By Nick Smith
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, December 1, 2005
ASUA Senate to hold hearing on last day of classes for president's future
The student senate will hold a hearing next week to decide whether to impeach Student Government President Cade Bernsen after two women in the Associated Students of the University of Arizona filed sexual harassment complaints against him, officials said at last night's meeting.
Bernsen, who did not attend the meeting, said the allegations are completely false and he intends to defend himself, according to a statement he gave to the Arizona Daily Wildcat last night.
The complaints state that Bernsen, 27, made repeated unwelcome sexual comments and inappropriately touched the women while in the office of the ASUA.
The Wildcat is not identifying either woman because of the nature of the complaint.
Text of Cade Bernsen's comments
|The allegations against me reported in the Arizona Daily Wildcat yesterday are totally and completely false. These allegations are embarrassing and hurtful to me, my family, my friends and to the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. I first learned of these allegations within the past 48 hours.
I have been informed and it has been discovered that there have been ongoing secret meetings by certain individuals to manufacture this attack on me and to force me out of office. These meetings have been used to orchestrate the particular allegations, the timing and release of these allegations to the media and others, and the recruitment of participants to support their scheme.
It is my intent to defend myself to the fullest. However, I will try my case before the dean of students, and I will not violate procedures, policy and spirit of the process by attempting to do so in the press.
I trust you understand my position.
The purpose of the impeachment hearing, scheduled for Wednesday at 5 p.m., is not to determine whether Bernsen is innocent or guilty regarding the harassment complaints, but to decide whether to file impeachment charges, said Sen. Patrick Cook, pre-education sophomore and vice chair of the senate.
In the meantime, the senate will investigate the validity of the allegations against Bernsen by speaking with the students who filed the complaints and others who may have yet to come forward, Cook said.
If the senate gives the majority vote to impeach Bernsen, he will lose all administrative powers until the ASUA Supreme Court decides his fate. Four out of the five justices must favor impeaching Bernsen before he can be removed from office, Cook said.
In the event Bernsen is removed from office or resigns, Executive Vice President Erin Hertzog will take his place and will be in charge of appointing a new vice president, Cook said.
In his statement, Bernsen said the allegations are "totally and completely false," and he will try his case before the dean of students.
Bernsen said he first learned of the allegations two days ago, and said that he has since discovered there have been ongoing secret meetings by certain individuals to manufacture the attack on him to force him out of office.
"These meetings have been used to orchestrate the particular allegations, the timing and release of these allegations to the media and others, and the recruitment of participants to support their scheme," Bernsen said in the statement.
ASUA Coordinator Claudia Davila, ASUA Adviser Jim Drnek and Hertzog, a journalism junior, would not comment on the allegations.
- Danielle Rideau contributed to this report.