Committee confirms Student Association president suspended for potential conflict-of-interest violations
Details and evidence ‘classified’ until at least next week, roughly 40 students attended Tuesday meeting for information about suspension
The Student Association Board of Directors (BOD) will keep documents which led to SA President Yousouf Amolegbe’s suspension private until at least next Tuesday, 11 days after the vote to suspend him.
But students say they want answers now.
Roughly 40 students attended the board’s Rules, Administration and Government Oversight Committee (RAGO) meeting, where RAGO confirmed its investigation –– which prompted the BOD to suspend Amolegbe of his presidential duties –– concerned potential conflict-of-interest violations regarding SA events. RAGO meetings are not typically attended by members of the public, according to RAGO Chairman Eric Weinman. RAGO, a six-person committee composed of BOD members, said its investigation documents will remain classified until at least next Tuesday, when the BOD will vote on whether or not to declassify the information. UB community members can attend Tuesday’s meeting and may be given the opportunity to speak on Amolegbe’s suspension.
The BOD had the opportunity to vote to publicize the investigation and the underlying information last Friday –– during the meeting when members voted to suspend Amolegbe –– if a board member motioned to do so and the motion passed, according to Weinman. Weinman said the reason no one made the motion was likely due to “oversight.”
Weinman said RAGO could not declassify the investigation documents on Tuesday night because the deliberations regarding Amolegbe’s suspension and RAGO’s inquiry took place in executive sessions. Weinman said there are no SA bylaws preventing BOD members from sharing information pertaining to executive sessions, but that it is standard practice of boards and deliberative bodies to keep information confidential until the board decides to make it public information.
“Matters considered in executive session are to be held confidential among members of the board until the board later determines,” Weinman said. “All the previous matters regarding the inquiry were considered in executive session, [and] as such, have to remain confidential and considered only in executive session until otherwise determined.”
On Tuesday, RAGO passed a resolution recommending the BOD suspend Amolegbe from presidential duties, although the board already suspended Amolegbe last Friday via motion. Weinman said the resolution, although inconsequential, “clarifies the reasons for the suspension and provides a better method for the board to consider [suspension], opposed to simply a motion.”
RAGO’s suspension recommendation will not affect whether or not Amolegbe is suspended. The BOD’s motion to suspend Amolegbe was sufficient to suspend his presidential duties and, even if the new resolution to suspend him fails, Amolegbe will remain suspended.
Weinman said the only way to reverse Amolegbe’s suspension is if two-thirds of the BOD votes to lift the suspension.
RAGO also passed a resolution to recommend a certain format for the BOD’s meeting next Tuesday. If passed, Amolegbe would have at least an hour to defend himself, the public would have 40 minutes to comment and RAGO will have up to 30 minutes to present information. The BOD may amend the resolutions before voting on them.
Amolegbe said he plans to defend himself during his hour at the BOD meeting.
“I’m going to be challenging the process that this suspension took and why this act is unjust and unfair,” Amolegbe said. “I encourage students to come out to the next board of directors meeting to come see for themselves why this action is totally uncalled for.”
Florence Ayeni, president of UB’s Black Student Union, attended part of RAGO’s Tuesday meeting and said she thinks most students attended to learn which policies Amolegbe allegedly violated. She said she was disappointed because information won’t be available until next Tuesday at the earliest.
“Waiting ‘til [Tuesday] is kind of dragging it out in my opinion,” Ayeni said. “Providing a day to meet folks about it is a good thing. Having it 11 days after [suspending Amolegbe] is such a drag out and a low thing to do, in my opinion, because matters need to be dealt with immediately. This suspension is nothing light.”
Hayden Gise, chairperson for the BOD, said the BOD’s meeting will not take place until next Tuesday because the bylaws require the BOD chair to provide at least five days notice to the BOD and the public when scheduling meetings.
The BOD will likely pass the resolution to declassify information, according to Gise, because the BOD wants to inform the student body about its decisions.
Ayeni said she expects a large student turnout at the BOD meeting next Tuesday.
“I just think [the student body] needs more information,” Ayeni said. “People are confused, people don’t know. ... We want more information; we want to know why. We want to know the policy [that Amolegbe allegedly broke], we want to know the extent of how it was broken.”
Julian Roberts-Grmela is a senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @GrmelaJulian.