Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GUSA Senator Impeached, Removed from Office

The Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) Senate voted to impeach and remove Senator Olivia Valante (CAS ’24) from the senate at its Feb. 5 meeting for accumulating excessive unexcused absences.

GUSA limits members to two unexcused absences per senate session, and further unexcused absences are grounds for removal. Valante missed all four meetings of GUSA’s November session without excuse, according to the impeachment resolution.

Nineteen senators voted in favor of her removal from office, with four opposed and two abstaining. This met the two-thirds majority threshold for impeachment. 

GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee Chair John DiPierri (SFS ’25), GUSA Senate Speaker Manahal Fazal (SFS ’24) and GUSA Policy and Advocacy Committee Chair Joshua Bernard-Pearl (SFS ’25) introduced the articles of impeachment against Valante. Senate Vice Speaker Alicia Gopal (CAS ’25) initially sponsored the resolution but asked during the meeting for her name to be removed as sponsor.

“Senator Valante has accumulated four unexcused absences, missing meetings on Nov. 13, Dec. 4, Jan. 22 and Feb. 5, which has been every single meeting of the 18th senate November session thus far,” DiPierri said at the meeting. 

Valante did not respond to requests for comment.

Valante did not submit any requests for an excused absence to the senate, according to the articles of impeachment.

“Senate leadership has, on multiple occasions, publicized the existence of an excused-absence request form as well as clarified that advanced notice must be given for any excused-absence to be granted,” the articles of impeachment read. 

GUSA President Camber Vincent (SFS ’24), the previous speaker of the senate, said Valante had also missed several senate meetings during the body’s prior session. Vincent said that he had reached out to Valante but received no response.

The impeachment of Valante is the first of its kind since August 2019, when the senate impeached but did not remove Senator Peter Lee Hamilton (CAS ’20), also for accumulating unexcused absences.

Kassidy Angelo / The Hoya | The GUSA Senate impeached and removed Senator Olivia Valante (CAS ’24) for accruing four unexcused absences Feb. 5.

DiPierri said removing a senator from office is a last resort that the GUSA Senate has rarely had to enforce.

“It is very rare that the GUSA Senate takes articles of impeachment up,” DiPierri said at Sunday’s senate meeting. “This is a rather unprecedented incident for the vast majority of senators who were not here through an impeachment process.” 

Bernard-Pearl said Valante’s unexcused absences could not be overlooked, as senator attendance at meetings is integral to the functioning of GUSA.

“If we are not being serious with attendance, then the order of this institution falls down,” Bernard-Pearl said at the meeting.

A majority of members of the senate’s Ethics and Oversight committee, which Senator Bora Balçay (SFS ’23) currently chairs, must first approve impeachment resolutions before the full senate can vote on them, according to GUSA bylaws. 

DiPierri moved to break the rules and introduce the resolution without prior Ethics and Oversight approval.

Balçay, Bernard-Pearl and Gopal initially favored tabling the resolution until after the Ethics and Oversight committee had the chance to vote on the resolution, although Balçay said that the committee would likely give its approval.

“As senators, we like to take breaking the rules fairly seriously,“ Balçay said at the meeting. “I would rather give the option of discussion by the committee first, then move by the senate.”

DiPierri said that waiting for the Ethics and Oversight committee to meet would waste time, encouraging members to confirm the articles of impeachment directly. 

“The idea of waiting two or three weeks to get six people to meet together, who meet very infrequently anyway, together to decide this, which could essentially be a 30-second conversation, is not a good use of our time,” DiPierri said. “Over those three weeks, we will have a senate seat that is essentially vacant. I hesitate to tabling this, because you are essentially preventing student voices.”

The senate ultimately approved the motion to impeach in a 19-4 vote, with Gopal and Senator Saatvik Sunkavalli (SFS ’25) abstaining and Senators Max Massick (CAS ’24), Chijioke Achebe (SFS ’25), George Currie (CAS ’26) and Rob Arzano (CAS ’24) voting against Valante’s impeachment. Valante’s seat as a Class of 2024 senator will be filled through appointment before the next senate meeting Feb. 19.

DiPierri emphasized the importance of GUSA senators participating in student government.

“We are just trying to expedite the process of having someone here who wants to be here, and actively engaged in not only our club, but the institution and the Georgetown community,” DiPierri said.

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