Citing loss of focus on his studies due to his deteriorating health and frustration over his rebuked attempts to perform his duties, Robel Tedros resigned from his position as Student Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs on Sept. 21.
Over the course of two interviews and multiple conversations with Tedros, he voiced frustration with the election process and his position on the Executive Board.
According to Tedros, he faced opposition from both Student President Charles Karter and Student Activities Coordinator Shannon Williams while trying to organize student elections, of which, according to Student Senate by-law Article VI 5(b), Tedros’ position is charged with doing.
“…it seemed that Charles Karter, which I fully respect him, he’s a wonderful man and a very progressive individual, but I saw that he was doing parts of my job,” Tedros said.
One of the points of contention between Tedros, Karter and Williams was the release of student candidate applications to CCN.
“I really don’t mind if we give [CCN] the applications, it’s about transparency,” said Tedros to Karter during one conversation. “But [Karter] strongly suggested that he didn’t want to do that because he felt that, from my understanding, he felt that the City College News was repeatedly demonstrating a negative behavior to the Student Senate,” Tedros said.
Tedros later said he doesn’t think Karter feels that CCN will write negative articles but that there was the potential for private student information to be spread.
CCN attempted to obtain student candidate applications from both Williams and the Student Executive Board before Sept. 19, which was a date set by Williams, Karter and other members of the Student Senate, not including Tedros, to release the candidate names.
The reason why the candidate applications were not released was changed over time. Initially, Williams and the Executive Board said candidate names would not be released because they claimed other students would not run for positions that already had candidates.
After the names were released by the Student Senate, Jazer Maurico, an MCTC student, threw his name into the hat to run for the Student Vice President position against Dallas Rising, the interim Student VP.
Later, there was a concern of releasing private student information like student IDs and Star IDs, which are asked for on one of the pages of the candidate applications.
Eventually the MCTC administration settled on the documents being controlled by the Student Senate and therefore not subject to open data laws.
CCN received those documents from Tedros on Sept. 20 and from Karter on Sept. 21, minus the page listing private student information.
However, Tedros claims he was given the full candidate applications, including private student information from Williams, who was holding onto the documents, on Sept. 11.
Williams, via email, responded to Tedros’ claim saying, “The last page of the declaration of candidacy packet includes confidential student information. All students, including the Senate Executive Board, are not authorized to access or hold that confidential information,” and stated affirmatively that Tedros was not given the last page of the candidate applications that contained private student data.
Tedros said that he had control of the candidate applications – including the last page with the private student data – from Sept. 11 until Sept. 19, when Director of Student Affairs Tara Martinez asked for the last page of the applications from Tedros.
Martinez maintains that she only took pages from more recent applications in order to check the eligibility of the new candidates and does not know if Tedros was given the pages with private student data by Williams.
Tedros said multiple requests for the candidate applications, along with being kept out of the loop and not receiving proper training, led to him being frustrated with exactly what his role was on the Executive Board.
Tedros also questioned Williams role in the student elections saying, “Am I the Election Commissioner or is Shannon [Williams]?”
The original candidate applications listed Williams as the point of contact for the elections.
A statement, sent by Williams via email in response Tedros’ claims, said in part “…I provided the Director of Legislative Affairs and President with the information, resources, documents and historical perspective related to the nomination, campaign and election periods,” as per her responsibilities as the faculty adviser to the Student Senate.
“I definitely believe it was Shannon [Williams] and Charles Karter that were organizing this election,” Tedros said. “And when I asked questions, like how to organize and stuff like that, they gave me little information …”
“I felt frustrated. I felt confused. I felt disappointed because I said to myself, If I’m truly valued then I should be able to do the fullest extent of work within my particular position,” Tedros said.
Karter acknowledged Tedros’ concerns and said via email, “I did my best to answer questions. Robel was always saying I was doing a good job, so it’s hard to figure out what questions I failed at in particular. I can say that it’s somewhat fair that I could have communicated better, or that I was the one who was making the final decisions, thus running the elections. I did my best to explain the issues, and intentions of the elections, guide him, but there’s always more to cover. He tried his best, and so did I, considering everything else we’re juggling. It is what it is.”
According to Karter, Tedros’ position will be open for student applicants – who will be interviewed and selected by the Executive Board. As the Student President, Karter has the option to appoint someone to the vacant position but chose not to make the decision alone.
“…everyone on the board has really good insights, they’re all really engaged, thoughtful, and take our work very seriously. It would be stupid, if not irresponsible, to not collaborate with them on this decision,” Karter said.