At the most recent senate hearing on Wednesday, September 26 (of which more comprehensive coverage can be found in the article “Constitutional amendments, senator guidelines, more at second senate hearing” on page 4 of this issue), Illinois Tech Student Government Association (SGA) Finance Board Chair Jorge Morin brought forward a charge of impeachment against SGA Chief Justice Erin Monforti, specifically citing her “lack of experience.” In procedural terms, Morin brought forward a vote for SGA to create an impeachment committee and hold an official impeachment trial of Monforti.
In specific constitutional terms, Morin purported that Monforti violated three different articles of the SGA governing documents, reproduced below:
SGA Constitution, Article 11
“This Constitution and SGA Bylaws may be amended only by the Senate at any regular Senate meeting with a two-thirds vote. All suggested amendments should be sent out to the senators to review at least a week in advance of the senate meeting where they will vote.”
SGA Bylaws, Article 29, Section 2, Subsection A
“The Administrative Justice shall maintain a comprehensive and public record of every official decision made. This record shall be housed in the SGA Office and a copy shall be maintained by the Office of Campus Life.”
SGA Bylaws, Article 31, Section 1
“Students eligible for Chief Justice shall have completed a minimum of thirty credit hours at IIT and shall have held an office or appointed position within SGA for at least two semesters prior to his/her effective term. If either of these qualifications is not met, the appointment of this Justice can still be approved, with a three-fourths vote of the Senate.”
It is likely that the claim of Article 11 of the constitution being violated is in response to an SGA senate hearing held in the beginning of the semester on August 22, where SGA attempted to pass a number of amendments in a meeting that was not publicly announced. More information on this meeting can be found on the Tuesday, August 28 issue of TechNews in an article titled “SGA fails to publicize, record, or document first senate meeting of the year.” The claimed violation of Article 29, Section 2, Subsection A of the SGA Bylaws seems to be rooted in Monforti’s record-keeping in regards to Judicial Board proceedings, which she is considered responsible for in the absence of an Administrative Justice, a position that SGA President Eric Scott has not yet filled as of this article's publishing. The claimed violation of Article 31, Section 1 of the SGA Bylaws is in response to Monforti holding no prior experience as an appointed SGA member before being sworn in as chief justice.
Monforti was then given the floor to offer some words in defense against her impeachment. It is worth noting that she was not made aware of this impeachment charge until the night before the senate hearing. In her prepared statement, Monforti acknowledged her lack of official experience with SGA but affirmed that she quickly set about familiarizing herself with the governing documents of the organization, and gained a “ferocity for the position” as she sought to “embody passion and integrity.” She also relayed that these charges have left her “disappointed and, very frankly, hurt,” but that “no matter the outcome,” she will remain “very proud of the way I’ve conducted myself.”
The ensuing discussion very quickly displayed the confusion among the members of SGA over this impeachment charge, having just been informed of the charges at this meeting. Various members of the organization gave their perceptions of “interpersonal issues” being the ulterior reasons behind the charge, and many agreed that they were willing to look over Monforti’s “lack of experience” in favor of her “passion for the organization” and “refreshing law background.”
The conclusion reached by this discussion was that the entire process was brought forward on far too short notice for SGA to reach any meaningful decisions in a single night. The final movement was made to table the discussion until more information about the specific impeachment charges and their reasoning can be brought forward to SGA’s members and the general Illinois Tech population.
Constitutionally, this impeachment would follow the verbiage in SGA Bylaws Article 29, Section 5, Subsection A, reproduced below:
SGA Bylaws Article 29, Section 5, Subsection A
"Should more than half the justices serving at the hearing be affected by a conflict of interest, or in a case involving the Chief Justice, the case shall be reviewed and decided upon by the Vice President of Student Life and a special committee of four Senators of the Senate, which shall be appointed by the President and approved by two thirds vote of the Senate."
As it stands currently, SGA has tabled the discussion and voting on the creation of this committee. This is a developing story, and TechNews will continue to follow this ongoing impeachment trial in SGA, reporting new information as it becomes available.
Photo by Ethan Castro (He/him)