The University Assembly has decided to remove Mitch McBride ’17 from his position as codes and judicial committee chairman due to his “misconduct” during a protest at Cornell Political Union’s Michael Johns lecture, according to U.A. President Gabriel Kaufman ’18.
“The Executive Board convened immediately and removed Mitch McBride from his chairmanship and membership on the CJC,” Kaufman said in an email sent after the meeting.
The Assembly met Tuesday evening to discuss a motion to have McBride removed. A portion of the meeting was dedicated to hearing testimonies both in support and against this motion. The remainder of the meeting — a private executive session — was devoted to deciding a verdict.
“As an interim measure, we have appointed Jeramy Kruser to fill the vacancy as a voting member of the committee, and we appointed Matt Battaglia, a current graduate/professional student on the CJC to serve as interim chair until the main U.A. convenes again in two weeks when we will discuss the staffing further at our next meeting,” Kaufman said in the email.
Battaglia ’16 previously served as the U.A. chair during the last academic year.
McBride was accused of abusing his authority as Judicial Committee Chairman when warning students that their participation in the protest could result in judicial action by the University.
Community members who were at the protest were given the opportunity to present their testimonies of the events that transpired that day. Afterwards, supporters of McBride were also allowed a chance to recount events as they remembered.
Alison Lapehn ’17, who helped organize the protest, received a notice from Judicial Affairs requesting her presence at a hearing that will discuss whether or not she and other protesters will receive J.A. referrals for their actions during the protest.
“We are not here today to debate the J.A. process,” she said. “We are here because we believe that Mitch abused his position on University Assembly and his position on the Code of Conduct Committee, so I would like to see him removed from all positions.”
However, McBride defended his actions at the protest.
“I was witnessing what I believed to be a violation of the Code of Conduct, the best way to collect evidence was to videotape, so I went outside to film the protesters,” McBride said. “At no point did I say it was a violation of the code of conduct; I said that it was a potential violation of the code of conduct.”
Those who testified in support of McBride said that although protesters claimed that McBride was using his position title to threaten judicial action, the U.A. member instead used his title only when asked directly what group he was representing, according to Austin McLaughlin ’18, who testified in support of McBride.
“Only when Mitch was asked if he was affiliated with the University in any way did he mention his position,” said McLaughlin.
McBride said that he worried prior press coverage could have contributed to the desire for his removal.
“I have severe concerns about the previous Sun stories, any bias that may have existed, and how influential they can be in framing people’s minds,” McBride said.
McBride will continue to serve as an undergraduate representative on the University Assembly.