ASOSU House of Representatives to consider impeaching Speaker

Peter Halajian is the Speaker of the House of Representatives and is serving his first year with the Associated Students of Oregon State University. 

Joe Wolf, Engagement Editor

Peter Halajian admits to some concerns, believes others are personal attacks

Several members of the Associated Students of Oregon State University have introduced legislation to impeach Speaker of the House Peter Halajian. This Wednesday, March 14, the House will meet to discuss whether or not the speaker will be brought to a trial in the Senate.

The resolution was read in the House last week with one of its main authors, former ASOSU Vice President Radhika Shah, presenting the rationale to remove the speaker. She alleged that Halajian was frequently absent from the student government’s leadership meetings and does not work his full 20 hours a week, despite being paid $960 per month of student fees.

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“In general, the speaker is not upholding the oath he took,” Shah said. “It is time we hold our leaders accountable, it has been 20 weeks too long.”

Halajian feels many of the charges against him are personal, rather than based on his work. He accepted that some of the issues raised in the resolution are valid, but was concerned that members of the body did not bring them to his attention sooner.

“I think this aired some grievances that have gone unsaid for awhile,” Halajian said. “We can move past this and going in to next term, I think we will be in a better position with this out in the open.”

Shah said the decision to bring these concerns to light at this point in the year was made after allowing Halajian, who had no previous experience in student government, time to transition into his position.

“I bring it up now because there are still people in this office that are affected by him, and if no one brings it up, then those people are still impacted by his lack of work ethic,” Shah said. “I find it astonishing he thinks it is personal and he is comfortable doing the bare minimum.”

Hallajian admitted to not working exactly 20 hours a week every week, with the number of hours varying more or less depending on what business is on the agenda. He agreed that this inconsistency has had ripple effects on other members of the staff, including Shah.

“Everything else on there is either an oversight or a personal attack,” Halajian said. “You only go the route of impeachment if someone has behaved immorally, illegally or unethically, and I have done none of those.”

In the text of the articles of impeachment, Shah and the other authors also said Halajian did not deliver student fee legislation within the constitutionally allotted three days to ASOSU President Simon Brundage. Halajian said this was an oversight not only on his part, but on others as well. The ASOSU constitution does not specify who is required to deliver the legislation to the president, though the speaker has fulfilled this role on most occasions.

“Even though we are a student government, we are still beholden to the school. If we had taken the time to reintroduce the legislation, it would have hindered our jobs,” Halajian said.

Shah personally feels students in general should be concerned that the issues raised have continued this year without being addressed.

“As branch heads, we were supposed to hold each other accountable. To a certain level, you cannot tell another leader what they should be doing: that is where the adviser comes in,” Shah said. “It also concerns me that the adviser Drew Desilet has not been doing this. He is also impacting students, often very negatively. There is definitely a bigger issue at hand.”

Looking to Wednesday’s meeting, when the House will vote on whether or not to impeach him, Halajian expects to keep his position.

“Regardless of whether or not this passes, changes are going to be made,” Halajian said.

Shah also expects the resolution will not pass, but intended the effort to prompt conversations and provide Halajian with a tangible list of things to improve.

“In my personal opinion, a strong leader should be holding their subordinates accountable and not visa versa,” Shah said. “I also think members of House would learn that we need more than a slap on the wrist, but I do not think that is going to happen.”

The Articles of Impeachment were authored by the following students:

Radhika Shah

Aiden Tariku, ASOSU Vice-President Elect

Vanessa Leon-Guerrero, ASOSU Assistant Director of Promotion and Outreach

Safi Ahmad, ASOSU Chief of Staff

Meghan Bali, ASOSU Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs

Kylie Boenisch, ASOSU Coordinator of Veterans Affairs

 

In the House, the legislation was sponsored by the following undergraduate representatives:

Greg Heinonen

Isai Garcia

Seth Thomas

Michael Haffner

Zack Buhlmann