Senate accuses Cross of misappropriating 3.5K, debates censuring three SA position holders

Senate+accuses+Cross+of+misappropriating+3.5K%2C+debates+censuring+three+SA+position+holders

Kierra Frazier

DeKALB — Student Association President Khiree Cross is accused of misappropriating $3,500.33 in SA funds gathered through student fees. The funds were allocated to his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, for a regional conference, according to meeting documents.

Cross is the vice president of Alpha Phi Alpha, according to his LinkedIn profile. The fraternity is a dues-charging student organization. These organizations can’t receive funding because they already receive money from their members, according to the executive allocation excel sheet provided in the Senate meeting.

Cross, who was not in attendance during Sunday’s meeting, was among three members the Senate debated for censuring. A censure is a formal reprimand issued by an authoritative body, according to the U.S. Senate’s website.

The 6-hour meeting was forced to adjourn when a Holmes Student Center employee required the Senate to leave the Sky Room by 11 p.m.

Cross was up for censure for the supposed misappropriation as well as for neglecting his duty to fill the position of Director of Information Technology, not submitting a weekly staff report of any kind and not notifying or writing a report to the Speaker of the Senate in the fall semester, according to Sunday’s SA agenda.

The Senate ultimately decided not to move forward with censuring Cross.

Citrick Davis, SA Chief of Staff, was the only member the Senate moved forward with censuring. He was not in attendance during Sunday’s meeting. Davis could not be reached for comment in time for publication.

Davis was censured due to not submitting a weekly staff report of any kind and not reporting to the Senate since Dec. 2, 2018, according to the Sunday SA agenda.

The Senate also debated the censure of its speaker, Tristan Martin, ultimately deciding not to censure him. Martin recused himself from the discussion of all three agenda items concerning censures.

Martin hasn’t consistently required the Office of the Speaker and Senate Committees to submit accurate records on time, hasn’t updated the Constitution and Bylaws within the time period set and has not adequately fulfilled the Senate’s duty to hold paid members of the office accountable to complete the duties prescribed in the constitution, according to Sunday’s SA agenda.

Deputy Speaker Cassandra Kamp said the censures have been in discussion for a while and wanted to make sure it was outlined for a formal statement.

Historian Michael Kane said this is not the first time the Senate has had a concern about bylaws and certain habits being in line with policy.

“In early February, it was communicated to [Cross], that [allocating funding to a dues-charging student organization] was not in the bylaws,” Kane said. “About five weeks ago, during [his] last Executive Report, he stated that he did not intend to change the course of this and that we should basically drop it.”

Bethany Gary, advisor to the legislative branch of SA, said members of the Senate have been looking into grounds for censuring since late September. Cross said the talk of censuring should have ended in January based on SA bylaws.

Cross said it is unnecessary and that granting funds to Alpha Phi Alpha is not misappropriation.

“I believe in constructive criticism, but some things are just not true,” Cross said. “We are interpreting laws. They read bylaws one way, I read them another way.”

Cross also said he believes there is bias in the censure. He said Alpha Phi Alpha has received funding through SA in the past, and it’s only an issue now because he is president. In fall 2017, it was found that a sum of less than $3000 was allocated to the fraternity, according to the executive allocation excel sheet.

Sergeant-at-Arms Ashley Burkhardt is a on the rules and procedures committee of the Senate and said the committee has previously talked to Davis about its concerns and issues.

“A censure is our way of formally telling the Senate and public that these issues are here, and they haven’t been fixed up until now,” Burkhardt said. “We want these issues fixed and recognize that they are an issue and that they are done being dealt with.”

Burkhardt said her strong feelings on Martin’s censure come from the fact that some committees only sent in two sets of minutes the entire semester.

“I brought it to [Martin’s] attention a couple of times, and to my understanding, his response was, ‘I didn’t realize it was this bad,’” Burkhardt said. “I think [his] censure is justified.”

Senators had questions about why Martin specifically was being censured for not consistently requiring the Office of the Speaker and Senate committees to submit on time.

Chairperson Ryan Carmody said it’s a committee chairperson’s job to report meeting minutes.He said the Senate’s justification for Martin’s censure is that Martin didn’t take action when it was needed.

“The committee’s chair [who was] not supporting minutes, the clerk who was not doing their job and the assistant who was allegedly not doing their job, needed to be held accountable by the person who oversees them, and they were not,” Carmody said.

Martin said he doesn’t think much of the censures because he’s doing his job and has fixed every one of the claims cited in the censure.

“I’m going to do what I’ve been doing for the past eight months because I feel like I’ve been doing a really good job,” Martin said.