ASLMU begins first-ever impeachment proceedings against a senator

Sunday, October 4, 2020

ASLMU begins first-ever impeachment proceedings against a senator

By Raven Yamamoto, Danica Creahan

The Associated Students of LMU (ASLMU) Senate voted to begin impeachment proceedings against Diversity and Inclusion Senator Stephanie Martinez. This marks the beginning of the first-ever impeachment proceeding against an ASLMU Senator in LMU’s history.

At ASLMU’s weekly meeting on Sunday night, fellow Diversity and Inclusion Senator Camille Orozco motioned to bring an impeachment complaint against Sen. Martinez. The motion was seconded by ASLMU Senator of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts (BCLA) Alexis Harris, effectively beginning the arduous, three-week-long senator impeachment process outlined by ASLMU’s Bylaws

Sen. Orozco made her complaint on the grounds that Sen. Martinez had, in her view, violated Article 8, Subsection B, subsection d3 of the ASLMU Bylaws in which it states that an impeachment complaint can be brought if a senator has conducted themselves in a way “that severely damages the integrity or authority of ASLMU or the office held by the individual in question.”

Sen. Martinez’ public statements and actions undermine the mission of inclusivity pertinent to her role as Senator for Diversity and Inclusion,” Orozco said. “I, Sen. Orozco, maintain that the responsibilities related to this position, are not only undermined, but completely contradicted by the impact that Sen. Martinez’ statements and actions have had among the student body.” 

Sen. Orozco’s formal complaint also cited a petition with over 560 signatures calling for Martinez’ removal as Senator for Diversity and Inclusion. This petition was created shortly after Agency reported on anti-immigrant tweets from Sen. Martinez’ past that had resurfaced after her election to ASLMU last Spring. 

“Stephanie Martinez is not suitable to serve as a Senator for Diversity and Inclusion based on the statements she has made,” the petition’s description reads. “These statements do not advocate for the needs and interests of ALL undergraduate students at LMU. To advocate for all students also means to advocate for undocumented students.”

In response to our request for comment, Martinez stated that she feels this is a “poorly disguised way” to impeach her for being a conservative. 

“There's only one ideology in the [ASLMU] Senate,” she said. Martinez feels that she is a representative for conservative students at LMU.

“Impeaching me would basically be silencing those students,” she asserted. Martinez left the meeting shortly after the complaint against her was presented by Orozco. 

ASLMU President Jack Palen was the first witness called by the Senate for the impeachment hearing and explained the need to hold ASLMU Senators accountable to their responsibilities as student representatives. 

“This is not about personal politics,” Palen said. “This is about individual responsibility to others. If an ASLMU officer fails in their obligation of service to their peers, it is the right and duty of the Senate to intervene.”

Next Sunday, Oct. 11, the Senate will hold a hearing for the case during their regular meeting time to determine whether or not the claims against Martinez are valid grounds for impeachment. 

Senators will be able to question any present witnesses before voting on impeachment. The vote to impeach needs a simple majority from the Senate to pass. 

If the Senate votes in favor of impeachment, ASLMU Senators will vote the following Sunday, Oct. 18, on Martinez’s removal. A vote to remove needs three-fourths of the Senate’s approval to pass and brings an end to the impeachment proceedings.

If the vote to impeach passes, Martinez has until Oct. 18 to appeal the case to ASLMU’s Judicial Board. 

Without a passing vote to impeach, the proceedings will not proceed and Martinez will remain in the Senate. If both votes pass, Martinez’ seat will be made vacant.

ASLMU Senators that have been called as witnesses for the impeachment hearing include Alexis Harris, Isaac Hernandez, Leslie Arguelles and Speaker of the Senate Kyle Saavedra.

Members of ASLMU’s Leadership Team and Cabinet were also called as witnesses, among them being ASLMU Vice President Elsie Mares, Director of Free Speech Robyn de Leon, Director of Culture and Social Justice Alaysia Baker-Vaughn, Attorney General Leslie Sepulveda and Chief Programming Officer (CPO) Brion Dennis.

Dennis explained that any undergraduate student can attend ASLMU Senate meetings by registering via the link in ASLMU’s Instagram biography and that the ASLMU Bylaws are also publicly available on ASLMU’s website. 

“ASLMU prides itself on its transparency to the student body,” said Dennis. “All of the impeachment hearings will be completely open to the public.”

After Agency reported on Martinez’s past tweets in May, the article prompted campus-wide discourse about her ability to fulfill the role of a Senator for Diversity and Inclusion.

In our article, Martinez apologized to the student body for the tweets in question and claimed that they did not reflect her current views on immigration and undocumented students. Martinez also explained that her experience volunteering with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)—experience she listed on her election platform— “motivated [her] to use [her] privilege to advocate for immigrant rights.”

Days after our initial article was published, Martinez made a statement to conservative activist group Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) regarding the petition and our coverage.  

“I do not plan to resign,” Martinez told YAF. “To resign would only mean that I am giving up my identity and my ideals or that I don’t believe them enough to fight.” 

Following her interview with YAF, Agency offered Martinez the opportunity to write an op-ed to discuss how her views have changed and what her plans were as an ASLMU Senator per her statements to us. Martinez declined this offer.

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