Administrators said Thursday SALP adviser Natalee Webb did not cross any lines with e-mails instructing current and future ASPSU members to resign their positions due to poor academic performance, but students are questioning Webb’s process and motives.
Webb e-mailed future senators Wednesday morning instructing them to resign by Friday. A subsequent message that afternoon extended the deadline to April 7.
Students and Webb have different interpretations of the academic requirements of student positions.
Douglas Samuels, vice-provost of student affairs, said the e-mails directing students to resign a position were "probably inappropriate."
Senator-elect Justin Myers agreed.
"Why is SALP regulating ASPSU? We have a constitution," he said. "There’s no procedure for determining these things, so SALP has taken it upon itself."
Myers was one of at least six students who received the e-mail asking for their resignations.
The ASPSU constitution states that "all students elected or appointed, standing as candidates for office, or serving in ASPSU governance, programs or committees shall be required to be students in good standing, as defined by the University, and to enroll in and complete at least six credits hours each quarter during this term of office, except during summer term. In addition, students holding offices for which they receive compensation must comply with University policies governing student employees."
Good academic standing is defined by the university as a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.
Senators Adas Lis and Amy Connolly were asked to resign their current positions. Lis resigned his senate position yesterday. He will serve on the Student Fee Committee beginning July 1. Connolly’s cumulative GPA is acceptable, but she did not complete six credits. She has an incomplete to make up.
Incoming senator Kento Azegami does not meet the minimum GPA requirement and is appealing grades with his professors. Both senator-elect Billy Taylor and Myers meet the cumulative GPA requirement, raising questions as to the validity of Webb’s instruction to resign.
According to SALP Director Tonantzin Oceguera, incoming senators must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0. She said it is unclear whether Myers and Taylor are required to complete six credits while not serving in office.
"That’s a good question for the Judicial Board," Oceguera said. "It’s up to them." In previous years, she added, the board had suggested upholding the six-credit requirement for those who are not currently serving a term of office.
The senators in question have criticized SALP’s involvement in the issue.
"It’s supposed to be a student process, but no students are involved with what’s going on," Lis said.
Samuels said checking in with students about their academic progress is a normal procedure, but that advisers should strive to have an open conversation about helping students.
"The preference would have been to talk to the students and see what’s going on in their academic life," Samuels said. "I think Natalee’s intentions were not ill-willed. I think the method of communication was a problem."
Dan Fortmiller, interim dean of students, said that in addition to the constitution, other guidelines may cover ASPSU members.
"What I’m hearing is there may be policies in addition," he said.
Samuels and Fortmiller said since senators take office in the last week of Spring Term, any incoming ASPSU members who are not in good academic standing would be in violation of the constitution until finals end June 11.
According to Samuels, that 10-day span means Webb correctly informed students they do not meet requirements to hold office.
"Technically, she has the ability to do that," Samuels said.
"The judicial board has a special little form called the seat vacancy form," Myers said. "That’s the official way seats are vacated. There’s no other way."
During the school year, empty senate seats are filled by appointment rather than election.
Myers said Webb’s strategy of alerting the Elections Committee could imply the committee has authority to appoint replacement representatives from candidates from the recent election.
Lis agrees. "No one in a current ASPSU committee should be able to say who’s on senate," he said. "When Nixon resigned, they didn’t say, ‘Oh, we better call up McGovern!’"
Webb chose not to comment on this story, saying that she had not been contacted for comment when the Vanguard broke the story yesterday evening. Webb had previously asked not to be contacted by the Vanguard at home.
|At OSU, U of O
Oregon State University requires student government candidates and representatives to maintain a term GPA of 2.0 and be enrolled in at least six credits.Legal Advocate for Students Patricia Lacy noted that while members have lost positions due to the grade requirements, student government, Associated Students of Oregon State University, is very careful to spare candidates’ feelings."We check grades before [candidacy] is ever public knowledge," Lacy said. "We don’t want anyone to have to be embarrassed."
University of Oregon does not review student government members’ grades; students must only be enrolled in eight credits. According to Elections Committee Coordinator Kelly Cheeseman, the student government advisor does not usually check enrollment status, since stipend positions are automatically checked by the accounting department. "To be a member you just have to be a fee-paying student," Cheeseman said.