Two Student Assembly (SA) representatives of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College will present an article of impeachment against Christian Guma, UGBC President and CSOM ’21, for violating the UGBC Constitution by posting a statement on the UGBC Instagram account without approval from the Community Relations Committee.
“The article of impeachment simply has no merit, and I am disappointed some Student Assembly representatives are trying to go down this route,” Guma said in a statement to The Heights.
Guma’s Wednesday Instagram statement, which he made in response to the vandalism on the women’s Multicultural Learning Experience floor in Xavier Hall, was not attributed specifically to Guma and was deleted shortly after it was posted.
The article of impeachment asserts that Guma violated Article III, Section 3.H.I of the UGBC Constitution, which gives the Community Relations Committee jurisdiction over formal statements written on behalf of UGBC and the SA.
Co-sponsors of the article Leonardo Escobar and Mitzy Monterroso-Bautista, both SA representatives and MCAS ’22, will introduce it to the SA at a meeting Tuesday night.
Monterroso-Bautista said in a statement to The Heights that she and Escobar recognized the negative impact Guma’s Instagram statement had on the student body.
“The statement was not reflective of UGBC as a whole, and we were all receiving backlash as an organization for the actions of one person who does not understand the challenges that BIPOC students face every day…, ” she said.
In a statement to The Heights, Escobar said he is moving to impeach Guma because of his “very crass” violation of the UGBC Constitution.
“The student assembly representatives take their work very seriously, so to have their president make such a poorly worded statement without first consulting the community relations committee is unconstitutional,” Escobar wrote. “My colleagues, and more importantly, the greater student body deserve better than the actions Guma took.”
Guma told The Heights that UGBC should be spending its time working together to actually benefit the student body.
“Aside from the fact that there remains no merit to the articles, how does this impeachment help our students in any way?,” he wrote. “How does this make Boston College better?”
Monterroso-Bautista said she believes that the impeachment would benefit the student body by showing that UGBC holds its student leadership accountable.
“To not hold him accountable is to allow people to violate the UGBC Constitution without facing any repercussions, which would mean that this situation could happen again and hurt the students we represent again,” she said.
Also on Wednesday, the UGBC Instagram account uploaded a second statement, though this time it was attributed to Guma. SA representatives also criticized the second statement for not explicitly referring to the incident as a “hate crime” or outlining a formal plan of action, both of which were included in the SA’s formal statement which was released following an emergency meeting on Thursday.
Guma’s second statement was also deleted from the UGBC Instagram account, but remains on its Facebook page.
“His statement was tone-deaf to the issues going on around campus and did not reflect the AHANA+ voices that we represent,” Monterroso-Bautista said in a statement to The Heights. “As shown through the immense backlash and criticism within the comment section of the first and second posts of his statement, which are almost identical, his statement was racially insensitive and threatened the reputation of UGBC as an organization that values the voices of all students.”
Monterroso-Bautista also said the statement undermined the work of AHANA+ representatives and failed to reflect what was discussed in the general assembly and SA meetings on Jan. 31.
“The statement undermined all the work that several AHANA+ representatives were already putting in to make a statement recognizing the concerns of AHANA+ students and planning tangible steps forward as an organization to address issues of race on campus,” she said. “Overall, this statement damaged the relationship between the student body and their student representatives.”
Per UGBC rules, SA secretary Gianna Russi, MCAS ’22, will read the article into the record on Tuesday. The SA will then debate whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial and whether or not the trial should begin the following week, according to Dennis Wieboldt, UGBC parliamentarian and MCAS ’22.
The trial will begin next Tuesday if a majority of SA representatives present at the meeting vote to certify the article. Both Guma and those charging him with impeachment must submit pre-trial briefs, evidence, and names of witnesses to Wieboldt by Sunday at 8 a.m. to ensure that they comply with the SA’s rules of evidence, Wieboldt told The Heights.
The pre-trial briefs will be distributed to the rest of the SA by Wieboldt on Sunday night, he said. The SA will not have access to the evidence or the names of witnesses until the trial begins.
The formal impeachment and removal of Guma will require a supermajority of the entire SA, not just of those members present at the meeting, to vote in favor of impeachment. The trial may extend beyond a single meeting, and is not likely to conclude until the next scheduled meeting on Feb. 23, Wieboldt said.
“If any member is absent for a substantial part of the trial then they can’t vote at the end,” Wieboldt said. “So for example, our Tuesday meetings usually don’t run longer than an hour, hour and a half. So my guess is that it’ll take longer than an hour, hour and a half, so we’ll automatically go to the next Tuesday meeting, just because that’s when everyone’s schedule is most likely to line up.”
Escobar said that Guma’s administration has made it harder for the SA to foster inclusivity at BC.
“This administration has made it difficult for the student assembly to come together and enact, not just an adequate response to the hate crime on Xavier, but to foster a campus of inclusivity as a whole,” Escobar said. “I cannot, in good faith, stand by while the values of the highest ranking official in this organization are so backwards from those working towards the ideals that I mentioned.”
In his statement to The Heights, Guma said that UGBC still has a lot of work to do in making BC students feel welcome and safe, as well as keeping up campus safety and morale amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m going to continue to do my job as I’ve done it all year, and I hope the Student Assembly joins me and does the same,” Guma said. “When the trial occurs next week I look forward to being acquitted.”
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor