Senate tables motion to remove VP

Student+Senate+President+Robert+Ellis+and+student+senate+looks+on.+Photo+by+Sydney+Foster%2FCity+College+News

Student Senate President Robert Ellis and student senate looks on. Photo by Sydney Foster/City College News

The student Senate tabled a motion to remove Student Senate Vice President Corinne Salone from office on Sept. 30. Student Senate President Robert Ellis made a motion early in the meeting to remove Salone from office. Aside from ratifying the bylaws of the Art Club, no other business was addressed. The Ad-hoc Committee for Policy Reform will review the Senate policies related to removal. Darren Zabinski, chair of that committee, said that he made the motion to table because he felt the process for removal was overly vague. The current bylaws state only that two-thirds majority of the Senate is required to vote a person off of the executive board. However, the policies did not lay out the procedures by which such a vote would occur.

Zabinski said he will be releasing a new draft policy by the end of the week. He said that the new removal policy was approved unanimously by all three members of the ad-hoc committee. “We have three very different views on the ad-hoc committee…to agree on something very rarely happens,” Zabinski said. “The reason I stood up [to make the motion to table] is a belief the general assembly doesn’t understand the removal process and I wanted to protect the general assembly,” said Zabinski. He listed three concerns he’s heard from students: that the removal was attempted to be passed in haste, the discussion of the removal was run by a member of the executive board, specifically Secretary of Policy Dylan Kelly, and the evidence presented was insufficient to justify a removal. Given that the motion on the floor was made by the president, the gavel was ceded to the secretary of policy. Kelly gave three minutes to Ellis to make his case, and three minutes to Salone for a defense. Even though he went over time by 15 seconds, Kelly cut Ellis off mid-speech. Kelly has taken a voluntary  leave of absence of two weeks from the Senate executive board and was unavailable yesterday afternoon to comment on the reason for limiting speeches to three minutes.

On Sept. 30, after the Senate meeting Kelly stated that he and the cabinet stood behind the president’s decision to bring a motion to remove Salone. He referred all other questions to the president. All cabinet members except for Salone and Secretary of Finance Nick Toffle agreed with the statement in an unwavering manner.

Student Senate VP Corinne Salone speaks to the student senate. Photos by Sydney Foster/ City College News
Student Senate VP Corinne Salone speaks to the student senate. Photos by Sydney Foster/ City College News

Ellis said in an interview that Salone was disrespectful to her peers both at MCTC and at the Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA) government level. In addition, he listed examples such as that Salone said that “diversity is not really important to me” in a MSCSA brainstorming session where she was representing Ellis. Ellis said he was approached by the delegations of multiple metro-area schools concerned about this statement because Ellis was leading the charge for diversity to be considered by the MSCSA. Salone countered that some of the issues she raised are particularly important for those who are of diverse backgrounds, specifically debt-free college or homelessness or financial aid holds.

Salone said that in a meeting of the executive board on Monday Sept. 28 she was asked for her resignation. She stated she asked “if I could be given an opportunity to improve.” She said she was told “‘it’s too late.’” Ellis said that he offered Salone her seat as Senator, and claimed that Salone then said “‘If I can’t be vice president then I won’t do any work for the Senate.’”

In an interview, Salone said that there had been two emails from Ellis and one conversation regarding her performance. She had found all of them shaming and didn’t address them further. In an email dated Aug 27 provided to City College News by Salone, Ellis wrote to Salone “If you are going to remain VP you have to make some immediate and meaningful changes to how you interact with those around you. As we spoke of before, more than any other Cabinet member, in addition to yourself you represent my administration and authority in everything you do. While I am more than satisfied with your administrative skills I am deeply concerned in your ability to lead and adhere to my commitments to service leadership and inclusivity.”

How you handled yourself in the Assembly yesterday was completely counter-productive to getting the items we need passed actually passed in a timely manner. Your whole presentation, much like at the Cabinet retreat, was done so in manner that said to the assembly ‘this is the final idea with no room for changes’ mostly a my way or the highway approach. showed absolutely no deference to the President in your fervent defense of your plan. If you cannot respect me Corinne you will absolutely respect this office.”

You have shown me very clearly Corinne that your position as VP is more about you than it is about the students of this college.” In the most recent meeting accusations flew in a variety of directions, primarily against Salone, but also against Ellis. The club representative from the Student Design Collective, LaPorsha Allen, repeatedly questioned Toffle regarding his performance on the Star Club Initiative. Toffle and Salone worked together to craft the Star Club Initiative, which measures club performance in great detail. Both Salone and Ellis said they were disappointed in that line of questioning. “I was really disappointed with those accusations, against Nick, he’s a wonderful worker…[they] were uncalled for,” Salone said. Speaking of his support for Toffle, Ellis said: “The secretary of finance has done far, far more to work towards transparency than his predecessor.” In addition, according to Ellis, Toffle has built a closer relationship with the VP of Finance for the college than the  previous director of finance for the Senate.

“The whole student Senate meeting was wasted on this issue plus another [future] student Senate meeting on this issue,” said Michele Jimenez, former director of health and wellness
in the Senate cabinet and current club representative from UNITE. Tim Ireland student representative from the Student’s Veterans Association (SVA) said, “they don’t bring me down here unless there is a problem with the exec board. We can replace the entire exec board and replace it with people who can get along. I’ve got a chestful of medals from four years of combat. I know how to do leadership.” Ireland stated that the SVA is generally in agreement, and said “there is a general lack of communication between Senate exec board and other student groups.” He went on to say that the exec board either needed to find a way to get along or “they need to suck it up.”

Ireland later qualified this, saying that “if there is some evidence that the vice president is culpable on something that disgraces the office I will personally lead the charge to remove her.”