SGA to decide on impeachment


Statom’s formal impeachment process is set to take place at SGA’s first meeting, which is Aug. 26 at 3:30 p.m. in the SGA Chambers. This meeting will be opened to students.

Lavette Williams, Editor-In-Chief

After sharing a post on Instagram that offended many members of the UNA LGBTQ+ community and its allies, 20 Student Government Association (SGA) senators and executive members signed a public request calling for SGA President Jake Statom’s resignation.

The request gave Statom until 5 p.m. on June 30 to resign. Once Statom declared that he would remain in office, SGA’s preparation for a process of impeachment began. His post and impeachment are set to formally be addressed at the first SGA meeting of the semester on Aug. 26 at 3:30 p.m.  

Carson Brite, SGA Student Welfare Chair, said if someone were to Google search UNA’s SGA, news coverage on Statom’s post would pop up.

“[They] aren’t going to see the things we’re doing to help students,” Brite said. “No one is going to remember the progress we made in terms of vocalizing and supporting the renaming of Bibb Graves. No one is going to remember our efforts to improve our relationship with Title IX. They’re going to see this thing about Jake.”

Brite said that he hopes Statom takes this opportunity to prevent SGA from enduring a long, “painful” process.

“He’s been encouraged to take this opportunity since the end of June and here we are at the beginning of August, still exactly where we were in the wake of the post,” Brite said. “[I believe that] everyone is entitled to their opinion, but prejudice is not an opinion. It’s a disease. It’s a problem.” 

According to Article III in the SGA constitution, in order for this process to continue, there would have to be a two-thirds threshold vote from both senate and the student body. 

“Impeachment does not mean removal from office,” said Ellen McDonald, SGA senator. “It would just mean that the charges brought forward were accepted. So, [if] he goes to the judicial branch and appeals, it would be like a regular court appeal.”

Similar to how appeals are decided in the United States courts,the appellant presents a brief, attempting to persuade the judges that the trial court made an error, and that its decision should be reversed.

McDonald said most of the time, when people think of impeachment, they might think of “cancel culture.”

“They automatically think of a group of people going after a person, trying to demonize them, which is usually a part of the process, but [Jake] doesn’t lose all potential,” McDonald said. “He would still have a voice.”

To many SGA members, impeachment is uncharted territory. 

Amber Sandvig, SGA Senator, said the situation in regard to Statom’s impeachment is difficult. 

“There are people with different opinions on both sides of the spectrum in senate, but the way I see it: Jake did break the oath he swore to uphold,” Sandvig said. “I’ve talked to many members of the LGBTQIA+ community who have told me the hurt that Jake’s actions and post have caused them.” 

Sandvig said that she wants students to know that this is not what she or the rest of SGA stands for.

“As long as I am a senator, I will always do my best to advocate for diversity and inclusion,” Sandvig said. “I stand by those in the LGBTQIA+ community and I want them to know that their voice matters. At the end of the day, we as a senate were elected to serve the students of UNA.”

Sandvig said students are going to play a big part in the impeachment process. 

Not only will SGA’s first meeting of the semester allow senators to vote on Statom’s impeachment, but it will also give students the opportunity to express their opinions and concerns during open discussion.

“If there are students there, I really would like for them to talk,” McDonald said. “It’s different for me to say, ‘I want you to step down,’ but another thing for a student who was personally and emotionally affected by his words to say it. I think it’s more powerful. It’s more meaningful.” 

McDonald said it is also a good way for students to feel like they had a say in the situation. 

While students will not be able to vote at the meeting, they will be able to see how senators vote and are encouraged to ask questions as to why their decision was made. 

“It’s going to be hard to be like, ‘this side doesn’t want impeachment and this side does,’ because we weren’t given the opportunity [over the summer] to come together,” McDonald said. “My fear is that this will cause senate to become very divided.” 

This impeachment process and divide among senators has given SGA a glimpse into the political divide in the U.S. government, which can sometimes be seen as Democrats versus Republicans, or liberal versus conservative. 

“SGA has had a generational issue with addressing LGBTQ+ issues,” Brite said. “It’s been a problem all four years I’ve been a part of SGA. It’s something that’s slowly improved, but these comments by Jake take away all that progress.”

Brite said there are a number of available routes for SGA to take.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” Brite said. “If you look at the list of the chairs who signed the [public request], I think four out of five were all appointed by [Jake]. We’re doing the job he appointed us to do. We’re holding him accountable. I hope that whatever comes from this process will be a step in the right direction. I know that we need it desperately.”