The student senate at Clemson University voted to impeach its vice president this week after he recently refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
On Monday, student senators voted 40-18 to impeach vice president Jaren Stewart, who is African-American, The State reported. The vote happened in secret, while Stewart was out of town attending a conference in Washington, D.C.
Student Sen. Miller Hoffman filed the impeachment resolution earlier this week, citing misconduct allegations against the VP stemming from his time as a resident assistant in April, according to campus paper The Tiger. Hoffman claimed Stewart failed to fulfill his duties as student body VP and was therefore unfit to hold the office.
He denied the impeachment efforts had anything to do with race or the recent pledge protest. “I can’t stress enough how the situation has absolutely nothing to do with the flag protest, or contain any racial motivation at all,” Hoffman said at Monday’s meeting. “Such narrative is without evidence and is completely untrue,” Hoffman said.
Stewart’s impeachment hearing is set for Monday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m., the campus newspaper reported. If successful, he will be removed from office, after which he’ll have five business days to appeal the decision with the student government’s Supreme Court.
Stewart and several other students sat through the Pledge of Allegiance during a Sept. 25 student government meeting in a show of solidarity with NFL players protesting racism and police brutality in America. The protest continued at Monday’s meeting, as other students refused to stand.
Many of Stewart’s supporters aren’t convinced his impeachment isn’t racially motivated, however.
“The fact is Jaren is our representation on this campus, and it goes back to he’s black. He’s black and he is in charge, man,” one student said, according to local station WYFF. “That’s the reality. He is our representation and y’all want to remove him, and none of you are going to be willing to stand up and beat that for us. You’re just taking that away so we have less of a voice.”
According to The Tiger, this isn’t the first time the student senate has tried to boot the VP from office. Hoffman introduced a motion to impeach Stewart during an Oct. 9 senate meeting, but it was struck down. A procedural error occurred, however, causing an accidental reversal in voting process rules related to objections.
“Where I went wrong is that a two-thirds vote is needed to sustain the objection,” Sen. Leland Dunwoodie told The Tiger last week. “I thought it was that two-thirds is needed to overrule the objection … It was an honest mistake; I truly apologize.”
Hoffman was ultimately allowed to reintroduce the articles of impeachment against Stewart.
Students have since launched a petition asking university leaders to step in because, “there is no way that Vice President Stewart would receive a fair trial considering that these biases do indeed exist.”
“We aren’t sure how much power upper administration has over student government but they do need to be made aware of the situation,” Khayla Williams, a computer science major, told the newspaper. “They need to understand that the student body never said that they wanted the impeachment of Jaren Stewart.”
The petition will reportedly be presented to university leaders on Friday, Oct. 27.