Clemson University’s student vice president faces an impeachment trial on Monday – a proceeding that will take place outside of the public eye.
Clemson’s student senate will meet in a closed executive session to consider whether to remove Jaren Stewart from his student government post, the Anderson Independent Mail reports.
The decision to close the hearing is controversial. Students won’t know what is said during the trial, only the senate’s verdict. Clemson’s student newspaper, the Tiger, urged senators to open the proceedings in an editorial on Friday, arguing a closed hearing is in violation of the state’s open meetings law.
“It is only right the student body attends and witnesses the trial that holds their vice president’s status in the balance,” the paper’s editors wrote.
It’s also unclear what evidence might be presented against Stewart in the secret proceeding. Sen. Miller Hoffman, who introduced the impeachment motion against Stewart, will argue for removal. Hoffman referenced a Clemson University incident report involving Stewart when called for impeachment on Oct. 23, alleging misconduct by Stewart when he was a resident assistant in a student dorm.
But that document is confidential under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and may not be admissible in the proceeding. Instead, a photo of the document posted online Oct. 3 has become the basis of Hoffman's move to impeach Stewart.
“They may have been leaked but you still can't produce those in senate, dean of students Chris Miller told the Independent Mail. “He would not necessarily bring FERPA-protected documents unless he has permission from Jaren, the respondent or someone else who had filed any kind of a complaint.”
Stewart has said he believes the charges are racially motivated, provoked by a September protest in which Stewart and other students sat through the Pledge of Allegiance at a student government meeting in solidarity with NFL players and others protesting police brutality.