News, Top Story

UGBC Parliamentary Board Denies Guma’s Petition to Dismiss His Impeachment Trial

The Parliamentary Board of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College denied UGBC President Christian Guma’s petition to either dismiss a resolution scheduling his impeachment trial for Tuesday or to immediately reconvene the Student Assembly (SA) to debate the resolution again.

“Due to numerous procedural errors and numerous misunderstandings, in addition to clear bias, I believe the only true remedy is to completely dismiss these impeachment charges,” Guma, CSOM ’21, said at the meeting Sunday morning.

Representatives Leonardo Escobar and Mitzy Monterroso-Bautista, co-sponsors of the article of impeachment and MCAS ’22, argued on Sunday against the dismissal of the Feb. 8 resolution which called to proceed with the impeachment trial. The article calls for Guma’s impeachment for his posting of an unattributed statement on UGBC’s Instagram account on Feb. 3. 

The post, which was uploaded in response to the vandalism on the women’s Multicultural Learning Experience (MLE) floor in Xavier Hall, had not been approved by the SA or UGBC’s Community Relations Committee, which is required under the UGBC Constitution. 

The post was captioned, “Our statement regarding the acts of vandalism on the MLE floor this weekend,” and was also criticized by some SA representatives for not referring to the vandalism as a hate crime and not outlining a concrete plan of action.

“Through our actions, not simply words, we’ve made efforts to ensure that no students, especially students of color, feel unsafe in their residence halls or anywhere else on our campus,” the original statement read.

The UGBC account took the original post down and uploaded a different statement that was attributed to the president specifically. 

In Guma’s petition for relief, which he issued on Thursday, he called for the Parliamentary Board to overturn the certification of the impeachment trial, claiming that the Feb. 8 SA meeting was too focused on the merits of the case rather than the amount of evidence.

Guma said on Sunday that the merits of the case should have been discussed during the trial this Tuesday, and that the content of the original post was not relevant to the Feb. 8 meeting.

“The job of the hearing was not to discuss the merits of the charges against me but merely whether there was sufficient evidence to bring it to trial,” Guma said. “But unfortunately the discussion still devolved into the merits of the case. … The content of my statement which was posted on the [UGBC] Instagram last Wednesday has no bearing in this case yet it was a heavy topic of discussion.”

In the notice denying Guma’s petition, the Parliamentary Board—which consists of Dennis Wieboldt, chair of the board and MCAS ’22; Laura Perrault, president pro-tempore and MCAS ’21; and Roatha Kong, Associate Director of Student Organizations—wrote that the discussion of the merits of the charges did not violate the standing rules of the UGBC Constitution.

“First, and perhaps most importantly, debating the sufficiency of evidence for a trial to proceed cannot always be entirely divorced from merit-related considerations,” the notice reads.

In the petition for relief, Guma said that he believes the sponsors of the impeachment are showing racially motivated bias against him.

“In anticipation of the meeting, the Sponsors made comments to The Heights that show racially motivated bias on their behalves,” Guma’s petition reads. “In particular, Rep. Monterroso-Bautista argued that my Feb. 3 statement was not to be taken seriously because I am a ‘white man.’” 

Monterroso-Bautista’s comment that Guma cited appeared in a Heights article about UGBC’s emergency meeting on Feb. 4. 

“It was definitely frustrating when Christian’s statement came out because I felt that it undermined our work and it wasn’t reflective of our voices, not to mention that it was the opinion of a white man,” Monterroso-Bautista told The Heights.

In the Sunday meeting, Monterroso-Bautista denied Guma’s claim that she and other representatives had a racial bias against him.

“Stating that Christian Guma is a white man is not racially motivated bias,” Monterroso-Bautista said. “It is acknowledging his race and the different experiences and outlooks he has as someone who does not identify with a marginalized racial identity.”

In the notice denying Guma’s petition, the Parliamentary Board wrote that if anyone had stated that because Guma is a white man he should not be trusted, it would have likely violated the standing rules because it is unrelated to whether there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

“Rather, this or a similar comment could only serve in an argument that the president should be found responsible at the trial’s conclusion because he cannot be trusted in any circumstance,” the notice read.

Guma also pointed out how evidence for the impeachment trial was sent in a group chat among SA members.

“It is improper and not constitutionally directed to be present in such a way,” Guma said. “The Constitution dictates that that hearing is supposed to be about evidence. The evidence is not supposed to be done over GroupMe.”

The Parliamentary Board said that the fact that evidence sent in the SA group chat did not violate the standing rules.

“Considered in tandem with [Monterroso-Bautista’s] comment about the organization’s reputation and evidence she sent in a Student Assembly group chat that highlighted negative reactions to the post and alleged ‘lack of support offered [to those directly affected],’ we cannot conclude that a violation of S.R.I.8.C.I occurred with respect to debate over the post’s impact on the organization’s reputation,” the notice reads. 

Guma also said that those bringing charges against him are basing their claims on an incorrect reading of the UGBC Constitution. Monterroso-Bautista said in the Feb. 9 meeting that it was inconsequential whether or not Guma knew he was violating the constitution when he posted the statement.

“Unfortunately, this is not what the Constitution says about impeachment,” Guma said. “The Constitution says that impeachment must be ‘knowingly violating with the goal of subverting the original intent of such a provision.’”

Monterroso-Bautista said on Sunday that even if Guma did not knowingly violate the Constitution, the oath he took when he became UGBC president affirms that he is responsible for knowing the Constitution and could be impeached for violating his oath, which asserts that Guma will “support and uphold the Constitution of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College.”

“Guma’s claims that needing to know the Constitution is only a ‘belief’ reveals his lack of commitment in upholding the oath he took when he was sworn into office,” Monterroso-Bautista said. “Guma cannot support, uphold, preserve, or protect the UGBC Constitution if he does not know the provisions within it.”

The Parliamentary Board found that the issue of Guma’s knowledge of the Constitution was relevant to the Feb. 8 meeting.

“Indeed, the Student Assembly’s debate about the president’s knowledge of the Constitution’s statement-related provision(s) would seem material to establishing that sufficient evidence existed to proceed trial,” the notice reads.

Guma also said that last Tuesday’s vote was not fairly conducted and that it would be impossible for a trial to be fairly conducted in the future. According to Guma, representatives had been making comments on the merits of evidence and Guma’s race and gender, all of which should not have been discussed until this Tuesday at the trial itself.

“This impeachment process has been polluted by some of the public statements that were made to The Heights and on social media,” Guma said. “The reality is that many representatives, whether they say it or not, are feeling this culture of fear and are worried about what associations can be made if they vote either no on the charges last Tuesday or vote to acquit me this coming Tuesday.”

Guma supported his argument by pointing out that many members of the SA abstained during last Tuesday’s vote.

“The mere fact that there were 10 abstentions … more than one-third of the Student Assembly abstained, simply shows you that students are afraid to make their voices heard in opposition,” Guma said. “I think it is quite obvious that it is going to get worse.”

Monterroso-Bautista discussed how Guma acknowledged that a typo was made on his first post on the UGBC Instagram account regarding the vandalism on the women’s MLE floor. 

“This caption, made on the official UGBC Instagram account, clearly attributes this statement to UGBC as a whole, portraying it as a formal statement,” Monterroso-Bautista said. “Had Guma followed the correct protocol to releasing formal statements on Instagram, or had he taken the advice of the parliamentarian, this typo either would not have been made or the student body would not have mistaken the statement as a statement on behalf of all of UGBC.”

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

February 15, 2021