GUSA Impeaches but Fails to Remove Senator

August 29, 2019

The GUSA Senate failed to remove Sen. Peter Lee Hamilton (COL ’20) at their Aug. 26 meeting. The vote was ten in favor of removal to six against—one vote away from the 11 needed for a two-thirds removal vote. Hamilton had been impeached by a simple majority in the Senate’s Aug. 12 meeting. 

The articles of impeachment were introduced by Sen. Leo Teixeira (COL ’21), transition Chair of the Ethics and Oversight Committee. Teixeira introduced the case for Hamilton’s removal, saying Hamilton had incurred four unexcused absences over the summer and has not been responsive when reached out to. 

“Very clearly, our constitution and bylaws dictate that three unexcused absences is grounds for removal,” Teixeira  said. “We made a collective decision that the transition term comprises an entire quarter of the term we are sworn into, so even though we are not on campus it is absolutely crucial that we utilize that time.”

Hamilton, who was elected from abroad last semester, and was abroad for much of the summer, said in his opening statement that he was not aware how much work would be involved during the transition. He said the time difference while living abroad and his class schedule made it difficult for him to attend meetings, but that he recognized he had gone over the absence limit. 

“If you’re going by what the rules are written down, this should be an easy vote, just remove me,” Hamilton said. 

Hamilton did express regret that he had failed to uphold his obligations and took responsibility for the situation. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we have to talk about this. I’m sorry if this has caused any of you stress or frustration, and at the end of the day it’s my fault, and I’m sorry,” Hamilton said. 

The rest of the Senate then had the chance to question Hamilton and Teixeira  about their positions. This period brought up the question of what measures other than removal could be taken to sanction Hamilton. Though censure and a letter of apology were discussed, neither were ultimately adopted. 

As part of his defense, Hamilton cited a project he had started with club leaders called the “Faces of Georgetown.” However, the two senators with whom he said he was collaborating with, Olivia Kleier (SFS ’22) and Daniella Sanchez (COL ’22), said Hamilton had joined the team after they had come up with the concept, and that they had never even heard of the title of the project. Hamilton responded by saying that he ended his project to work on the similar one with Kleier and Sanchez. 

Midway through the debate, the meeting was interrupted by a New Student Orientation group seeking a classroom for their Marino workshop. The meeting resumed in one senator’s Village B apartment. 

Sen. Sam Dubke (SFS ’21) said he felt the impeachment procedure could have been improved, and that not enough notice of the process was given in the schedule. Dubke did not attend the Aug. 12 meeting where Hamilton was impeached, but said he would have been in attendance if the impeachment had been on the agenda. 

At the meeting, senators also considered the importance of this vote on examining future attendance records. Sanchez said she felt an obligation to follow what was currently in the bylaws, but suggested they be changed to be less punitive in the future, though Teixeira highlighted the value of taking such measures. 

“It is important in issues such as this that we let the facts be presented, and we vote according to the facts,” Teixeira  said. “In voting for removal we are voting to allow the election of a senator who will treat this body with the respect it deserves all the time.” 

Hamilton will remain in the Senate for the remainder of his term, barring any further action. 

Annemarie Cuccia
Annemarie is an avid Voice reader and former editor-in-chief. She hopes she left the magazine better than she found it.

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