The University of Maryland GSG assembly voted on Friday to accept the findings of the Governance Committee's impeachment investigation into the group's former president, Stephanie Cork.
The Graduate Student Government assembly voted 29-5 to impeach Cork, who was absent due to a family obligation out of the state, she wrote in a message on Friday. Impeachment immediately removes Cork as president and prohibits her from holding any GSG office "for no less than one complete legislative session," according to GSG bylaws.
The Governance Committee wrote in its report, which was released Thursday, that Cork had violated several GSG bylaws and its approved budget. The committee recommended to indict Cork on charges of misrepresentation of duty and misuse of funds after concluding its impeachment investigation.
"President Cork was working under a significant and fundamental misunderstanding or ignorance of the GSG budget, Bylaws and Constitution," the report stated. "This misunderstanding or ignorance resulted in an expansion of the Presidential powers […] and diminished the oversight assigned to the Assembly, other Executives, and the Governance Committee."
Cork did not respond to a request for comment.
The GSG also voted Friday to elect a new president, Michael Goodman, a second-year doctoral student in the Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy program who has served as GSG vice president of student affairs since July. He ran unopposed in the special election.
The GSG voted to launch the investigation during its Nov. 3 meeting after Financial Affairs Vice President Devin Scott noticed about $36,000 in overspending from the fiscal 2017 budget, which Cork had contributed to by spending funds not approved by the assembly on items including extending the director of operations' contract. The committee found the director of operations was offered a contract in April that paid $1,218 biweekly and required the GSG to pay Social Security and unemployment benefits. The payment terms offered in the contract violated GSG bylaws, the document read.
While the fiscal 2017 budget allocated $5,600 for external programming, records show about $11,000 funded events in fall 2016 and $12,700 in spring 2017, for a total of nearly $24,000, which "far exceeds" the approved budget, the report stated. Executives also agreed to sponsor a Disability Summit held in April for $1,700, reports show. But after the event, the total charges amounted to about $5,200.
Other violations included changing the nature and funding for various positions, receiving donations for events not run by GSG and creating a new category in the budget that about $14,000 was spent on, all without assembly approval, according to the report.
In a Nov. 17 statement, Cork announced she would terminate her graduate assistantship and resign from the position of GSG president on Nov. 20. Although she informed the assembly of her intentions to resign on Nov. 20, her resignation was not formally accepted by an assembly vote, said GSG Chief of Staff Caden Fabbi.
According to GSG bylaws, executives who resign from their elected positions must notify the assembly and assist with the transition of their position to a new officer.
Vice President of Legislative Affairs Adria Schwarber has served as interim president since Cork's Nov. 20 voluntary departure. Now that Goodman has been elected, she will resume her previous position.
"We are ready to go back to be the advocates of the graduate students to work on improving the lives of graduate students, and I'm glad this issue is behind us," said mechanical engineering representative and Governance Committee Chair Roozbeh Bakhshi.