SA Senate ousts appointed director of transit


Speaker of the Senate Jeremy Peters speaks at the Student Association Senate meeting Sunday night at the Sky Room in Holmes Student Center.

By Kyla Gardner and Jacqueline Evans

DeKALB | The Student Association Senate voted to deny the confirmation of Luke Walter, junior finance major, as director of mass transit 6-20 Sunday night.

After Jonathan Kite’s resignation on Nov. 18, SA President Erik Calmeyer appointed Josh Venaas as SA chief of Staff, leaving a vacancy in his former position as director of mass transit. Calmeyer appointed Walter in his stead shortly after and Walter has been acting in the position since.

The senate debated at length about whether to confirm Walter as the director of mass transit.

Senator Brian Troutman pointed out during debate and discussion that three senators – himself, senator Mike Theodore and senator Austin Quick – questioned the credentials of Walter and by what process he had been appointed. Troutman said he and Quick, as members of the mass transit board, were knowledgeable about what qualifications the director needed.

Calmeyer said Walter was the only one interviewed for the position but that he considered all members of the mass transit board and other qualified candidates. Walter is not a member of the mass transit board.

Quick said he wanted the appointment process to be more transparent.

“This is a very important position,” Quick said, “I want to make sure we’re getting the right person.”

Senator Latonia Reynolds questioned whether members of the mass transit board were acting in their own self-interest by questioning the current director appointment and asked which were interested in being appointed to the position.

Troutman said he was interested in the position; Quick said he was not.

Calmeyer spoke on behalf of Walter when Walter was asked about his qualifications. Calmeyer said Walter had a good work ethic and was knowledgeable about finance.

“I’m kind of shocked about [the vote],” Calmeyer said. “It’s unfortunate the senate did not feel my appointment was appropriate…but it was a great example of the check and balance system.”

Calmeyer said the SA will continue with the appointment process. Walter declined to comment.

The senate voted to confirm Calmeyer’s executive appointment of Venaas.

“I feel great and I’m excited to start now that I’ve been formally approved,” Venaas said.

In addition to appointment debate, the Senate also voted to approve supplemental funding for two student organizations.

The Burma Interest Group (BIG) was approved $2,500 for supplemental funding for the upcoming programs Ethnotopia, an annual multicultural festival, and speakers for a lecture series.

“We’re very excited about the funding, this will allow us to represent and serve the NIU campus,” said BIG President Shahin Aftabizadeh. “We’re the only university in the world with a Center for Burma Studies and these programs are very important to the longevity of the program.”

Supporting Opportunities for Latinos (SOL) was also approved $2,000 in supplemental funding to attend the 2010 United States Hispanic Leadership Institute on Feb. 14.

“I’m glad were able to receive funding,” said SOL President Alexander Chavez. “We’ve attended [the conference] before and everyone gave positive feedback on it.”

The senate also confirmed Robert Lausch as Sergeant-at-Arms.

“I’m pleased with the senate decision and I look forward to continue work for the SA and uphold their bylaws and constitution,” Lausch said.

The senators also voted Ernest Smith and Gina Gregolunas to fill two of the four vacant seats in the senate.

“It feels very good to be appointed and I’m excited to get in the senate and make a difference on campus,” Smith said.

Gregolunas also expressed enthusaism for her new role,

“I’m just happy to be a part of the senate this semester and to make a lot of changes across campus.”