SA senators debate at-large process

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

Some senators and former Students’ Association members are questioning whether the hiring process for at-large representatives was discriminatory this year.

Others say the process worked to make SA more representative of the student body.

During this year’s at-large selection process, the candidate assessment rubric included this representation statement:

“Priority will be given to candidates who are: * From colleges not filled in the general election* Minorities or International Students* Women.”

Candidates were to be given 0 or 5 points, depending on whether they fit those categories.

SA President Brett Monson said after the general SA election, senators noticed that the body was not representative of the school’s overall makeup. For example, no senators represented the colleges of Nursing or Education and Human Sciences.

Monson said the Board of Directors &- which includes a senator from each college and is chaired by the SA vice president &- agreed to include the representation statement on the rubric to help SA accurately reflect the student body.

“We as a Students’ Association are here to serve students in the best way possible,” Monson said. “That’s why getting all their voices is so key because we want everyone in the school heard. Students are our boss.”

Some senators and former SA members are concerned by the statement, though, saying it violates the organization’s discrimination policy and will set a negative precedent.

“I object to any type of discrimination great or small to anyone,” said Tim Goldammer, SA at-large senator.

The discrimination policy in SA’s by-laws states, “The Corporation shall not discriminate in any manner against any individual because of age, race, color, creed, religion, gender, ancestry, disability, national origin or sexual preference.”

Michael Kendall, former vice president of SA, said he believes the representation statement was in direct violation of that policy. After doing some research and speaking with lawyers, Kendall said he found that the Supreme Court has ruled against reverse discrimination and preferential treatment in recent years.

“Preferential treatment is no longer acceptable and is discrimination as defined as such,” he said.

Monson said he does not think that the statement violated SA’s by-laws and said that SA members double-checked the phrase with human resources, the three SA advisers and the campus attorney. They also looked at Supreme Court cases, and he said there are cases that back up the use of the statement.

For Monson, the statement does not constitute discrimination, he said.

“By definition, discrimination has to have an adverse effect,” he said.

Kendall disagreed, saying, “People will bring up the definition: discrimination is preferential treatment,” he said. “… It was a violation of the by-law, and fancy wording does not make it acceptable.”

Kendall said he had been looking at introducing an ordinance about the at-large hiring process for a while, but the representation statement was the catalyst for the ordinance he helped co-sponsor at the April 12 meeting.

The SA at-large process is inefficient, Kendall said, because each year’s Board of Directors has to start from scratch. Each year, the directors meet to review the previous year’s documents and then decide how to conduct the at-large process for the current year.

Goldammer introduced Ordinance 10-02-O for co-sponsors Kendall, Erik Hanson, Tony Temple and SA At-Large Senator Mark York. This ordinance attempts to standardize the at-large hiring process.

Some senators were upset that the ordinance was introduced at the April 12 meeting because they thought the issue had been resolved at the Board of Directors meeting earlier that night.Everyone was invited to the Board of Directors meeting, and members worked to find a solution that worked for everyone, Monson said. A task force &- which has members representing both sides of the issue &- was created that night to look at the at-large hiring process, he said.

“Everyone said it sounded like a fair plan,” he said.Then, later that night, the ordinance was introduced, which was a surprise to Monson, he said.

“It was all really frustrating when it happened,” he said. “The Board of Directors had decided something 20 minutes ago, and then all of a sudden, people pretended like it never happened.”

Kendall said he attended the directors’ meeting and asked the body to consider his ordinance. He said the group basically ignored his ordinance and moved on. Kendall said he told those at the meeting that he would have someone introduce the ordinance for him that night.

The former vice president &- who will graduate this spring &- said due to some special rules with ordinances, he wanted to be sure to get it submitted on April 12 so that SA will consider it before the end of the semester. Goldammer agreed that SA needs to discuss the topic this semester.

“We need to take care of it this spring while it’s fresh in students’ minds,” he said.

Others want senators to have more time to review the at-large hiring process. Hassan Ali, senator for the College of General Studies, said he wants to research other universities’ at-large hiring processes before any final decisions are made.

“I’m not saying the current system is perfect … but we have all fall to make those decisions,” he said.

Ordinance 10-02-O will receive its second reading at the April 19 SA meeting. The task force is also supposed to present its findings that night. If students want to comment on the subject prior to this meeting, Monson said they should put a comment in the SA box at Information Exchange.