VSG passes vote of no-confidence against Economic Inclusivity Chair and former presidential candidate Jordan Gould

With over 300 Vanderbilt students in attendance, the March 30 VSG Senate meeting sets a new record for student body attendance, per Speaker Kate Petosa.

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Emery Little

Kirkland Hall during the fall. Photo taken on Oct. 12, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

Zoe Abel, Staff Writer

By means of a secret ballot on March 30, the Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) Senate passed a vote of no-confidence for Economic Inclusivity Chair and former presidential candidate Jordan Gould during their bi-weekly meeting. The current session of VSG, and the terms of all appointed and elected VSG members, finishes on April 14. 

The senate meeting, which lasted for approximately 3.5 hours, hit the 300-person limit on Zoom and was then live streamed on a public Discord server for students who were unable to join the Zoom meeting.

The meeting began with an open forum discussion where Vanderbilt students could raise concerns or comment on issues that they would like addressed by the student government. According to the VSG constitution, the open forum discussion is a common practice for senate assemblies. During the open forum, 28 Vanderbilt students, including Senator Olivia Sinrich, spoke to their peers about Gould’s potential removal, per the senate meeting minutes. Sinrich did not respond to request for comment.

The second part of the meeting saw the confirmation of Bryce Collings as Speaker of the Senate and Sophia Clark as Chief of Staff for the 2021-22 school year. 

The resolution to invoke a vote of no-confidence was presented by Deputy Speaker of the Senate Syed Rahman. The deputy speaker alleged that Gould had not upheld the responsibilities of the office of committee chair. 

“Mr. Gould was provided with a notification of this vote of no confidence, and I provided him with a Zoom link. He has not responded,” Rahman said. 

Gould did not attend the Senate meeting or respond to The Hustler’s request for comment. 

Per Speaker of the Senate Kate Petosa, the passage of the vote of no confidence triggers a judicial court investigation, which provides a report to the senate for voting. 

“Seeing as Senators are the group who requested the investigation, the Court thinks that it’s reasonable to ask the Senators to provide the factual evidence to be considered in the report,” an April 1 message shared with VSG senators from Chief Justice Daniel Baisier reads. 

VSG has set a deadline for senators to submit evidence against Gould by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 4. Per Basier’s message, Gould will have the chance to respond to evidence and allegations by 12:00 p.m. April 9. Basier said he expects the final report to be completed more than 48 hours before the April 14 senate session, and will be posted on Anchorlink.

“We’re just going to collect facts. Since ‘no confidence’ is vague and ultimately a judgement call for the Senate, we’ll just gather facts and evidence to help them decide whether they have ‘no confidence’ in Jordan,” Basier said in a message to The Hustler. “But we will express no opinion on whether he has ‘lost Senators’ confidence’ because, ultimately, what does that really mean? We certainly can’t say for certain.”

The VSG vote of no confidence was held one day after the March 30 publication of Gould’s Medium article titled “When the Social Justice Mob Came for Me.” Gould’s piece discussed the treatment he received from other students throughout the course of the election. Gould dropped out of the VSG presidential race after releasing a video admitting to being present at a North/South week hosted by Sigma Chi.

The article prompted reactions from students on social media and a subsequent response piece from senior Ember Tharpe.

Incoming VSG President Hannah Bruns spoke during the senate meeting. Bruns thanked her campaign for their continued support and promised significant change within student government during her term next year. 

“We will not tolerate discrimination of any form. Whether that be institutional, systemic or on an individual level,” Bruns said. 

Vice President-elect Kayla Prowell told the Senate that she and Bruns are eager to serve every single student on campus. Prowell encouraged fellow senators to uplift and empower the student body and be aware of harmful election rhetoric. 

“I am unbelievably proud of everybody who came out tonight, who had the courage and bravery to speak up,” Prowell said. “This is about setting precedent.”