Board aims to oust student president in ‘sneaky’ move, Amrhein says

Minneapolis, MN- 03/28/2017 Photo credit: J.D. Duggan

Months after a letter detailing stipulations to remain in the presidential position was given to Joe Amrhein, student senate president, the cabinet of the Student Senate Executive board formally went through with an impeachment vote against him. This letter was written after the board requested Amrhein to resign from his position in December, which he refused to comply with.

“It was kind of a surprise to me, it was sprung on me a half hour before the meeting which I thought was kind of sneaky. It was a sneaky format.” Amrhein said, referring to impeachment vote that took place during the Wednesday, March 15 general assembly. “The way it was explained to me by someone else is that some of the cabinet members don’t like me. The communication should change.”

Many concerns were brought to the attention of Amrhein in the weeks and months leading up to this event. These examples of problematic behavior were detailed in the letter of stipulations written to Amrhein. These included issues of dismissive behavior (including “not letting Roosevelt speak during general assembly”, “Picking and choosing bylaws [such as] trying to remove Jacque [Roosevelt] for attendance but not enforcing club removal for clubs missing GAs”), as well as issues surrounded around a lack of efficiency (“Active attempts to filibuster and motion to table the bylaws then leaving room after rule passed,” “Over-prioritization on “casual and inviting” to the detriment of productivity.”)

When asked why he thinks there was an attempted impeachment, Amrhein said “I haven’t got any clear- an answer that is adequate. I think they thought I wasn’t listening to them, but I have been listening. But what happens is, I have to be thinking about the students.”

“It’s not like he’s doing anything malicious,” said Charles Karter, director of health & sustainability, “it’s the chaos that’s been construed. We had a board meeting, then the next day I’m getting a phone call about how the thing that five of us had voted and agreed on- and then the thing that Joe was working on- he just tried to go forward with anyways, even though we all voted against changing a by-law. It’s this dismissive attitude we get from him.”

Amrhein stated that the board believed he had an agenda to get this by-law (allowing non-senate members to run for the senate executive board) to be removed and that was why they wanted him taken from his position. “Most- if not the entire cabinet- was against [removing the by-law], but Charles [Karter] has since changed his position,” said Amrhein.

In regards to his feelings against the use of Robert’s Rules due to creating an exclusive and overly formal atmosphere, Amrhein said “I have one of the people on the executive board that sits next to me and kind of makes these comments. So that can be antagonistic.” The board has said that this is indicative of Amrhein’s inefficiency as senate president.

Had the vote gone through, Jacque Roosevelt (director of policy & legislative affairs) would have taken up the position of interim student senate president, as Dallas Rising, the current vice president, didn’t feel comfortable being pushed into the position. “I think that Jacque is probably one of the main persons behind that action, but she is using Michael as a person to make it happen,” said Amrhein.

If this had been the case, two of the seven student senate positions would have been appointed by current student senate members rather than voted in, due to Mauricio Mirafuentes having left his position as vice president for a job.

Nevertheless, the vote required two-thirds of the assembly to vote in favor, and failed with 35% voting ‘yea’ and 35% voting ‘nay’.

The cited student senate by-law, Article 4 section 4 subsection 4, refers to the temporary removal process of people on the executive board.

This by-law had been voted in by the general assembly without the previous knowledge of the cabinet’s efforts to get Amrhein to resign. “We did draft and propose the temporary removal process because we asked Joe to resign and he said he didn’t want to, so we didn’t have any other way to make the issue known,” Bethke said. “Without a removal process at all, there’s no check and balance for power. So while we did consciously propose the policy to the student body before trying to have Joe removed, it was something we were talking about before the letter was written.”

The assembly was rife with points of order, most being carried out by Roosevelt and one by the Student Senate adviser Shannon Williams.

One of the stipulations required mediation between Amrhein and Roosevelt due to tensions that seem to have been enduring since the executive board was voted into their positions. The letter repeatedly mentions cases where Amrhein singled out Roosevelt, including him allegedly lying to MSCSA saying that Roosevelt, who had not run in the election, lost the vote for president. Amrhein claimed during the assembly that this incident never happened and that Bethke (who wrote the letter) got his information second-hand from Roosevelt, but this lies in stiff opposition of the repeated insistences of cabinet members who allege that it did.

“We had an agreement over the last semester that I was gonna have one-on-ones with my cabinet members and one of the stipulations was to have a one-on-one arbitration with Jacque, but she has refused to respond,” Amrhein said during the general assembly meeting before a point of order was called for Amrhein not to speak on the behalf of Roosevelt.

“It was like hate at first sight with them. Jacque’s abrasive and Joe’s dismissive” said Charles Karter, student senate director of health and sustainability. Amrhein admitted, “Me and Jacque started off on the wrong foot.”

“From my opinion, he’s kind of trying to be more of a dictator than a leader,” said Bethke. Joe’s dismissive attitude and misspeaking has been viewed as a disregard for the rest of his cabinet.

Ben Uko from Student Tech Services spoke up during the discussion preceding the impeachment vote saying “There’s too much politics. Too much garbage going on here. I’ve just gotten tired of it. It’s just been going on for too long. You guys are cutting peoples’ throats and opening their mouths for a bunch of people that know nothing about any affairs going on in this senate or MCTC. I’m not an expert, but I’ve seen what’s gone on and it needs to stop. Right now.

When asked about this, Karter said “Do you think it makes sense to try to always air out the internal problems of the senate? You know, constantly have a public accountability in the sense of like grievances we’re trying to work out between us? But it makes sense though in terms that like making a maneuver like this we should’ve had more communication with the general assembly, but I don’t know where we would put that in.”

“I think we have a lot of wonderful people [in the cabinet]” said Amrhein. The cabinet members who were available to speak are hopeful for the remaining days of this group being together as the executive board, though only Joe Amrhein, Dallas Rising, Charles Karter and Aster Foley attended the March 22 general assembly, which was the assembly that followed the attempted impeachment. An election is upcoming, with three unopposed candidates being up for election. Jacque Roosevelt has been out all week with an injury and was not available for comment.

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