by Matthew Taylor
Former A.S. President Jeremiah Finley was impeached Sunday, Feb. 20, after an almost seven hour trial. All members of the Board were present, many providing their testimonies and evidence against Finley. Impeachment was under the violations of A.S Government Codes Section 9, subsections F, J, L, M, and O. He was voted guilty on four of these five charges.
“In order to effectively serve students, we must eliminate fear,” said Social Justice and Equity Officer Sachez, the opening speaker for the trial. “Fear that we will not be allowed to speak our minds without retaliation and fear that, despite mediation, nothing will change.”
Under subsection F, overstepping the bounds of their office without the advice or consent of the Board of Directors, Finley was found guilty of unilateral decision-making, violation of California Law AB 361, and violation of the Gloria Romero Open Meeting Act of 2000.
College of Natural Resources & Sciences Representative Tashenae Burns-Young gave testimony towards these violations. She stated that President Finley refused to give her Zoom access to Feb. 4’s meeting unless she divulged personal reasons to her non in-person attendance. At the time, only Parliamentarian Kate Bourne was given Zoom access by President Finley.
“I would like to start as being a black woman on Associated Students,” Burns-Young said. “I have never felt [more] oppressed by my former BIPOC peers, than by our current president.”
While Burns-Young was able to attend the meeting thanks to Bourne’s own decision to give the Zoom link to all other members, Finley did not count her as quorum and ignored any votes she made during that meeting.
Under subsection L and M, President Finley was found guilty of conduct that was deemed to be causing distress to the Board as a collective whole and continuous displays of disrespect aimed at students of the association. Resigned A.S. member Malluli Cuellar gave testimony to this section.
She gave examples of her many conflicts with President Finley as an A.S. member. In the summer prior to fall 2021, during an agenda prep meeting, Finley had requested that she include a talking point within the agenda that he wished to speak on. She expressed discomfort in allowing this agenda item to be added purely in its state as it wouldn’t allow for a debate between the Board, instead she offered similar alternatives.
“He expressed to me that if the chair was unwilling to work with him,” Cuellar said. “He would simply amend it on to the agenda [in the state he wanted it in].”
This incident caused her immense embarrassment and a growing panic towards speaking with President Finley. While she explained that they later spoke one-on-one and he apologized for his actions, his disrespectful words and actions continued up again not long after.
Lastly, the violation of subsection o. negligence to thoroughly communicate with fellow board members, was testified by both Executive Director Jenessa Lund and College of Natural Resources & Sciences Representative Mark Bulgara.
“When I would support the President in putting agendas together,” Lund said. “I always encourage, like ‘hey can we link it here it’s always best to provide things ahead of time, so people have time to review it and digest it.’ I always got denied.”
Bulgara stated that Finley had neglected to properly educate him on important legislation and his voting rights when he appointed him to his current position. In the end, this ignorance often led him to blindly follow President Finley’s own words on any matter.
“Seeing [this] now, I regret every second that I voted yes for him,” Bulgara said. “Because he has done nothing but betray our trust and he abused my ignorance in being a new member.”
Throughout the entire trial President Finley expressed that all accusations against him were refutable and that he never did anything to break any legal laws nor did he mean to hurt any member with purposeful intent. While he did extend apologies when explicitly asked to by Bulgara, he also expressed himself as a victim to these accusations. He believed many of these accusations to actually stem from personal disagreements and opinions to his own past decisions.
“I don’t see anything in here that results in the punishment that this board is wanting to pursue,” Finley said. “In fact, I feel as though I am being retaliated against for a lot of the ways that I’ve advocated for our students.”
The impeachment trial ended with a unanimous vote by all Board members to impeach Jeremiah Finley from his role as A.S. president.