DeKALB — The SA Senate rejected the appointment of former SA President Khiree Cross as election commissioner during Sunday’s meeting.
The vote was 9 to 8 with 1 abstention. Despite one more senator voting in favor of Cross’ appointment, a constitutional majority of 50% plus one vote wasn’t reached, which is required for confirmation.
The election commissioner administers all SA elections and referenda and is responsible for hiring, supervising and processing payment for all poll workers, according to the SA bylaws.
Cross faced controversy last semester as SA president when he was accused of misappropriating $3,500.33 in SA funds. These funds went toward his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., a dues-charging student organization, according to a March 24 SA Senate agenda item.
The SA bylaws’ finance policy says organizations with restrictive membership are ineligible for funding. Speaker of the Senate Ian Pearson said there was disagreement in the spring between the executive and legislative branches over whether dues-charging organizations were ineligible for funding under this condition.
“Because it was never settled at the Supreme Court level, [and] because the policy wasn’t changed, it came down to the executive branch saying, ‘We think this is what the finance policy means and we’re going to allocate money in this way,’ and the legislative branch saying, … ‘We don’t think that’s in mind of the spirit of the policy,’” he said.
Cross defended his record, saying the Senate shouldn’t allow the controversy to overshadow the positive things he had done as SA president.
“I lost three opportunities because of [the accusation]; a lot of people still question me [about] that to this day,” he said. “But again, I’m still standing here saying to you, ‘I want to be your election commissioner.’”
Reactions were split among senators, with some praising Cross’ experience and solutions and others criticizing his responsibility and professionalism.
Legislative Director Ashley Hines said she can’t support Cross’ confirmation due to what she believes to be the unforgivable nature of his past actions.
“While I do think that people can change, I think they have to give you more than just a verbal indication that they’re going to change,” she said. “And I’m also of the belief that you can mess up to a point where you don't get another chance.”
Senator Carmorroa Siggers, on the other hand, said the Senate should focus more on Cross’ qualifications and trust SA President Naomi Bolden’s judgment in appointing him.
“We shouldn’t be dwelling on the past when it comes to this,” Siggers said. “President Bolden chose him for this position accordingly, so why can’t we just have faith in [her] decision?”
Bolden was granted the opportunity to defend her appointment of Cross after a number of concerns had been raised by senators. She praised Cross for his work ethic and accountability.
“When it comes to hosting events, when it comes to getting people out to these events, wanting people to get involved in the elections is important to him,” Bolden said.
Bolden discussed the Faculty Senate’s proposal to change the university’s undergraduate admissions policy, which she said is currently being overseen by the Baccalaureate Council and will require the approval of the University Council.
Under this policy, applicants would no longer be required to provide SAT or ACT scores; exceptions to this would be students who are homeschooled, whose high schools don’t provide grades or who earned a GED, according to the proposal.
Bolden said the GPA requirement for automatic admission would be raised because of this. For example, applicants are currently required to have at least a 2.5 GPA with a 23 ACT or a 2.75 GPA with a 19 ACT, according to the Undergraduate Admissions website. Under the policy proposed, the minimum GPA requirement would be 3.0.
However, applicants with a high school GPA between 2.5 and 2.99 would have the ability to appeal to the Admissions office, the proposal says.
Bolden said this policy would go into effect in fall 2021, and the proposal will likely be placed on the University Council’s Jan. 29 agenda.
“Because we’ve already had Steering Committee for University Council, the agenda for Dec. 4 has already been set,” she said. “So, if it does come up again in a proposed agenda, it wouldn’t be until Jan. 29. So that would still set us on track for fall 2021.”
The Senate voted unanimously to pass a bill merging the Mass Transit and University Services Oversight committees, an initiative that was discussed at last week’s meeting.
“I know there has been … previous talk regarding that the two committees both do very similar work,” Senator Bradley Beyer, author of the bill, said. “This is … an administrative change to really streamline efficiency.”
The Senate amended Article II, Section I of the SA bylaws to grant more responsibilities to the sergeant-at-arms. These additions include, among other things, maintaining record of senator attendance and meeting monthly with individual chairs alongside the deputy speaker.
The Senate tabled a resolution that would change the name of the Student Association to the Student Government Association until next week, where it will likely be voted on.