Questions raised by Joe Vogel's removal

On Monday, Joe Vogel was officially removed from the Student Association Senate for violation of attendance policy when 22 of the 29 senators present at the hearing voted against him.

Vogel had missed four consecutive committee meetings last semester, a violation of SA bylaws. He was suspended last November and given the opportunity to petition for reinstatement before moving to a removal hearing, which didn’t work out in his favor. In some ways, Vogel’s removal hearing raised several questions that have yet to be answered.

Why exactly does this seem so unprecedented?

First, allow me to be clear: the SA abided by their own bylaws in the punishment against Vogel, at no time did they deviate from the bylaws surrounding attendance, suspension, and removal. However, what’s unprecedented about this is how rare removal hearings seem to be.

Suspensions happen fairly often, there was one last semester other than Vogel, and that senator was immediately reinstated. However, in all my research across GW-oriented news sites, I could find no reports of the removal of a senator prior to this one. That doesn’t mean this is the first one, but it does show just how rare these cases can be. Most of the time, senators appear to be reinstated without a removal hearing ever being necessary.

Are there other senators in violation of attendance policy that aren’t being punished?

In a letter sent to the Rival, Vogel insisted that there are senators in violation of attendance policy facing down no punishment, according to the SA's attendance document.

When I asked the SA for attendance records, I was informed that they don’t release attendance records for senate meetings to the public, and that in order to give them to me the senate would have to vote to “approve” them. Without these records there’s no way to actually prove this, but also no way to disprove it.

Was the problem with Vogel or his committee?

Vogel was part of the Student Life Committee. The Student Life Committee was plagued with lack of attendance from more than just Vogel.

Last semester, on Oct 5. and Oct. 19, so few senators attended the committee meetings that they were unable to conduct business. Interesting to note that Vogel was one of the few senators to be present at the Oct. 5 meeting, which immediately adjourned due to lack of attendance. A makeup meeting was then planned for Oct. 29, which Vogel did not attend.

Another senator on the Student Life Committee was often not present, Sen. Cole Kline, GWSB-U. Kline was only present at three of the nine committee meetings held last semester, not attending three and sending a proxy for the other three. However, as this is not against the bylaws, Kline was technically still fulfilling his duties despite hardly being present in the month of October and sending a proxy for both November meetings. All of these committee hearing minutes showing this information are available here.

Vogel’s removal may have been by the books, but it is highly unusual, calling into question why this specific case moved so much farther than other cases like it. Vogel failed to fulfill his duties as outlined by the bylaws, and for that perhaps deserved the punishment that he was given. However, there are still outstanding questions raised throughout this process that deserve to have more attention to be paid to them.

Moving into the SA election happening this spring, it will be interesting to see how Vogel’s removal and the questions raised by it might help to inform those who are running.

Originally published on by Brandon Bish on 1.26.18.

CampusBrandon Bish