By: Ali Feldhausen
Monday evening on the 4th floor of the International Affairs Building, the SIPASA executive board began dismissal proceedings for the current SIPASA president.
The motion required a three-fourths vote from the executive board to pass. Anonymously, ten members voted for dismissal and seven against (59% for dismissal and 41% against). Thus, the president maintained her position as head of SIPASA.
The process behind these proceedings began approximately two weeks prior, after a board member sent a letter to the executive team. In this message, the member called into question the president’s leadership style and the insensitive comments made during the budget committee meetings. A full outline of the budget committee meeting complaints were listed by a separate entity in the article “In Defense of Diversity: An Open Letter to SIPASA.”
In sending this letter, the team member invoked the use of Section 4.5 within SIPASA’s constitution, which outlines steps towards dismissal. The section reads:
Any SIPASA Officer can initiate dismissal proceedings against any other SIPASA Officer for failing to uphold the mandate, principles, and/or integrity of this Constitution. The initiating SIPASA Officer can in the first instance unilaterally initiate a case for dismissal with the SIPASA General Board or request the Executive Board to initiate proceedings to bring a dismissal case to the General Board. Any SIPASA Officer subjected to dismissal proceedings shall be given reasonable notice as well as an opportunity for defense, and shall be granted due process under the highest voting standard, as further described in Section 7.4 hereof.
SIPASA held a closed meeting to address issues concerning the budget negotiations on Monday February 24th. The board did not make quorum and the meeting was postponed.
On March 5th, many of the members of the SIPA community were first made aware of the SIPASA happenings through a personal comment on Facebook from one of the current Communications Chair. Made in reference to “Breaking the Loop”, the comment read:
As a current member of SIPASA, I've grappled with some of the questions raised in the final two paragraphs. Speaking personally, while I believe growth is part of everyone's journey - it doesn't always happen at the right time.
I firmly believe that as students of a policy school, we deserve more - and need to demand more from our leaders - they must be the standard we hold ourselves to, and the reflection of our collective values. This question has been raised to SIPASA as a motion, and an answer should come soon.
During the proceedings on Monday March 11th, both the president of SIPASA and the accusing board member were given fifteen minutes to state their cases. After these statements, board members were given approximately fifteen to twenty minutes for questions, followed by five minute closing statements from the president and the board member. The president was then asked to leave the room, so that the board could take the final vote.
From what can be gathered from conversations with board members, the dismissal trial and the votes for or against the current president were not just about one thing. Those who supported the president appeared to have done so for a number of reasons, whether that be the belief in second chances or personal relationships.
Likewise, those voting against stressed an insistence on adherence to institutional processes and the president’s lack of public sector leadership experience. This is all in addition to a failure to understand the importance of identity politics and the ways in which this failure may affect the overall legitimacy of the board as the representative body of SIPA.
In response to the dismissal trial, one member commented, “I think it will be interesting to see the direction the board goes in now after the results of the vote have been out. It is concerning to find that half of the board is pro her dismissal, for what seems to be a variety of reasons, and it invites the discussion of whether or not it would be a wise decision for [the president] to resign.”
Nevertheless, since the vote has taken place, many board members have also emphasized the importance of moving forward and working together. Stressing this point, when asked for comment, the president declined to speak until a full General Board statement could be made in the SIPASA Cable, expected to be released on Friday March 15.
Correction: This article previously stated that all SIPASA Board Members were made aware of this article prior to printing in addition to a number of Board Members being asked explicitly for comment. The fact that all board members were aware was based on the assumption that the General Board had access to the email email@example.com. This is, however, not the case.