With the Yale College Council elections coming up this week, YCC Representative Alan Kennedy-Shaffer ’06 — who, as a second-semester senior, is no longer eligible to serve as a representative — will not leave the Council without a fight and has moved to impeach three officers of the YCC Executive Board.
After three year-long terms on the YCC, Kennedy-Shaffer introduced an unsuccessful amendment to the YCC constitution last semester that would allow second-semester seniors to run in the January elections for a semester-long term. At an emergency YCC meeting on Sunday that drew three council members, Kennedy-Shaffer held another vote on the amendment, which passed with two in favor of the resolution and one abstaining. But the vote was not legitimate because it did not have the required quorum of the Council, and the elections will proceed in the manner determined by the Council last fall, YCC President Steven Syverud ’06 said.
“We’ve really done as much as possible to give this every chance at passing before the full Council, and it hasn’t had the support to pass,” Syverud said. “We have such a long list of things we want to accomplish this semester … We just can’t humor Alan every time he wants to go tilting at windmills.”
At the meeting, Kennedy-Shaffer also moved to impeach Syverud, YCC Vice President Marissa Brittenham ’07 and Treasurer Emery Choi ’07 on a variety of counts, although a number of council members said they do not support the impeachment charges. An impeachment hearing will be held on Wednesday night and will be moderated by Secretary Kasdin Miller ’07, according to an e-mail sent by Kennedy-Shaffer last night.
“The president, vice president and treasurer have placed themselves above the law, and that is immoral, unconstitutional and undemocratic,” Kennedy-Shaffer said.
Kennedy-Shaffer and two other seniors, Taylor Davis ’06 and Vladislav Vainberg ’06, want to run in the elections and registered by Sunday night’s deadline, Kennedy-Shaffer said. He said he will drop the charges against Syverud and Brittenham if they allow all three seniors to run.
But Syverud said the amendment has already been voted on and failed, and the Council will not consider changing the election rules in light of the ultimatum.
Several YCC members contacted by the News after the Sunday meeting said they do not support the impeachment of the officers.
YCC Representative Jeff Sun ’08 said he thinks the vote to hold impeachment hearings against Syverud, Brittenham and Choi was unreasonable and undemocratic. He said Kennedy-Shaffer should have raised the issue at one of the Council’s bi-weekly meetings in the presence of the full membership in order for the votes to be legitimate.
“The thought of wanting to impeach Marissa, Steven or Emery is just unbelievable,” Sun said. “By and large the Council is behind them, and I think by and large the student body is behind them as well.”
Kennedy-Shaffer alleges that Syverud and Brittenham have violated Yale’s Undergraduate Regulations by excluding seniors from the upcoming elections. Kennedy-Shaffer has also charged Syverud with failure to submit his selection for the position of Yalestation chair to the Council for approval and has charged Choi with failure to submit the budget for Council approval. The impeachment charges were approved by one vote in favor and two abstentions on each count at the Sunday meeting, Kennedy-Shaffer said.
Kennedy-Shaffer’s “Equal Access Amendment” was introduced on two occasions at the end of last semester and failed both times, Brittenham said.
But Kennedy-Shaffer said Brittenham and Choi used “questionable parliamentary maneuvers” to keep the amendment from passing.
“Historically, this clause has never been enforced and would not be except for the fact that certain members of the Executive Board want to get me off the Council by any means necessary,” he said. “In reality, two-thirds of the representatives present did vote for the Amendment, so the Executive Board’s excuses are simply aimed at obstructing the will of the Council.”
In one vote on the Amendment, nine representatives voted in favor of the amendment, five voted against, and five abstained, Miller said. But after Kennedy-Shaffer found an old YCC bylaw that said abstentions do not count when ratifying an amendement, the YCC re-voted on the amendment, and 10 voted against the amendment, four voted in favor, and two abstained, Miller said.
But one YCC representative, who wished to remain anonymous, said she thinks Kennedy-Shaffer is clearly misrepresenting the outcome of the vote. Initially, many members of the Council abstained, he said, and Kennedy-Shaffer is not taking these abstentions into account when he claims he had the support of the majority.
“He’s kind of being a spin doctor with that,” the YCC representative said. “Basically an abstention in this case was a vote against the Equal Access Amendment.”
Last week, Kennedy-Shaffer issued a memo to the Yale College Dean’s Office requesting an injunction to prevent the Council from excluding members of the senior class from the January elections.
Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg said she did not wish to comment on the situation at this time.
Brittenham said that although Kennedy-Shaffer will not be eligible for re-election, he will still be able to participate in the Council as an associate member if he so chooses.