SA members question Veloz's work hours
SA president holds emergency staff meeting about 'transparency'
Student Association insiders are questioning if SA President Leslie Veloz has been logging enough hours to merit the $15,000 stipend she receives.
The questions come after the resignation of former SA Vice President Jamersin Redfern’s Feb. 2, citing family issues.
Since the resignation, staff members have been questioning how often Veloz is in her office, how often she misses or arrives late to meetings and her leadership style. Some SA members have spoken to The Spectrum about their concerns, although none wanted their names printed as they fear losing their jobs. The Spectrum spoke with five SA staff members.
One staff member told The Spectrum students should expect more from such a highly-paid officer of a major university.
Veloz’s schedule shows she has 12 scheduled office hours per week, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is available “by appointment only” on Mondays.
“You can’t ignore the fact that she’s supposed to have 17 to 21 hours scheduled and she has 12 hours scheduled,” an SA source said. “She won’t even make the 12. She will miss two or three hours out of the week.”
Some SA members feel Veloz isn’t fulfilling her role and is missing or arriving late.
To compare, SA Treasurer Janet Austin has 19 scheduled office hours per week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:30-5 p.m and noon to 5 p.m.on Thursdays.
Veloz stands by her work and said the number of scheduled office hours do not reflect the amount of work she is doing.
“I work more hours than my scheduled office hours. Therefore, the difference in scheduled office hours does not speak for how much we accomplish,” Veloz said. “In addition to my office hours, I spend a lot of my time in meetings with administrators and sitting with board committees.”
Veloz clocked 19.5 hours in week one, 14 hours in week two, and 28 hours in week three of the spring semester, according to SA timesheets.
The hours in week two were lower when The Spectrum first asked to see the timesheets. Veloz said in an email it was because she forgot to clock in for certain office hours and fixed the error once The Spectrum spotted the low number of hours. At 4 p.m. Monday, hours after The Spectrum began asking about the times, Veloz held a special staff meeting on “transparency.”
She would not let a Spectrum reporter attend, insisting it was a “closed” meeting. She had alerted the SA staff about the meeting via email and roughly 50 people attended.
“The Spectrum is welcome to attend our staff meetings,” Veloz said. “Just for this one specifically I didn't want anyone to be dissuaded from speaking up because they might have thought they'd be quoted.”
The emergency meeting, Veloz said, was to give staff members a chance to make suggestions to the e-board and address SA staff members’ comments about Veloz’s work ethic.
Sources who attended the meeting said Veloz attempted to explain her workload and asked the staff to bring up any complaints or concerns they had. Several staff members did speak up and voiced their concerns with Veloz’s number of hours. By comparison, several members expressed a desire for unity within SA and dismissed reports of internal strife.
A source said staff members were brave to voice their concerns about Veloz. Members said they hope going forward more staff members will feel comfortable approaching her.
Both Veloz and Austin said their responsibilities have increased since Redfern resigned.
Austin has taken over handling club requests for events and writing weekly emails to communicate with clubs, both of which were previously the responsibility of the vice president.
She volunteered to take over those roles because she felt her previous experience interacting with clubs and their budgets were in line with the tasks, Austin said.
When asked about the reports, Austin said she thinks Veloz has done a good job bringing “new initiatives in order to benefit the entire student population.”
“She really puts her heart into everything she does and is willing to listen to new ideas and perspectives,” Austin said.
In the fall semester, Veloz, a senior English and psychology major,took 12 academic credits and was in the office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This semester, she is taking 21 credits, according to Veloz.
Veloz said she warned the e-board and her staff that she would be cutting back on hours because of the increase in her credit load. But, she insists she fulfills what is required of her job.
Veloz and Chief of Staff Gunnar Haberl oversee staff members’ office hours, including her own.
“My office hours have never been a concern,” Veloz said. “The professional staff and the e-board see my hours, and we have conversations with each other.”
Veloz said she is disappointed her staff members haven’t brought their concerns to her directly.
This isn’t the culture she envisioned creating –– as president, one of Veloz’s main priorities has been advocating for better mental health resources for students. She campaigned on a platform of inclusivity, with the ultimate goal of bringing more women and underrepresented minorities into leadership and faculty positions.
“That’s the type of culture I’ve tried to set –– having that kind of open communication with staff and the student body,” Veloz said. “So if some people sincerely felt that there has been an issue with me, I wish those individuals would have taken the initiative.”