“An unhealthy and toxic work environment”

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NICOLE LIU | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

ASWSU Senator Connor Simmons, claims that during Pro Tempore Martian’s time at ASWSU, he has received numerous personal attacks and emphasizes that her role should be an institutional steward for the senators, as part of a Judicial Board ruling, during the ASWSU meeting on Wednesday eveninG, at the CUB.

The motion to entertain the removal of ASWSU Pro Tempore Hannah Martian from office passed during the senate meeting on Wednesday after two senators filed complaints against her. 

ASWSU Senator Jelani Christopher called for a vote of no confidence to remove Martian from her position. Christopher cited many reasons for why he felt Martian was unfit to be the leader of the senate.

Christopher made his announcement with the intention that the vote would be held at the next meeting. However, Martian announced she did not want to wait a week for the results and excused herself from the room as the votes were cast. 

Members of the senate were visibly upset after the motion passed 8-5 to entertain Martian’s impeachment. 

After the vote, it was decided the motion would be tabled for next week’s meeting due to a lack of attendance. 


Tuesday hearing

On Tuesday, the ASWSU Judicial Board held a hearing for two complaints which were filed against Martian by senators Connor Simmons and Oluwanifemi Shola-Dare. The complaints regarded Martian’s handling of former senator Monica Chavez’s resignation and Christopher’s appointment as Finance Committee chair.

Chavez texted Martian before the senate meeting on Jan. 22. Martian and Simmons both said Chavez told Martian she would miss the meeting and was considering resignation.

“‘I plan on submitting my resignation letter soon but would like to talk about it first,’” Martian said, reading the text Chavez sent her.

Later that day, Martian announced to the senate that Chavez had resigned. 

During the hearing, Martian said she believed Chavez was intending to resign and would submit her formal letter of resignation after their meeting. 

“Former senator Chavez did not intend for her resignation to be the outcome of this text”

Sen. Connor Simmons

“I sincerely, 100 percent, completely honestly thought that this meant Monica Chavez was resigning,” Martian said. “If I had even an inkling that she was unsure or still considering stepping down, I would not have announced that she was resigning that evening at senate.”

Simmons said the text was unofficial and Chavez learned she had resigned after Christopher joined a finance committee group chat and assumed the duties of chair.

“Former senator Chavez did not intend for her resignation to be the outcome of this text,” he said. 

Chavez submitted her official letter of resignation in an email the next day, Simmons said.

“[Chavez was] fed up with the toxic work environment, fostered by the Pro Tempore’s actions, and the uncertainty whether or not it would get worse should she challenge this unilateral action by the Pro Tempore,” he said. 

Simmons said Martian violated a bylaw by moving Christopher to the Finance Committee without the approval of Vice President Jhordin Prescott.

Simmons said Martian broke another bylaw which states committee chairs must be elected by the committee. He said Christopher could not have been approved as a member of the Finance Committee because he was never officially approved by Prescott. However, Christopher was voted in by the committee. 

Before the incident, Christopher was a member of the ASWSU Internal Committee.

Comparing this incident to Berkompas’ violation of the bylaws which involved executive staff hearings, Simmons said Martian’s actions were more severe and therefore should receive greater consequences than Berkompas. 

Former senator Monica Chavez, left, and Senate Pro Tempore, Hannah Martian

“I intend to show that the one aforementioned incident is merely indicative of the underlying problem the senate currently faces — an unhealthy and toxic work environment perpetuated by a leader who not only tolerates it, but fosters it,” Simmons said. 

Martian said she offered Dawson Dalfrey, vice chair of the Finance Committee, the position but he declined it. 

“I did not appoint [Christopher] chair, I made him a member of Finance,” she said.

Martian said over the last three senate years she served on, the vice president has not had a say over or approves the process of who goes to ASWSU committees.

Simmons said the bylaws explicitly say the vice president must approve the Pro Tempore committee assignments.

Seven senators have left the senate this year, he said. 

Martian said five of those were due to academic reasons. The two that left due to workplace issues included Chavez and former senator Mikaela McCoy. 

Martian said Chavez and McCoy contributed to the toxic work environment. 

“I have been at the heart of character attacks all year”

Senate Pro Tempore Hannah Martian

Senator Diana Sotelo read a letter on behalf of Samantha Cruz, deputy of legislative affairs, stating Chavez had made racist comments toward Cruz by questioning her authenticity as a woman of color.

Cruz’s letter also stated Chavez’s formal resignation letter was a slanderous attack against Martian. Chavez’s letter blamed Martian for the toxic work environment.

“I have been at the heart of character attacks all year,” Martian said. “I have been called annoying, dramatic, petty, a b-tch and been accused of having personal vendettas against particular members of ASWSU.”

She said these attacks are lazy, misogynistic and an attempt to undercut the work she’s done all year. 

“I’m a damn good senator and I’m a damn good Pro Tempore,” she said. “Above all that, I’m a good person … I am not the egotistical, scheming, manipulative, underhanded person that senator Simmons and senator Shola-Dare are trying to make me out to be.”


Wednesday meeting

Christopher said Martian does not believe the bylaws apply to her. He cited Martian’s complaint of ASWSU President Quinton Berkompas’ bylaw violations. 

“This type of hypocrisy, among other things, is one reason why I’m bringing up the idea of a vote of no-confidence,” he said.

Senators came to the defense of Martian. Freshman delegate Jacob Martinez said Martian is someone who can represent ASWSU and she acts as a role model for both students and the senate.

“Pro Tempore Martian reminds us of what a true ASWSU senator is,” Martinez said. 

Sotelo also defended Martian. She said the entire senate contributes to the toxic work environment. Sotelo said it is not the job of the senate to point fingers at one another, their job is to communicate and work together. 

Simmons echoed Christopher’s concerns. He said Martian was confrontational at the judicial board hearing and attacked the characters of certain members of ASWSU and Chavez. Simmons said the senators should consider if Martian is the best leader to represent the interests of the ASWSU Senate. 

“There is clear intimidation and retaliation against individuals that disagree or speak out against the actions or ideals of the Pro Tempore,” he said. “This fear of retaliation is real.” 

Simmons said he did not anticipate Martian pushing for the vote immediately.  He said he wanted the vote to be held next week after the judiciary presented their ruling on the hearing. 


Confirmations

In other news, Chelsea Thumberg, WSU junior majoring in global politics, was confirmed as an all-campus senator. 

Thumberg said she plans to focus on preventing sexual assault on campus as well as offering more resources to victims.

“I do not want this position for its title,” Thumberg said. “But for its power to create a difference.”

Current freshmen delegates Jacob Martinez and Katie Carstens also delivered statements for the all-campus senator position, but they were not confirmed.

The senate also confirmed Gerardo Zaragoza, WSU junior majoring in marketing, as deputy director of communications. The confirmation comes after the senate denied a second communications director at the previous meeting.