In contentious meeting, Senate discusses member’s departure from judicial affairs board

Dec. 4, 2019, 1:53 a.m.

At the 15th meeting of the 21st Undergraduate Senate, members discussed Senator Sam Schimmel’s ’22 departure from the Board on Judicial Affairs (BJA) and approved all recommended undergraduate standard grants. 

Near the beginning of the meeting, Schimmel announced that he had resigned from the Board of Judicial Affairs of which he was formerly co-chair. The BJA is composed of faculty and staff, as well as both graduate and undergraduate students. It advises the Office of Community Standards (OCS) on student conduct issues, according to BJA chair Catherine Sanchez, a sociology Ph.D. student.

Senator Kobe Hopkins ’22 said that he’d heard from the board’s other co-chair that Schimmel was removed from the co-chair position due to inappropriate behavior. 

In an email to The Daily, Sanchez wrote that the board “voted Sam out” of the co-chair position while asking him to remain on the board, but Schimmel resigned from the board. In a subsequent statement, Sanchez wrote that the board voted him out because his “behavior as co-chair over the preceding 9 weeks led to him losing the confidence of the board.” 

In the Senate meeting, Schimmel said that he was not comfortable speaking on the topic. 

“Right now I’m not comfortable or willing to talk about what happened in that space,” he said. “I think that this is something that should be discussed in private so as not to compromise the University or the Board of Judicial Affairs.”

In a statement to The Daily, Schimmel wrote, “I experienced the injustice I was trying to prevent. I resigned due to the hostile environment, bullying and lack of due process and justice I experienced in that space.” 

In the Senate meeting, Hopkins insisted that they discuss the matter further, especially since Schimmel is on the Judicial Charter Review Committee of 10 (C-10), a new body charged with reviewing the Honor Code and Judicial Charter. 

“I don’t necessarily see this as a private issue considering that you’re still serving on the C-10 as a senator representative,” Hopkins said. “The fact that you were not even able to stay on the board as a general member — you resigned from it altogether — causes concern in terms of how you would be working in this joint operation.”

Senators moved on to other issues — including a winter-quarter mental-health town hall— until Schimmel brought up his departure from BJA again.

“To say that there was misconduct on my part is a mischaracterization,“ he said. “To be clear about how I was removed from the co-chair position on the board — there was no process. The process was made up three minutes before I was removed. I asked them to vote for transparency — they voted no on it.”

In his statement to The Daily, Schimmel wrote, “When I motioned for a vote for transparency of process, the board unanimously voted against transparency. When I asked them about any process, they had none. … They threw due process and justice out the window.”

Sanchez told The Daily that the BJA’s decision to vote Schimmel out of his position came after “two meetings of discussion.” 

Sanchez said that the board created a procedure to remove a co-chair with a two-thirds majority of members by a secret ballot vote. Sanchez added that Schimmel proposed a change to the procedure that the rest of the board voted against. Then, Sanchez said, Schimmel was voted out unanimously, with Schimmel abstaining. 

The Senate spent the rest of the meeting discussing winter-quarter standard grants. Out of all requested grants, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended a subset that was approved unanimously by the Senate. The senators’ initial goal was to reduce their allocation budget from $125,000 to $110,000. 

One of their largest grant requests was from Dv8, a dance group on campus. According to Senator Tim Vrakas ’21, last year, the group did not spend the funds awarded returned it to the ASSU at the end of the year. But the Senate ultimately approved Dv8’s request of $5,500.

At the end of the meeting, the committee kept its budget at $125,000, since, according to Senator Jonathan Lipman ’21, the money the Senate allocates is usually more than student groups end up spending.

This article has been updated to clarify that according to Lipman, the money the Senate allocates is usually more than student groups end up spending.

Contact Clara Kieschnick at ckiesch ‘at’

Clara Kieschnick ‘22 is a writer for The Daily’s campus life news beat. She is majoring in Biology and Comparative Literature, and grew up between Taiwan, Spain, England and California. You can follow her at @clara.metalstraws on Instagram. Contact her at [email protected].

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