Student Government President Chyna Brodie temporarily suspended from position
Brodie faces suspension, other sanctions for violations of Ethical and Judicial Standards
Student Government President Chyna Brodie faces a number of sanctions, including suspension from her position, after the American University Student Government Department of Human Resources found her in violation of its Ethical and Judicial Standards.
Brodie is suspended until the next Undergraduate Senate meeting on April 24. The Committee on Rules and Privileges will then decide if she is to be reinstated or expelled from the position for the rest of the term.
A report was started by the Department of Human Resources after a complaint filed by Speaker Ashley Bastin, which was obtained by The Eagle. The Department of Human Resources, which is currently operated by the Judicial Board since the Department is vacant, proceeded with investigating the complaint.
In Bastin’s complaint, she alleged Brodie was not behaving professionally while conducting student government business and engaging in harassment. Bastin says the inclusive and conducive community described in the standards was not fostered after Brodie allegedly advised senators not to work with each other, publicly criticized people’s character and texted Bastin regarding how to vote on bills.
“I believe that, repeatedly, this clause has been violated both towards myself and towards others, with specific reference to the final line, where behavior has been conducted that is not conducive to a good or productive work environment,” Bastin said in the report.
As a result of the complaint, interviews were conducted over a two-week period with Bastin, Brodie and their witnesses. After the interviews, the Department of Human Resources found Brodie in violation of the articles involving language, harassment and self-advocacy.
The Department of Human Resources found Brodie in violation of using abusive language after Bastin and Founders Director Jeremy Ward alleged that Brodie threatened to publically call Bastin racist for implementing a seating chart in the Undergraduate Senate.
Bastin wanted to implement a seating chart in the senate to help with voice votes and overall noise levels. After Brodie allegedly expressed her discontent with the seating chart, Bastin said she would reconsider the assigned seats but was “pretty set” on the matter.
“I created the seating charts for the sole purposes of collaboration and decorum,” Bastin said in an interview. Despite the aftermath that followed, Bastin says that she is “proud of what [she] did with the seating chart, as it fostered a better senate.”
However, Brodie said in an interview that “imposing a seating chart after one meeting is extreme.”
“It did feel discriminatory. To me, especially, because it was not a pattern and because it was just one meeting. It just felt very dismissive,” Brodie said in an interview, referencing that the Undergraduate Senate had more Black senators than in recent years.
The Department of Human Resources found threats of racist accusations in violation of the language section of the Ethical and Judicial Standards, according to the report.
“The president was threatening to call the speaker racist publicly, which is a pretty big deal and that’s not something that should just be thrown around lightly,” Acting Associate Member of Human Resources, Jake Kirshen, said in an interview. “And we felt that constituted intimidation, by threatening to call someone racist, which was a pretty big claim.”
Kirshen noted other allegations that Brodie and other members of the undergraduate senate threatened members with “colorist and racist comments.” But since the witnesses of this specific report didn’t have direct knowledge or experience with those instances, they were not considered in the report.
“We made sure [The Center for Student Involvement] was aware of these things, and that we could not include them in our report,” Kirshen said.
The report also found Brodie in violation of SG’s harassment clause. The standards say harassment includes “tormenting that creates an unwelcome or unsafe work environment” through intimidation and/or hostile behavior both in-person and online.
The report says multiple witnesses alleged that Brodie discouraged members of SG from working with Senator At-Large Ryan Hale.
In the report, senators were “specifically told by President Brodie not to support legislation, work, collaborate, or be around [Hale].”
In her testimony for the report, Bastin said it is hard to get the student government to work together when Brodie allegedly tells senators not to work with one another.
“I think the report speaks for itself. It has illuminated to the public and others within AUSG the kind of toxicity that has been happening in the organization,” Hale said in a statement to The Eagle.
Brodie denied these allegations in her testimony for the report.
“The impact may not necessarily have been the best with how people have received my communication but my intent was to never harm anyone or to make anyone feel harassed,” Brodie said.
Additionally under the harassment violations, Bastin and Hale alleged that Secretary Maanasi
Natarajan was pressured by Brodie to give a speech saying that $100 from her empty cabinet stipend be given to Brodie’s presidential stipend. In the report, the Department of Human resources says Natarajan confirmed Bastin and Hale’s allegations that she felt intimidated.
Brodie did not get a raise in her stipend this year. Hale said the raises given were equitable, and with the presidential stipend already being the largest, it was not changed.
“I did not think that I was being intimidating with my asking that question because that was one of the few places where I wouldn't have been taking that money from somewhere else or someone else,” Brodie said an interview, referring to the fact that the $100 was from an empty cabinet, instead of a department that was active.
Lastly, under the harassment violations in the report, multiple witness testimonies alleged that Brodie “threatened senators to vote in certain ways, including the Speaker, otherwise, they would face consequences and would not receive future support of their peers.”
The last violation was under the Self Advocacy article in the Ethical and Judicial Standards, which says that SG members should not prioritize their own interests through their actions in SG.
According to Hale, Brodie allegedly told Natarajan to remove Instagram repostings on the Judicial Board’s decision on the order of contempt in regards to the yearbook posting her campaign video.
“I essentially just asked her ‘why are we doing this,’ because this is the first time I’ve seen a SG Instagram reposting a judicial board post… then that got ‘I'm coercing her to remove it,’ which I never did,” Brodie said in an interview.
With the subsequent violations, the Department of Human Resources issued sanctions against Brodie. She must issue an apology to SG members, which must address the harassment of Hale and Bastin, soliciting money from Natajaran’s cabinet and pressuring Natajaran to remove the Instagram repostings of the Judicial Board decision.
Bastin noted how this year was SG’s first time having in-person meetings since the pandemic and said it was “a shame” it had to turn out this way.
Bastin said she considered not filing a complaint, and had no intentions of any sort of sanctions against Brodie when filing the report, she said she “just wanted people to know about this.”
The apology must be released by April 23 so SG has time to read the apology before the potential suspension appeal.
Brodie will be suspended until the undergraduate senate meeting on April 24. There, the undergraduate senate will go through an appeal process to either reinstate her or expel her from the position.
The complainant and accused may appeal the ruling from the Department of Human Resources, but according to Kirshen, that has not since happened. Any appeal would go through CSI.
“There was a lot of potential to make a lot of positive changes, but personal drama got in the way of all of the good that could’ve happened,” Bastin said in an interview.
SG Secretary Manasi Natajaran did not respond to a request for comment from The Eagle in time for publication.