The Constitution is clear in its intention that the Student Assembly (SA) should have been consulted in light of an Executive Vice President (EVP) vacancy, and the contention that the administration has absolute authority misinterprets the Constitution. Half-truths, spin, and loose remarks have been tossed around over the past few days. As a former EVP, Senator, and alum, I find the entire episode, particularly the comments made by now-former UGBC members about its role on campus, to be disheartening and misleading.
The truth is simpler. The mandate for UGBC lies with the undergraduates. Its main body is SA, and ultimate responsibility lies with UGBC’s leadership. These have been fundamental principles agreed upon by generations of UGBC leaders, including the framers of the 2013 Constitution. No matter what, UGBC leaders are called to higher standards of conduct and compelled to accept full responsibility for the totality of their words and actions.
You run for UGBC in order to run towards responsibility, not away from it. The responsibility entrusted to UGBC leaders is to be an advocate to the administration, not a representative of it. The administration, on a factual and functional level, is only involved to the extent that it ensures conduct and operational guidelines are adhered to. That is a fact. At hand is not a question of autonomy, but in being transparent with why we do what we do.
As to the current situation, the President—with the consent of the administration—might have appointed an EVP, but it is up to the judgment of SA as to whether or not the circumstances surrounding the situation warranted the unprecedented step of having not consulted SA beforehand. I can only imagine that such a step would be warranted if UGBC leadership and the administration felt as if UGBC’s operational abilities and reputation would have been severely hampered in light of the actions or statements of those involved in the circumstances.
This episode will certainly test the character of all those involved in UGBC. But, I cannot think of better advocates than President Fiore-Chettiar’s remaining team and the current SA. They and their work should be spared the actions of few. No matter what, my faith in them is unshaken. And, I have confidence in UGBC to learn from this experience, move forward, and rededicate itself to its core values.
Former Executive Vice President of UGBC
An abbreviated version of this letter appeared in print on Nov. 20, 2014.