The Engineering Student Council voted to remove its president, Aida Lu, SEAS ’19, from office during its general body meeting on Monday night.
The vote came after class of 2019 representative, Montana St. Pierre, SEAS ’19, motioned to impeach Lu a week prior, citing absences from meetings, her delegation of tasks to other members, and her general behavior on council as grounds for impeachment. He characterized her behavior as inconsiderate towards other council members.
“Generally the knowledge of Aida’s behavior is well known by the entire council, people are frustrated by it,” St. Pierre said. “This semester there had been a substantial decrease in the effort [and time] that she devotes to the council.”
However, in an interview with Spectator following the impeachment, Lu contested some of these allegations, highlighting in particular her good meeting attendance record.
“I actually went through my calendar and my emails and counted up the meetings that I’ve had with administrators, and I’ve had more than 50 [external] meetings, out of those I think three came into the question in the testimony,” Lu said. “Just looking at 50 meetings, I’ve had a 94 percent attendance rate.”
Lu will be replaced by Ben Barton, SEAS ’18 and former vice president of student life, who will serve as interim president until the next election cycle in April. No timeline was made clear for the appointment of Barton’s replacement.
The investigation process was conducted by a special committee made up of six council members: a member of each class council, a member of the executive board, and an at-large representative. At Monday’s meeting, which was closed to members of the press and general public, the committee asked for testimonies from council members, including Lu and St. Pierre, as well as non-council members who have worked with Lu.
After council members presented their testimonies and Lu made her defense, ESC’s members voted overwhelmingly to remove her from office, with 23 members voting for and 4 against—well above the required two-thirds majority.
“I think it’s surprising for anyone to go so far as to motion to impeach someone because I think if you have a working relationship with someone there are a lot of ways where you could obviously handle this issue before it gets to the point of impeachment and I don’t think those steps were taken,” said Julia Joern, SEAS ’18 and vice president of communications. “But I did have the sense that possibly this is something that could have occured and I did hear some rumblings about it happening in the week prior.”
Lu pointed to shortcomings in the proceedings that she believed hurt her ability to accurately respond to the allegations against her. In particular, she claimed she received no communication from the special committee until Sunday and was subsequently given less than 24 hours to respond to the full testimonies provided by council members.
“I was completely cut out of communications and was never contacted by the special committee about impeachment proceedings at all,” Lu said. “I basically went in blind with no idea of what was going to happen.”
Overall, Lu cited a need for clearer impeachment protocols in the current constitution, pointing to an older version of the constitution that mandates more specific steps, including a petition with at least 10 signatures of council members.
“The impeachment process as it stands in the constitution is very skewed heavily against whoever is being impeached, no matter who that person might be, and I’m really sad that it had to come to this,” Lu said.
This is the second time St. Pierre has motioned for the impeachment of a fellow council member. Last December, St. Pierre called for the impeachment of then-vice president of finance Austen Paris, who resigned before any further proceedings could take place.
In a statement released by ESC on their Facebook page Tuesday afternoon, members of the executive board and of the special committee clarified the specific constitutional duties that Lu violated.
These include allegations of not attending important meetings or delegating tasks to others, sharing confidential information with students outside of council, not representing the opinions of council or student body, as well as personal behavior such as undue criticism and shaming of fellow council members.
Note: Aida Lu is in a relationship with Spectator’s publisher, Michael Tai. As head of Spectator’s business division, Tai is not involved in any of Spectator’s editorial content.