SA president remains suspended after three failed motions to reinstate
Treasurer motions three times to lift suspension, each fails, rules committee to plan who will fulfill president role
Student Association President Yousouf Amolegbe has waited for a follow-up decision on his now five-plus-week suspension, as the SA Board of Directors continues to vote to keep it in place.
The BOD met Thursday as SA Treasurer Kendra Harris motioned to reopen the discussion of Amolgebe’s suspension. The BOD meeting then included a 30-minute discussion period to debate Amolegbe’s suspension as Harris suggested the BOD either lift the suspension or impeach Amolegbe, and said the suspension is “doing more harm than good.” Roughly 50 students attended the meeting in Capen 567, as most students who spoke in support of Amolegbe, who was suspended for alleged conflict-of-interest violations. Harris motioned to lift Amolegbe’s suspension three times but all failed. The BOD presented Amolegbe with three options to lift his suspension: Amolegbe can create a petition with 10% of UB’s student signatures, there could be another meeting where a board member could motion to lift the suspension, or they can call a meeting of the members, in which roughly 2,200 members of SA organizations would have to meet to discuss and vote on the suspension, according to SA lawyer Josh Korman.
Amolegbe called the meeting “frustrating” and said he feels changes “aren’t being made.” He said this is something he and SA don’t want to be dealing with.
“I just can’t see an end,” Amolegbe said. “It’s like we’re all just hanging in there waiting to find out what we’re going to do.”
Harris said the same members kept voting to keep Amolegebe suspended even after she presented several points in favor of his reinstatement, and she says they wouldn’t give reasons why. She called the meeting “extremely disheartening.”
Eric Weinman, SA director and board committee chair, said that the board has discussed Amolegbe’s suspension for roughly 24 hours worth of meeting-time and that he and the other board members are “just kind of exhausted.”
“The only reason we’re revisiting this is because people want to,” Weinman said. “People say there’s no definitive outcome, but there was a suspension, and there was the motion to lift the suspension and that failed. People have already expressed their opinion several times and I think that’s why most people didn’t talk tonight.”
Daniel Deslippe, a BOD member, asked the RAGO committee to come up with an “action plan” or a “recommendation” about how the president’s role should be fulfilled to lessen any difficulties within SA.
“I will call a meeting of the members if this is not met by the next board meeting because to sit here and do nothing is ridiculous,” Deslippe said. “If I’m going to do some ridiculous logistic thing just to seek a resolution then we can take care of this issue when I do, but to just sit here silently and do nothing is not the right thing to do.”
Harris said having no SA president prevents SA and its clubs from hiring new staff, advocating for “the needs of students” and has made it “extremely hard” for her to carry the workload of acting president and treasurer.
“As an individual, I feel as though I’m spread thin and carrying out the responsibilities of two roles,” Harris said. “I’m doing not only the duties of a treasurer, but also taking on presidential duties as well. The absence of Yousouf is felt, the office is extremely dead. [We] literally have one photographer that’s going to every event. These are students too, they have school work. They’re overworking themselves, they’re doing more than they’re supposed to do.”
Harris said multiple staff members have been violating their probations and not fulfilling their roles because there is no presidential oversight.
“It’s not fair that they’re essentially exploiting student money and they’re not going to be held to a standard where they need to fulfill their role to even receive that compensation,” Harris said.
Vida Annan, a senior health and services major and spectator at the meeting, said that while it may be true Amolegbe has “made mistakes,” she feels that it’s not enough to justify an indefinite suspension and that the board’s refusal to take action is an “abuse of power.”
“If the board really cares about the student body, you will either reinstate him or move on with the impeachment process,” Annan said. “Right now, it looks like a personal vendetta against Yousouf to the public eye. It looks like they feel like they’re correct and they do not want to hear what the student body has to say.”
Satang Trawally, a senior political science major and SA elections and credentials chair, believes the RAGO committee is constantly voting against reinstatement to make Amolegbe eventually “feel tired and resign.” She said they are going to keep voting “no” until the end of the semester.
“If you’re uncomfortable with your decision and uncomfortable with your decision to suspend him, why not go through with an impeachment? The question [of why the board won’t reinstate Amolegbe] was asked multiple times, and they have not been able to answer that,” Trawally said.
Omran AlBarazanchi, SA International Council coordinator and a BOD member, called the meeting “unproductive” and said it shows how “dysfunctional” and “faulty” the SA’s bylaws are.
“I’ve never seen an organization that has a suspended president [and] has its business halted essentially,” AlBarazanchi said. “The problem is we have people on the board that are like robots, that go and basically don’t question anything that they do, as long as it’s ‘in the book.’ We can change the book and some people are absolutely closed-minded in that sense.”
AlBarazanchi said this is roughly the fourth meeting where they haven’t come up with a resolution for Amolegbe’s suspension. He doesn’t believe a meeting of the members will happen and called it “logistically impossible,” saying he believes the RAGO committee will continue to say “no” to proposals for Amolegbe’s reinstatement.
“I’m saying either way, if the president needs to be suspended, there needs to be a path forward to remove him from office a viable way, or the other way around –– he’s unsuspended,” AlBarazanchi said. “There need to be viable options, and there are none.
Harman Gill, senior business administration major and a spectator at the meeting, said if one were to look through RAGO’s report, it would be “clear” Amolegbe “deserves” the suspension.
“It’s not a great precedent if someone's suspended, we just unsuspend them or reinstate them just because it's inconvenient for everyone else. They were suspended for a cause, for violating SA bylaws,” Gill said.
RAGO committee members Weinman, and Janiece Rosado, and other BOD members voting against the reinstatement did not change their position and didn’t answer student questions during the public period.
“There were several policies that were broken [so] that it didn’t merit someone holding the office,” Weinman said. “Why is the suspension being lifted for something that was done and was wrong?”
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*Correction: Nicole Comisar is not a RAGO committee member