A vote to launch an undergraduate-wide recall election of Undergraduate Association President Shruti Sharma ’15 narrowly failed to pass in the regularly scheduled UA Council meeting on Wednesday, which at points bordered on disorder.
In a call for impeachment emailed out to the UA Council Sunday, four council members accused Sharma of multiple constitutional violations, including improperly authorizing UA funds to pay for a visit by rapper Lil B and using UA funds for personal expenses.
Sharma dismissed the second charge as “untrue” and “not grounded at all.” In an email to The Tech, she wrote that “the personal expenses were from the Bush fund which is a discretionary fund allocated to the President.”
A vote for impeachment could not be held at the meeting because the UA Judicial Board has thus far been unable to decide whether the charges against her warranted impeachment.
In place of impeaching her, council members moved Wednesday to hold a recall vote. Had the motion passed, undergraduates would have voted on whether Sharma could remain UA president. Voted on by secret ballot, the motion failed to garner the 16 yes votes needed to pass — 14 voted in favor, three against, and one abstained. The recall was apparently an attempt to at least temporarily remove Sharma from office until the recall vote despite the council’s inability to vote on impeachment.
UA Judicial Board Chair John W. Halloran ’15 said that the Judicial Board, which currently has only two members, has been unable to come to an agreement on whether the allegations against Sharma would merit impeachment.
He said that the other member Moriel W. Levy ’17 was “appointed by Shruti and has a close personal relationship with Shruti.” He said that he doesn’t believe that the potential conflict of interest would influence her decisions, but “only that it may be a factor in the speed in which we may deliberate.”
Sharma said she believes the motion for a recall election stemmed from “some miscommunication about the Lil B event,” and said that she had been hoping to address some of the concerns at Wednesday’s meeting.
“We did address JudBoard’s recommendations at the meeting, and I’m reaching out and making sure that the situation is clarified.”
The recall motion came after Halloran said that the board was not yet prepared to rule on whether all the violations were serious enough to warrant impeachment.
Though most language in the UA constitution lists a three-quarters majority — 14 of the 18 members present Wednesday — as the highest threshold for passing any measure, the 16-person requirement for the recall is a holdover in the language from when the UA council was larger, according to UA council member Obasi Onuoha ’17.
A motion to amend the constitution to change the 16-person requirement to a three-fourths majority was put forth and will be up for a vote at the next regularly scheduled UA meeting in two weeks.
Halloran told the council at the beginning of the meeting that the two-person board, whose constitutionally-mandated third member had previously resigned, could not reach an agreement on whether all the impeachment charges were constitutional violations. It was also unclear whether an incomplete two-person board would have the standing to issue rulings.
Halloran recommended the appointment of a third member, but said the normal process of appointment by the UA president would cause a conflict of interest given that the new appointee would likely be the tie-breaking vote on whether the impeachment could proceed to a council vote.
The council improvised and debated several alternative methods of appointing the third member. There was an agreement to send out applications to all undergraduates for the position and then hold an interview process for interested applicants. The interviews would be open to all UA Council members.