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The University News

The Student News Site of Saint Louis University

The University News

The Student News Site of Saint Louis University

The University News

President Govan Impeached

Vote for Impeachment of President Marquis Govan Passes 22-4

During a three-hour long closed Senate session, the Student Government Association impeached former President Marquis Govan in a landslide vote of 22-4 on Wednesday night.  

The vote on Nov. 1 follows allegations made by former vice president of international affairs, Nikolay Remizov, against Govan last month. This event marks the first ever documented successful impeachment of a SLU SGA student body president.

The impeachment bill stated that “the President has shown a consistent overreach of power in the role,” citing specific occurrences.   

After the closed senate vote, vice president of communications & international affairs, Ryan Tisdale, was immediately sworn in as interim president. Tisdale led the Internal Affairs Committee and headed the investigation into the charges against Govan. 

(Owen Herdrick / The University News)

Tisdale refused to comment on the investigation and vote. Other senators and executive members stated that the situation was sensitive and they were unsure what they could share. 

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The timeline for a new presidential election is unclear. According to Article 6.3.G of SGA’s bylaws, all nominees are supposed to be presented within two weeks of vacancy. Senator Reueline Arulanandam confirmed the vote will be made by senators, not the student body.

The voting was anonymous and closed to the public. Each senator wrote their vote on a slip of paper and placed it into a wooden box. The executive board was not allowed to vote. Govan was not present during the vote of impeachment and was told privately the vote results by SGA faculty advisor, Bill Boxdorfer and speaker of the Senate, Luke Busboom. 

After the closed session commenced, Busboom informed the public and Facebook live viewers that the motion to impeach was passed. 

After accusations made by Remizov on Oct. 11, internal affairs began their investigation. Remizov claimed that Govan had threatened to impeach him in a private meeting after Remizov had sent a story Govan had posted on his personal Instagram account to the Jewish Student Association group chat. 

While the initial conflict between Remizov and Govan surrounded Govan’s pro-Palestine social media activity, Senator Arulanandam confirmed the impeachment had nothing to do with alleged anti-semitic concerns.

Govan addressed the allegations made against him at the SGA meeting on Oct. 18, stating that he had in fact gone into a meeting angry but had never threatened the impeachment or expulsion of Remizov. 

Govan was given the chance to talk to the Senate before the vote and fielded questions and concerns from senators. Senators interviewed by the University News stated that the environment was kept civil, but did not comment on what questions were raised and what was debated. 

All other bills on Wednesday’s agenda were rescheduled leaving only Senate Bill 012-23 to impeach Govan on the docket. 

According to the Nov. 1 meeting agenda, the bill was proposed and written by senator for the college of public health and sciences, Reueline Arulanandam, speaker of the Senate, Luke Busboom, senator for the college of arts and sciences, Liliana Cisneros, senator for the school of social work, Sam Hall and first-year student senator, Camille Smith. 

The bill stated that Govan had directly violated the SGA Constitution and could be voted to be removed from office.

The bill further stated that Govan had not upheld the ideals and values of the Jesuit Catholic Tradition when he “suggested that former VP Remizov could formally resume his position within a week’s time.”

Senators reviewed screenshots of texts presumably between Remizov and Govan but did not comment on the details of the evidence. The presented Senate bill stated, “Whereas various text messages show President Govan putting pressure on Former VP Remizov to submit his resignation.” 

Further, the bill states that Govan unlawfully forced Remizov to resign.

“Whereas, once a VP has resigned, they are no longer part of Senate in any capacity, making it unconstitutional for the President to appoint them back into their role in the future. Whereas, President Govan pushed VP Remizov to resignation under false pretenses,” according to SB 012-23.

The atmosphere during the closed session was tense and focused, according to Senator Arulanandam.

“I think nobody in the room was interested in making history with this. This isn’t an easy decision that any of us wanted to make,” Arulanandam said. “Nobody wanted to be in this position in the first place, and again I don’t think that anybody is happy that this is like that.” 

In an email statement sent late Wednesday night addressing the impeachment, SGA wrote that they were committed to transparency. “We want to assure you that this decision was made after a fair and unbiased evaluation of the situation,” the email read. 

“I believe that it was handled by our internal affairs committee quite well, I believe that the vice president of internal affairs and now acting president, Ryan Tisdale, did a great job at keeping a non-bias and keeping it contained within the internal affairs committee,” said Allie Thornton, senator for the Chaifetz School of Business.

Govan and some senators exited the chambers clearly distraught, others could be heard laughing during the closed session. Other senators felt the impeachment was not a reflection on Govan’s character. 

“I am heartbroken about the situation as a whole … I want to reiterate that this was not at all a case of judgment of him as a person, and ultimately we are all a part of the SLU community to work together and work towards a greater good and this had to occur,” said Brett Sharp, senator for the college of arts and sciences.

Many factors contributed to the final vote. A packet of evidence was provided to members of the Senate including tweets, texts and personal statements made by Remizov and Govan. 

“It was probably the personal statements that were most compelling to hear from both sides, it was very enlightening, and I think it’s extremely important to take all perspectives when considering a matter so important as the one at stake,” Thornton said.  

SGA members are now hoping to move forward and learn lessons from these events in order to best serve the SLU community. 

“Now that it has happened we will learn and grow as a community to figure out the steps we can take from here,” said Hikmat Roumany, senator for residence hall association. “There isn’t any hate or discretion to any party of any affiliation. We all came from understanding perspectives and came to a vote at the end, and that’s what it came to.” 

It remains unclear if the impeachment would affect any of Govan’s potential or current scholarships. 

The vote for a new president will take place by the Senate, based upon recommendations made by the Senate and executive board. The formal election for SGA president of the 2024-2025 school year will take place as planned in Feb. 2024. 

SGA encourages student feedback about the future of the Student Government. 

Additional reporting from Owen Herdrick. 

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Sophia Brummond
Sophia Brummond, Copy Editor
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