Petition to Impeach Student Senate President Elaine Wilson
To: Knox College Student Senate Note: Your name will NOT be made public unless the number of signatures required for impeachment (approximately 300) has been reached. If this number is reached, then your name, along with all 300+ other individuals, will be made public and you may be asked for verification of your signature. Petition to Impeach Student Senate President Elaine Wilson We the undersigned students of Knox College, motion to impeach the Student Senate President Elaine Wilson as an officer of the Senate on grounds of violating "students' rights of freedom of speech" and "freedom of peaceful assembly and association," a right guaranteed to all students in the Knox College Student Handbook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Complaint 1: Student A approached the campus Diversity Committee in order to discuss what she felt were insensitive comments made by a few students during a general Student Senate meeting. Student A stated clearly in her email to the committee that she merely wanted to talk about understanding prejudicial attitudes of several students on campus, and stated that she did not want the committee to intervene politically in the business of Senate. According to the Knox College Student Handbook, the charge of the campus Diversity Committee is: "...to help maintain a community unified by common institutional values and enriched by diversity based on such factors as race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and disability. The committee or any subcommittee that it creates may choose to focus on such issues as support services, residential life, and recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff." However, upon learning that Student A wanted to begin a discussion of these issues on the diversity committee, Senate President Elaine Wilson sent a intimidating and disparaging political email to a private closed college distribution list, the full Senate. In this private political email, President Wilson belittled the actions of the student who wanted to discuss these issues with the diversity committee and attempted to silence Student A. Wilson proceeded to denigrate her by writing to the full Senate list that "It is cowardly to hide behind these ideologies..." Wilson further made personal allegations in this email to the full Senate that Student A and other concerned students, "Contacted the Faculty Diversity Committee, TKS, and other students in an effort to discredit senate and advance their own personal goals by making these allegations." This was clearly done in an attempt to discredit Student A by deceiving the entire student senate into believing it was under attack. Complaint 2: A second student, Student B, contacted President Wilson over email asking to meet with her. Student B stated to Wilson that she felt upset by some of the comments made during the Senate meeting with regards to diversity, and was concerned with the general level of hostility shown by certain Senators during this meeting. President Wilson wrote back to Student B and referred to this student's concern as "exaggerated" and a "fictional conspiracy against [her]" in spite of the fact that 3 days earlier Wilson had stated that "I have been a part of student senate for four years and never have I seen [this] level of hostility." Furthermore, Wilson got hold of an unpublished reflection piece by Student B and distributed it to the Senate Exec board over email, writing how "irritated" she was by Student B's piece. This was again done in an attempt to malign a student to the Senate, and belittle her concerns instead of addressing them. Rationale for Impeachment and Specific Offenses Committed: 1) Student Senate President Elaine Wilson violated the duties as the President of the Student Senate. The Student Senate Constitution explicitly states that the President "Shall be the chief spokesperson for student rights and student empowerment on campus." 2) President Wilson attempted to use her political power to intimidate and silence not one, but two students on separate occasions. These were blatant attempts to intimidate Student A and Student B in order to restrict their rights to peaceful association and freedom of speech. Attempting to silence student's concerns about diversity on campus is inappropriate for a leader whose job it is to protect the rights of all students on the Knox Campus, regardless of how President Wilson personally feels about students' concerns. Furthermore, for Wilson to use closed College email lists to disparage students and attempt to advance her own personal beliefs is blatantly inappropriate for a leader whose job it is to "be the chief spokesperson for student rights and student empowerment on campus." Conclusion: Due to these serious offenses and abuses of power, we, the undersigned students of Knox College, believe President Elaine Wilson has failed in her duties as spokesperson for student rights and student empowerment on campus, and move to impeach her from her office as Student Senate President. Note that an impeachment does not mean an automatic removal from office. Following an impeachment, according to the Senate Constitution, "there shall immediately be an investigation of the charges by a special committee appointed by the non-impeached members of the Executive Board. The committee will report its findings to the full Senate no later than one week after the Senator or Officer has been impeached."