Following extensive debate among members of the Student Government Association (SGA), as well as a large crowd, a no confidence resolution against SGA Executive President Pedro Khoury failed by a vote of 10-17.
The resolution, stating reasons why Khoury seems unfit for his position, was introduced at the Oct. 20 meeting by Lee Whitesell, senator of culture and society. These reasons included a lack of enthusiasm and a lack of the necessary experience needed to lead such an important organization, among others.
Chris Kuhn, SGA parliamentarian, made the motion to conduct a secret ballot, a non-debatable motion. Paul Harris, senior political science major and Black Student Union (BSU) trustee, approached the board, turned to the gathered public and asked, “Don’t you see this as a conspiracy?”
The resoution was met with mixed reactions from some who supported it, others who were appalled by it and some who said racism was at the heart of it. Angelique Blann, junior biology major, said she thinks it is not fair to have a secret ballot. She, as well as many of the students, wants to know who voted for the resolution so students will be informed about the issue for the next election.
Support of the resolution goes against the decision the student body made to have Khoury in office as SGA executive president and, in turn, goes against what SGA is supposed to do to represent the students at the College. “The people have spoken,” Dave Dziengowski, senior history major and president of the Inter-Greek Council, said.
Others believe the secret ballot, as well as the amount of abstentions in previous votes, make SGA seem cowardly. “Yes or no, no abstentions,” Roy Johnson, Jr., senior psychology major, said.
Coming as a surprise to many SGA members, the resolution was developed in secret without the rest of SGA, as well as the student public, being informed. As a result, there was much opposition.
“This was not the way to go about this,” Marco Zelaya, senator of culture and society, said at last week’s meeting. According to Zelaya, the resolution was based on the opinions of a few SGA members who have personal issues with Khoury, and does not represent SGA as a whole.
Magda Manetas, SGA advisor and director of Student Life, also was uninformed of the resolution before last week’s meeting. According to Manetas, no one came to her with concerns about the leadership of the organization. Without that step in communication, Manetas said, “it shouldn’t have come to this,” she said.
Khoury himself was unaware. “(You) didn’t give me five minutes so I could tell you my point of view,” he said at the meeting on Oct. 20. He felt that it was difficult to properly carry out his position even early on because of members’ preconceptions of him.
Harris said at last week’s meeting that he was informed by SGA Executive Vice President Brian Mulvihill that the no confidence resolution was being discussed as early as Sept. 1.
“How can you govern if this has been planned since day one?” Harris asked. He, as well as many others, believes Khoury was not given the chance to prove or improve himself.
Khoury said he was also misrepresented in the resolution. “I’ve read through some of the resolution. To say I don’t accept criticism … I think that’s improper wording,” he said.
Many students, senators, and others present at last week’s meeting agree with the misrepresentation. “(Khoury) has more leadership than anyone I know right now,” Jocelyn Charlon, Union Latina president, said of her working with Khoury through Union Latina.
Wanda Anderson, who has worked with many student leaders as advisor to SGA, said that Khoury does not lack anything as a leader – he simply has a different style than most.
Zelaya said he “has faith in the president,” and Jon Cherng, senator at large, said he believes Khoury has a lot of potential in his position.
Some felt race was an issue in the development of the resolution. Although Khoury himself was unsure of whether or not this was a factor, others are convinced it was. “The arrogance of the resolution shows that (race) is an issue,” Johnson said.
Matthew Civiletti, SGA vice president of administration and finance, disagrees. “This is not an issue of race,” he said. “This is an issue of politics.”
Despite the request of several students and SGA members, few spoke in support of or further explained the reasons behind the resolution. At the Oct. 20 meeting, Joseph Mulford, senator of business, said that “the bill wasn’t created just to spite the person; the (reasons) were based on fact.”
According to Gabriel Alonso, sophomore class president, the discussion surrounding the resolution is hindering SGA’s main purpose – to govern and make a difference. “What’s the point?” he said. If the resolution was passed, Khoury wouldn’t have to follow it anyway.
Chris Tuohy, senior class secretary, agreed. According to Tuohy, the time and effort put into making and discussing the resolution could be better served on many other, more important things.
Following the vote, an emotional Khoury declined to comment. “Everybody spoke,” he said.