was no recording… The media was completely kicked out of this body. I was not able to give a statement to respond to these accusations at all.”

Atlas asked the senate body to go into the vote without any judgements.

Associate Sen. Tyler Siri said senators should go into the hearings with an open mind and should not already have a decision about the impeachment. Siri said he signed the document because he saw similar patterns with Silva’s administration to Jason Sydoriak’s administration.

“When I came back here for this semester, I saw the same damn stuff that I saw two years ago (in the Sydoriak Administration),” Siri said. “That administration was toxic … It was a toxic environment that made it impossible to really achieve our full potential both as the executive and the entire body. I saw those same signs when I came back again this year.”

Siri said some of the similarties he saw between the Sydoriak and Silva administrations were closed-door meetings, yelling and people being made to feel worthless.

“I signed the petition because there was no accountability two years ago,” Siri said. “By the time the (Office of Equal Opportuniy) investigation was done then, Jason (Sydoriak) was already gone … and we had to deal with the problems the next year. … If something needs to be done, then do it. If nothing should be done, then don’t do it, but there needs to be accountability in this body that did not exist in the past.”

Parlimentarian Zachary Vishampayan said regardless of the result, it would not change anything.

“Regardless of how you vote tonight, this won’t solve anything,” Vishampayan said. “Don’t vote in any particular direction just because you want this to go away. It will not solve anything if you vote one way or another. Removing Josh will not solve anything.”

Collegian News Director Haley Candelario can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @H_Candelario98.

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