FAILED: Bill to Remove Conservative ASMSU Representative
Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Authors: John Binkowski and Grant Layle
On Thursday, Feb. 14, the General Assembly of the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) brought forth Bill 55-55.
The bill called for the removal of ASMSU Rep. Sergei Kelley, a conservative-minded student who represents the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It was introduced by ASMSU Rep. Ben Horne of the Lyman Briggs College and seconded by ASMSU Rep. Elizabeth Medlin of the College of Music.
The bill was intended to address Kelley’s use of the name “ASMSU” next to his “Conservative Wave 2019” document and his email signature that uses the ASMSU watermark. When Kelley was sending emails to encourage conservative-minded individuals to run for student government, his signature had an ASMSU watermark.
“Representative Kelley’s actions were clear violations of the ASMSU Code of Operations, ASMSU Constitution, and MSU General Student Regulations, that was a clear consensus of a majority of the assembly. The discussion had in the General Assembly was that our Code currently has no reasonable method to enforce ethical violations, no matter how inappropriate the actions of any Representative," Horne told The Morning Watch.
“I do not think I have broken any code violations… there is no ASMSU logo on the referenced Conservative Wave Plan… but rather on emails I have sent to certain people who use the same email signature I use in all my emails, which includes my position as a student representative,” Kelley said. “I didn’t misrepresent ASMSU because I am one representative, not the whole [General Assembly] GA.”
ASMSU Rep. Oscar Garner III asked, “[i]f we don’t hold some power to reprimand, punish, or remove, what are we just going to let anyone be in here?” Garner represents the Eli Broad College of Business.
“If the terms of holding office have been violated, you should not be able to keep your job… we are the only people able to decide whether Kelley has upheld the duties of the office he was elected to,” said Garner.
Garner failed to make any concrete claims explaining exactly how Kelley violated ASMSU code.
“This will be the first time ever that we remove a representative, and I don’t think this constitutes that… any one of our emails could be subject to the same scrutiny… I think it bodes very bad things for this organization if this is the action we decide to take,” said ASMSU Rep. Harrison Greenleaf. Greenleaf represents the Council of Students with Disabilities.
Other representatives, such as Student Housing Cooperative representative Rory Womack and Alexis Sargent of James Madison College, voiced their agreement with Greenleaf.
ASMSU Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dylan Westrin, noted that there isn’t anything in the code that calls for the removal of any representative, except for the five absences rule. The rule states that a representative can be voted out by a two-thirds majority if a member misses more than five meetings in a given session.
“It is inappropriate to use ASMSU images for your own personal use, especially for political uses. I think that goes against what ASMSU stands for as a representation of all MSU students. Regardless of your political persuasion, you can’t use your role in ASMSU to influence your communication with others,” Alex Chudzik, a MSU student, told The Morning Watch.
Young Americans for Freedom Vice President, Charlie Jones, told The Morning Watch, “[t]he Student Government shouldn’t have the power to expel a member of the body as they were elected by the students of their college. Members of the United States Congress can not be removed from their office by either the Senate or House for this reason. Also, if Mr. Kelley was removed, it would remove the voice of a significant portion of the students at MSU. If this issue is such a large deal, why does ASMSU not invest in specific emails for ASMSU dealings, like the US Congress does?”
Ultimately, Bill 55-55 failed. There were 5 votes in favor, 22 against, and 8 abstentions. Medlin, who seconded the bill, ended up voting against the bill in the end.
Bill 55-55 was amended twice. The first amendment called for a suspension of Kelley from attending GA meetings for one month, as well as suspending his voting power. The second amendment called for only suspending his voting power. A new round of discussions happened, with little or no forward movement. The bill eventually returned to its natural state, to which it was voted down.
Contributors: John Binkowski and Grant Layle