SGA’s Executive Oversight Committee brought charges of impeachment against Chief Justice Makell Swinney before the senate, to which the body voted no.
These charges came in response to a Facebook post Swinney made after video surfaced of Pi Kappa Alpha and Chi Omega singing Lil Dicky’s “Freaky Friday” and repeating the N-word. In Swinney’s post, he mentioned that President-Elect Mat Wheeler and Vice President-Elect Caddo Lowery are members of these fraternities.
“I hope all of you who attend UALR, work at UALR, are happy because the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect of the Student Government Association, are members of the two organizations that were caught in the video,” Swinney wrote. “This is who you all voted for.”
The Committee claimed that Swinney “acted out in an unprofessional and aggressive matter (sic) to push his own agenda” and that he “caused students to call into question the validity and nature of our elections and caused many to believe that Swinney was using this event to highlight his lost (sic) and not his anger towards the actions in the video.”
Sen. Larry Dicus, who spoke on the Committee’s behalf, said that these actions were in direct violation of the SGA constitution’s preamble as well as the oath which all officers must take before induction into the organization.
Before the senate opened up discussion and moved into voting procedure on the removal, Swinney had the chance to defend himself.
“In your opinion, my actions do not uphold to the oath that I took,” Swinney said. “I did not lie. I didn’t make any false accusations when I posted the video, and I feel like people should know who’s representing their school and what organizations they’re a part of, and that’s all I have to say.”
The Committee’s statement also says that Swinney appeared on multiple news outlets to push his agenda by “implicating that [Wheeler and Lowery] were not apt to lead because of their association with these groups,” but the chief justice disputed this.
“I believe I only spoke with one news outlet, and I refused to speak to the rest out of respect for my fraternity brothers,” Swinney said.
Sen. Paige Topping, Swinney’s running mate in the recent election, also spoke against his impeachment.
“I know a lot of us are upset about the circumstances in which he released the video,” Topping said. “I myself was upset that he involved the elections because I feel like it took away from the issue itself. However, again, he did not violate any code of conduct or any standing rules, so I don’t even think there are grounds to impeach him.”
As impeachment of an officer requires a two-thirds majority in the senate, and only six of the representatives voted in its favor, Swinney will maintain his position as chief justice for the remainder of the semester.
However, the fallout from the video makes it doubtful that Swinney will be on next year’s executive team, as the appointment to these offices is the responsibility of the SGA president.