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SGA Senator narrowly survives impeachment hearing

Senators fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to impeach Public Relations Chair Sahan Theegala

The Student Government Association held an impeachment hearing for their Public Relations chair on Monday after what SGA President Jayde Dieu called a  “direct display of dishonesty.”

Sophomore Arts and Sciences Senator Sahan Theegala was accused of neglecting his duties as PR chair, infringing on powers of other SGA members, involving outsiders in internal affairs, and attempting to get another senator to abstain from voting on impeachment. The evidence provided were transcripts of previous Teams meetings and screengrabs of emails, Instagram DMs and texts. 

The senate needed a two-thirds majority to successfully impeach Theegala. 

Theegala was given four charges, the first being that he consistently failed to follow duties as PR chair. According to the evidence presented, he neglected to post and promote events on the organization’s Instagram despite being asked to multiple times. In her closing statement, Dieu said that the editorial board made another Instagram account to make sure event information got out.

During the Involvement Fair on Aug. 31, Theegala was absent. SGA Secretary Megan O’Brien, who was not present at the hearing, was one of the witnesses to the first charge. In her statement, she said that SGA President Jayde Dieu “should not have been the one” to set up the table by herself at the Involvement Fair.

Theegala’s second charge was infringing on other SGA members’ positions and powers. The evidence provided was a timeline on Engage of the primary contact role for the organization being switched between Theegala and O’Brien, who is supposed to have that role. He denied switching the names, and said he was a “secondary contact for students.”

His third charge was the misrepresentation of the completion of tasks and involving people outside of SGA in internal affairs. On Oct. 23, the day before the SGA Town Hall, there was evidence of a password change on the SGA Instagram via email and evidence that those emails were deleted. A two-factor authentication process was added to the account with Theegala’s personal phone number. 

Theegala said he deleted the emails so that others who use it would not see his personal information. He added that he had notified the SGA advisors, Emma Murphy and Dean Winston Roberts, that he had changed the password.

Roberts, who is the Assistant Vice President for Student Services, said that there was a chain of emails between him and Theegala, but he was the one who emailed first.

The fourth charge was for attempting to get another senator to abstain from voting on impeachment. Evidence showed that one of the senators he reached out to was Daniel Braile, a junior at-large senator.

A petition to remove Theegala from SGA had been sent out to the senators. Braile clarified that the petition was just to bring the charges forward, but that many of the senators didn’t know it was going around. By the time Theegala reached out, Braile had already signed the petition. “I wanted to see the evidence,” he said. 

Braile also added that he thought the hearing was just to vote to remove Theegala from his position as PR Chair, not to remove him entirely from SGA. “I didn’t know until an hour ago,” he said.

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During closing statements, Theegala asked the senate to “look at the facts realistically.” 

He added that he has been “transparent” with recent personal struggles. In April, he contracted COVID-19 and had a family emergency. Along with taking 17 credits, and working this semester, he said he had other serious health and physical issues, which led him to be hospitalized. He added that Instagram posts continued to go up even during his hospitalization. 

“Nobody takes on these roles hoping to get sick,” Theegala said. 

The senators voted using a secret ballot. The vote was 13-10, not in favor of impeachment. Since two-thirds of the senate did not vote to impeach, Theegala remains as the PR chair. With this vote, he also received majority acquittal of all charges.

Emma Thumann can be reached at emma.thumann@student.shu.edu.

Changes were made on Nov. 29 to correct errors regarding the final vote.

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