Senators debate censures of 5 directors, chief of staff


Mike Theodore explains the allegations against Josh Venaas, chief of staff for the Student Association.

By Jacqueline Evans

DeKALB | The Student Association Senate hotly debated the performance of SA executives Sunday night.

SA Chief of Staff Josh Venaas and directors Deldric Henderson, Alandis Phillips, Arlieta Hall, Alyssa Ford and Elliot Echols were all up for censure by the Senate.

A censure is a formal reprimand issued to an individual by an authoritative body.

The censures were issued by the SA Senate Procedural Review Committee after they held a review for the aforementioned directors, in which only Venaas and Ford were reviewed.

Senators debated at length about the relevance of the censures.

“[The censures] more of a warning shot to directors to do a better job,” said Senator Mike Theodore. “Directors with multiple violations were investigated; our job was to investigate and report back to the Senate, which is what we did.”

Theodore, committee chairman, said the directors were told about the review before spring break and claimed that they were unprepared for the review, which prompted the resolution for censure.

After a roll call vote of 22-10 with two senators abstaining, Venaas, who was not present at the meeting, was formally censured.

Henderson, director of organizational development, came before the Senate in response to his censure in which he claimed that he came fully prepared for the review but was unable to attend due to a room change.

“I did not hear back from the committee after Wednesday, and I have yet to see any senator other than Senator [Austin] Quick to discuss any concerns,” Henderson said.

Henderson then said the atmosphere of the review was “lopsided.”

“As an African-American male, I walked into a review mostly compromised of Caucasian males,” Henderson said.

Quick, speaker of the Senate,  suggested that Henderson not make claims of racism and questioned how the committee could be racist.

“The committee was formed by Senate members themselves; not by a single person,” Quick said. “How can that be racist?”

Henderson said he’s been doing his job and the work required of him.

“I believe I’ve been doing my job quite well, and I’ve submitted way more than the required weekly reports,” Henderson said. “I’ve been communicating with the chief of staff and it is up to him to provide my weekly reports in my absence.”

Senator Darren Howard questioned the motives of the censures for all the directors.

“Why are we holding people accountable for other peoples’ actions?” Howard asked. “I think we should wait until next week to censure after the committee is able to review his reports.”

The Senate then motioned to postpone Henderson’s censure until the committee reviewed his reports.

Phillips, director of Student Life, came before the Senate; the committee said his censure was due to the fact that he did not provide sufficient weekly reports.

“I had prior engagements with Chief of Staff Venaas to report to the Senate,” Phillips said. “I can and will present proof of my reports to the review committee, and I would like to reschedule with them to do so.”

Phillips questioned the purpose of conducting the review so late in the semester, to which Theodore responded that it was necessary after the committee saw that they had no proof of what directors were doing.

“There was obviously a breakdown somewhere and you as directors have a responsibility to make sure your reports are presented,” Quick said.

Phillips expressed his sentiments about the review.

“I felt that the review was done with a lack of class,” Phillips said.

The Senate then motioned to postpone the censures of directors Phillips, Hall and Echols until after their reports were reviewed by the committee.

Ford was called before the Senate. Theodore claimed that Ford did not maintain sufficient records and only turned in five weekly staff reports.

Ford expressed her opinion of Wednesday’s review.

“I did not make copies of my reports, but I brought them and [the committee] did not review them,” Ford said. “[The committee] questioned one program I hosted and did not inquire about the full extent of my position.”

Senator Brian Troutman responded to Ford, commenting that it was her duty to make sure there were copies for the committee to review.

Howard said the committee was irresponsible not to take the appropriate time to read Ford’s reports.

After several outbursts from Howard, Sergeant-at-Arms Robert Lausch asked Howard to leave the meeting.

The Senate then voted to censure Ford on the terms that she did not submit the required amount of weekly reports.

Senator Nick Wians made a note to officially request that all weekly reports be submitted for review for the next Senate meeting.

Quick commented on the necessity of the review and censures.

“There are certain guidelines of what’s expected by members of the SA, and if people are put into paid positions then they need to adhere to the guidelines,” Quick said.

After the meeting, the committee commented on Henderson’s claims of racism and said they felt it was a personal attack on their character.

Claims of racism were used to divert attention from what the directors were really there for, Lausch said. He said there needs to be an open dialogue about racism.

Quick noted that SA President Erik Calmeyer was present after the meeting in order to help alleviate the situation.

After the meeting, Henderson clarified his claim of racism.

“It wasn’t a question of racism,” Henderson said. “I was curious to know how the committee was composed especially when all the directors to be censured were African-American. After the meeting I was informed of how the committee was formed, and I was somewhat pleased, so I apologized.”