STUDENT SENATE TURMOIL

Unscheduled Drama Takes Precedence Over City College Student Issues

Originally Published in the SacCity Express: view original article
March 14, 2012

by Matthew M. Joye | Staff Writer

At its Feb. 29 meeting, the Student Associated Council Student Senate was five minutes away from a third consecutive meeting without taking action and in jeopardy of failing to approve $380 in funds for the March in March student protest—five days away—when five senators got up and walked out.

A few minutes later, the funds were approved by a unanimous vote of the 10 remaining senators.

“Things aren’t getting done, and they need to get done,” said SAC President Kevin Kayhanian, when asked about the SAC malaise two days before the meeting. “The discord has been put aside and we are trying as hard as we can to get things accomplished for the students, things like March in March.”

At the Feb. 29 meeting, Kayhanian tried to steer the Senate to a vote on the issue, only to run into opposition from Senate President Pro Tem Leedel Williams and Treasurer LaDonya Reed, who were concerned with verifying the eligibility of new senators.

“My recommendation would be that we get through the March in March [funding]… we only have five minutes,” Kayhanian suggested.

“We have to test verifications,” Reed responded.

“Yeah we need to test verifications… this is important to handle now,” Williams enjoined.

When SAC Adviser Chris Torres clarified that the Senate had to vacate the conference room in the next five minutes— another group having reserved the room at 1 p.m.—Williams motioned to block consideration for the March in March funding. That motion failed by a 5–7 vote.

With Torres signaling two minutes left, a vote to reopen the discussion had the support of all but Williams. Williams cast his “no” vote, then joined Reed, Vice President EloHim Cofield, and senators Swayzie Cofield and Frankie Jones in walking out of the meeting. No action had yet been taken on the planned March in March protest.

Later asked about his motion and subsequent departure, Williams said he was thinking, “If we continue with business, this is going to take another 15 minutes and we need to be out of this room.”

However, a quick roll call vote of the members who stayed tallied 9 votes for and none against funding the march—the money to be used for T-shirts and a banner for the students who participated in the event to protest cuts in funding for higher education. Kayhanian and Dixon did not vote (the president presides over the meeting but only votes to break a tie), and Senator Tomas Gutierrez voted “present.”

The Feb. 29 meeting contrasted with City College Vice President Michael Poindexter’s coments addressing the board at its Feb. 15 meeting.

“I am looking for you to work together. You have some biases… put them aside and begin to work and to see what we can do for the 23,000 students at Sacramento City College,” Poindexter advised the SAC board.

“I can’t say I like all of my peers, but I have to work with all of my peers,” Poindexter counseled, adding that to get beyond that requires extra effort. “You will see me saying, ‘Let’s meet. Let’s have a conversation.”

Since Poindexter’s appearance, Williams has called for a vote to oust Kayhanian, a petition to recall Kayhanian has circulated but failed to gather the signatures necessary for action, and several senators have abruptly walked out of meetings. Williams, EloHim Cofield and Reed have walked out of two of the past three meetings in protest.

It was the behavior of the departing senators that drew criticism from Secretary of Sustainability Michael Viscuso.

“They said earlier that they have no conflict of interest, but obviously the whole family left,” Michael Viscuso said. “It is very unethical… the way they vote, and it shows just by their performance [walking out of the meeting together].”

Viscuso was referring to the earlier addition of Swayzie Cofield and Frankie Jones to the Senate. VP EloHim Cofield is Swayzie Cofield’s father and is married to Secretary of Legislative Affairs Angela Miller, who is Frankie Jones’ mother.

Swayzie Cofield stated during his appointment, “When I’m on the board, I have no family… I am an individual and I think for myself.”

No agendas or minutes for any meeting since September 2011 are available online or to public request at this time. Newly elected Secretary of Public Relations Brad Morrieal said making the agendas and minutes available to the public is a “work in progress” but said he hoped they would be available soon.

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