Five months of ambiguity in the leadership of the University’s chapter of the College Republicans is nearing an end after the Central Student Judiciary heard opposing arguments from the chair and executive board for more than four hours into the wee hours of Friday morning.
In April, the executive board began impeachment procedures against its newly-elected chair, LSA senior Rachel Jankowski, claiming she allegedly broke Robert’s Rules — guidelines for parliamentary procedure — by amending the group’s constitution without prior notice.
The constitutional amendments Jankowski passed, however, would prevent the chances of her impeachment by requiring a two-thirds vote of the general membership, in addition to an executive board vote, to remove her from office.
In his written opening statements, LSA junior Russ Hayes, the internal vice chair of the College Republicans, alleged that Jankowski drafted the amendments to shield herself from impeachment.
“The spirit of the amendments passed were to circumvent impeachment proceedings,” he said.
Hayes also argued the executive board was not planning to impeach her originally in April. The executive board, he said, merely wanted to discuss differences between the two sides.
Hayes said while Jankowski’s actions as the president had led to “concern,” the board’s preferred course of action was not impeachment.
“Our initial cause for wanting to meet with Ms. Jankowski wasn’t to remove her from office, but to sit down with her and talk about why we had to move forward as a team,” he said.
One of Jankowski’s improper actions, Hayes said, was committing funds from the College Republicans to events with “polarizing political activists,” like the Randy Hekman campaign, then a candidate seeking the Republican nomination for Michigan’s U.S. Senate seat.
However, Jankowski said that is not the case.
“This event had started to be planned under the previous executive board,” she said. “The other members of the (current) voting executive board were well aware of the event.”
She also argued that the amendments to the constitution were an “attempt to provide more transparency to the group.”
“Keeping in mind that the group’s officers are elected by the general membership, the amendment specified that the removal of an officer must also be done by a vote of the general membership, since they were the ones who voted the elected member in,” she said.
LSA junior Elena Brennan, the College Republicans external vice chair, said whether or not the amendments were appropriate isn’t the matter at hand.
“She did not (give prior notice),” Brennan said. “Therefore, all of the amendments of which Ms. Jankowski introduced are in fact void.”
Still, Jankowski called the alleged violations of Robert’s Rules and any other alleged misdeeds of her candidacy “fabricated and trumped-up at best.”
Brian Koziara, a senior advisor to the group who supported Jankowski’s amendments, called the allegations against Jankowski “politically motivated” during his testimony on the witness stand.
“It’s senseless to use (the rules) just to air grievances against voting executive board members,” Koziara said. “Of course they were upset that (she) got elected, and they wanted to remove (her) as soon as possible.”
Jankowski said the struggle over control in the group throughout the months-long ordeal has often crossed the professional boundary, specifically pointing to an incident where she claimed members of the executive board were actively following her in April.
“This stalking incident convinced me that this was no longer a simple matter of these voting e-board members wanting to air their grievances,” she said. “Rather, this had become a politically motivated witch-hunt and attempt to remove me for petty personal purposes.”