A few weeks after President Arvind Gupta unexpectedly resigned, our elected student representatives released a statement regarding their stance on the matter. The statement received both praise and criticism.
“I’ve received three emails in response to the statement -- one disagreeing with the statement, one agreeing with the statement and one just with some clarifying questions,” said AMS President Aaron Bailey.
Some of the criticism came from the notion that the AMS should have taken a stronger stance on the controversies. However, the AMS stands by the belief that it was premature to call for dramatic change such as the resignation of the Board of Governors chair, John Montalbano.
“The intent of the statement was to… [put] events into perspective and really look to the information that we [and students] had about the situation rather than going off of different claims,” said AMS VP Academic and University Affairs Jenna Omassi.
While the statement ultimately did not call for Montalbano to resign, he has temporarily stepped down from his position. The investigation that prompted other groups to call for his resignation has yet to be completed.
One point dealt directly with the discussion around board transparency. The statement reads that the AMS “will continue to work towards improved transparency and representation of the student voice” in terms of the board.
“I’m in a lot of conversations naturally with the people who are designing the search committee and what that’s going to look like,” said Bailey when asked whether this point was a symbolic gesture or reflective of active processes. “[Something] I’ve been advocating for is this can't just be what it was last time where it’s behind closed doors… we need to turn this into a public search.”
However, according to a recent Senate report, the procedures in which our 13th president was selected will remain largely the same.
Still, Bailey says that the AMS is trying to remind the student representatives on the board that “every time you see something that really could be open, transparent or welcome the public, but there’s a conversation going on about whether that’s the case -- go on the side of students.”
“You can talk about the AMS and transparency, the GSS and transparency… that comes up every year -- I know, I was Oversight chair last year -- and so I think that’s something everyone continually strives for and definitely now is a time to sit down and review and relax,” said Veronica Knott, student representative on the Board of Governors.
Although Omassi notes that it would be problematic to suggest that everything should be open when the AMS itself has closed sessions, she also said that “in specific discussions and processes, we are pushing... a really good example is international tuition.”
The statement also recommended that media groups and other members of the campus community avoid speaking on behalf of the student body as a whole. When asked about this, Bailey noted that this mainly regarded media outlets making claims such as “students thought” X.
“Obviously we aren’t the sole voice for students. I would never tell a student, ‘Oh, you can't have you opinion heard. You can't speak to the media,” said Bailey. “But when people make sweeping generalizations for the student body, that’s kind of irksome because that eliminates voices.”