This story was written by Jeffrey Riley, Central Florida Future
U. Central Florida'sstudent government association impeachedstudent senator Webster Cook Thursday in a33-2-0 vote after allegations he was involved in an altercation at a Catholic Mass on campus.
The vote signals the start of a two to four-week investigation by the Legislative, Judicial and Rules Committee. After the investigation, the Senate will hold another meeting and vote whether or not to remove Cook from his elected position.
The impeachment willhave no effect on Cook's status as a student wrote Dustin Robinson, service and public relations chairman for SGA, in a release.
"The Student Government Association does not have the ability to expel Webster Cook, this is a power given solely to the Student Conduct Board," Robinson wrote.
Sen. Cook was not present at the meeting where he was impeached.
At the beginning of the meeting, Speaker Brian Peterson gave a report on the matter to the Senate.
"Let me begin by addressing an issue that's recently received a great deal of attention and cast a negative light on our efforts within the Student Government," Peterson said. "The situation involving Senator Cook and the Catholic Campus Ministry is an isolated event and one that has interfered with our true purpose."
Webster Cook, along with a friend, went to a Catholic Campus Ministry Mass on June 29. During the Mass, Cook had an altercation with various members of the organization after he pocketed a Eucharist, which is against Catholic tradition.
Cook ended up leaving the Mass with the Eucharist. He said he was holding it until he got an apology for being grabbed by his elbows and told he had to return it. During his time holding the Eucharist as collateral, Cook said he received threats after the story gained national attention. A week after taking the Eucharist, he returned it without getting an apology.
SGA Official Anthony Furbush submitted the impeachment affidavit last week against Cook. Furbush was present in the audience during the impeachment vote.
On July 16, the Legislative, Judicial and Rules Committee, an internal committee within the legislative branch of SGA, voted in favor of sending the impeachment affidavit to Senate to allow them to vote.
It is unknown at this time when exactly the investigative meetings will be held, but they must be completed within four school weeks. Special meetings could be used in order to speed up the process.
Supporters and opposers of Cook's actions were present in the audience during the meeting.
Sara Wong, a political science major, had a banner around her waist that said "Respect the Jeez-its," mimicking the label of the popular cheese cracker with pictures of tiny Eucharist.
Wong, who is Catholic, said she was happy to see Cook impeached, but also hopes that he has a chance to state his side of the story in front of everyone.
"I'd like to see it as a positive chance for Senator Cook," Wong said.
She said she would continue to go to the meetings until the ordeal came to an end.
Daniel Winstead, a political science major and member of the Campus Freethought Alliance, was also in the audience. Winstead has been offering free advice in understanding the legal aspects of everything that has happened with Cook.
Even though Winstead has been giving Cook legal advice, he said he is not surprised about the way the impeachment vote went, especially with the closeness the situation has to religion.
"I foresaw it going this way," Winstead said. "It appears as if there are outside motivators." ?