Tag Archive | "Aaron Morrison"

President Morrison resigns

More than one high-ranking official from the Student Government Association stepped down during the SGA assembly meeting Dec. 5, a meeting with a full agenda already.

Three senators were nominated and confirmed to serve on the Student Electoral Commission.

The senate then voted to approve the Student Ministries Committee legislation that was introduced last week, creating a committee of senators to work under Kiersten Beagan (so), SGA’s director of ministries.

Aaron Sharp (jr), vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, introduced the proposed constitutional amendment that would establish an impeachment procedure for SGA. The senate will be able to vote on the amendment as early as the first assembly meeting in January.

Dani Wolowec (sr), an SGA senator from the Lodges, said during her presentation at the Nov. 28 assembly meeting that Renee Weisenbeck (jr), vice president of academic affairs, had not been properly confirmed after she filled the vacancy created by Courtney Bidwell’s (jr) departure from the SGA cabinet earlier this semester. The SGA senate unanimously confirmed Weisenbeck Dec. 5.

Weisenbeck’s confirmation came just moments before Nathan DeMasie (jr) tendered his resignation from his post as vice president of financial affairs.

“It was brought up last week about the member being agnostic, and that was me, as you all know now,” said DeMasie to the SGA assembly. “After discussing with the cabinet about what’s the best action to take after that, I’ve decided to self-resign.”

“And there’s no hard feelings between me or Dani, so let’s clear that up,” added DeMasie. “We’re still friends. Don’t worry about that.”

Kristina Vander Meer (sr) said she is particularly disappointed with the situation surrounding DeMasie’s resignation. Vander Meer was on SGA last year and said she raised concerns with the new constitution about the clause that requires SGA members to exhibit “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” as Indiana Wesleyan University does not require its students to be Christians.

According to Vander Meer, Jonathan Freije (alumnus ‘11), SGA’s former executive vice president and chief of staff, told her last year that the constitutional requirement for a statement of personal faith wouldn’t be enforced.

After DeMasie’s brief presentation, Aaron Morrison (sr) read his written letter of resignation.

“Although my goal of greater student involvement in the university is laudable,” said Morrison, “the means whereby I sought to achieve this goal were flawed. I would’ve been better served to bring others, particularly the senate and my cabinet, along with me in the process.”

Luke Nelsen (sr), SGA’s senate chair, prompted those gathered to applaud for Morrison’s motivation and commitment to represent students. The assembly then gave Morrison a standing ovation.

Jenna Childress (jr), SGA’s former executive vice president, immediately assumed the presidency, leaving two open cabinet positions: executive vice president and vice president of financial affairs.

“There are no winners in this current situation,” said Childress, IWU’s new student body president, during the assembly meeting.

“We, all of us – Aaron, the cabinet, the assembly and the student body – are wounded from this situation,” Childress said.

“The cabinet and I are confident that, with work, with hard work, SGA can flourish this coming semester,” continued Childress. “We would like to do this by getting back to the basics of SGA. We believe that dynamic student life can happen from basic, effective representation and relationships. So let us collectively take this Christmas break as a time of healing and regrouping for what is ahead.”

Childress said she did not yet know who would fill the two vacancies in her cabinet.

At the conclusion of every assembly meeting, those present engage in an “open floor” discussion, during which any topic is fair game. John Heldreth (so), an SGA senator, asked the cabinet if members had been reconfirmed by the senate at the beginning of the school year, as the constitution requires. Elizabeth Potter (so), SGA’s secretary, confirmed that the cabinet had, in fact, not been reconfirmed properly.

Nelsen responded by suggesting that the senate vote on the matter immediately. Nelsen handed his gavel to Sharp, who officiated a formal vote, quickly legitimizing SGA’s six remaining cabinet members, in addition to Childress.

The reconfirmation issue was merely a technical oversight, according to Nelsen, who explained Dec. 6 that the cabinet had been confirmed at the end of the 2010-2011 school year and took an oath at the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic year.

Nelsen and Stephen Weeks (so), SGA’s vice president of public relations, also responded later that week to what they said were misinterpretations of recent SGA-related events.

“[Morrison’s] wording led some to believe that the administrators recommended he resign,” said Weeks. “But that is not the case.”

According to Nelsen, Morrison apologized to his cabinet members Wednesday, Nov. 30, for not including them in more of his decisions and offered to resign if his cabinet recommended he do so. Bill Millard and Michael Moffitt, SGA’s faculty advisers, made sure that Morrison knew the decision to step down or not was Morrison’s alone, according to Nelsen.

Weeks said, based on an informal “straw vote,” there were multiple cabinet members who said they would resign if Morrison did not, but Weeks declined to identify which members said this. Morrison was present for this entire process, according to Weeks, Nelsen and Childress.

Weeks said: “[Morrison] acted autocratically a lot, without the cabinet’s input or judgment. He would do things sort of spur-of-the moment that we didn’t always – the cabinet did not always support or even know about that he was doing, which is a big problem when you’re supposed to be acting as a team, but the team doesn’t know what the leader is doing.”

Nelsen agreed, saying Morrison valued the constitution as a good set of guidelines, but Nelsen said, “When trying to address how things should be done constitutionally, at least some members of the cabinet got the sense that Aaron, generally, did not view the constitution as an actual governing document.”

The concerns raised by cabinet members reflect Wolowec’s constitutional concerns, which she raised during the Nov. 28 SGA meeting.

“I made it clear to Aaron and to those that I spoke with from the beginning that I never wanted him to resign,” said Wolowec, “and I did not want him impeached. I simply wanted change, and I wanted people to abide by the constitution.”

Nelsen said governing documents like the constitution provide “tradition, precedent and consistency” to entities like SGA.

“Without SGA, there is no institutionalized, primary effective interface between the student body, the administration, the board of trustees and the faculty,” said Nelsen. “SGA, its purpose is to create that cross-entity discussion so that, instead of 5,000-plus people trying to talk about things that everyone cares about, we can have people streamlining those conversations, targeting the important ones and being able to work together on things that, hopefully then, can be resolved optimally.”

Both Weeks and Nelsen expressed confidence in President Childress’ leadership ability and look forward to continuing to represent the IWU student body. Childress’ first full assembly meeting as student body president will take place Jan. 16, 2012.

Posted in Front Page, News, On CampusComments (0)

Student body president resigns (transcript)

Aaron Morrison (sr) announced his resignation as student body president Dec. 5, 2011. He read the following statement during the Student Government Association assembly meeting:

“To all Indiana Wesleyan University students, faculty, administration and all other members of this community: I love this IWU community dearly. You have all added to my life in some way. These additions I will carry with me long after I’ve departed from these grounds. I look back already, and I see that I’m a different man than I was four years ago.

“In recent days, some have voiced criticism of my leadership as president of the Student Government Association. These persons, including members of the senate and the cabinet, believe my actions have not been appropriate and not been in the best interests of the university. I want you all to know that I have taken these actions with the best intentions in mind, to see this student body become passionate about changing the world around them, particularly by starting first with the world nearest to you – your family, your friends and those whom you live with on this campus. This change cannot occur, unless one is committed to seeing that change happen, even at times when it requires great personal cost. In light of mounting criticism, I have had to take a careful look at my leadership for the past eight months.

“Although my goal of greater student involvement in the university is laudable, the means whereby I sought to achieve this goal were flawed. I would’ve been better served to bring others, particularly the senate and my cabinet along with me in the process. When interpreting the role of president and the requirements of the SGA constitution, I might have sought counsel from others who view matters differently than what I was doing. As laudable as my accomplishments may be, I have lost the confidence of those who share student governance with me, due to my strategies for obtaining these objectives.

“Therefore, on the recommendation of my cabinet and, subsequently, the SGA advisers, I am submitting my resignation as the student body president, effective immediately.

“I shall relinquish my responsibilities to my executive vice president, per the constitution. The position is being left in good hands. Jenna is quite capable. Please give her your confidence, as I have.

“Tonight, I end my time of formal service to this institution after three-and-a-half years serving first as a senator, as a resident assistant and, finally, as student body president. I have enjoyed these responsibilities immensely. Leadership is the crucible by which our strengths and our weaknesses are magnified for the entire world to see. I have learned much through these experiences, and I encourage you all to seek similar opportunities for service. Being shaped and being molded is not easy. During this past semester of my life, I have had to endure a constant sense of this. I have felt pain. I have felt failure. I have felt judgment. But in addition to all these things, I have also felt great grace, mercy and love, all for which I carry the deepest sense of gratitude and gladness.

“Pray that the Lord will continue to guide us all in his truth and that we remember that it is His authority that is the ultimate authority, His truth above all else, not man’s. I remain, respectfully, Aaron Morrison, student body president. Goodnight.”

The Sojourn will continue to cover this developing story.

Posted in Front Page, News, On CampusComments (1)

Constitutional Controversy: SGA Senators review policies and actions

Student Body President Aaron Morrison (sr) said his cabinet members requested that he refrain from immediately responding to allegations of constitutional violations raised during the Student Government Association meeting Monday night, Nov. 28.

“After going through the constitution, I’ve seen that there are several things that I see as either problems with violations with the constitution or problems with consistency with the constitution,” said Dani Wolowec (sr), an SGA senator from the Lodges.

Wolowec began her list of grievances by discussing what she believes SGA’s constitutional role is as a representative body. She then compared it with Morrison’s preferred methodology, noting key differences. Wolowec also said Morrison’s stance should be more neutral than opinionated.

“None of this is anything personal,” said Wolowec. “I would consider the people I know on the cabinet to be my friends.”

Wolowec’s list of grievances included constitutional violations allegedly committed by cabinet members, whether intentionally or inadvertently.

According to Wolowec, Renee Weisenbeck (jr), SGA’s vice president of academic affairs, had not been properly confirmed during an SGA meeting, after Weisenbeck filled the cabinet position vacated by Courtney Bidwell (jr) earlier this semester.

“There is a cabinet member who is not in a personal relationship with Christ, and that directly violates the constitution,” said Wolowec.

Wolowec also mentioned a Facebook post made by President Morrison in response to a post by Nick Clay (so) on “Overheard at IWU,” a group with 2,000 members, as of Nov. 30.

“Oversmelt at IWU: The return of the Stinky Elder Tree! Grab your axes!” posted Clay Nov. 17 on “Overheard at IWU.”

President Morrison confirmed that he posted the reply mentioned by Wolowec:

“In all honesty,” wrote Morrison, “if people dislike it that much, why doesn’t a group of IWU students cut it down in the middle of the night and get it over with?”

“With other less submissive student populations, that tree would have been gone ages ago,” continued Morrison’s comment, which he later said was not intended “in any way, shape or form as an encouragement for people to break the law.”

During the open floor discussion Monday night, the assembly began preliminary discussion of what can and should be done in response to Wolowec’s grievances. Luke Nelson (sr), SGA senate chair, confirmed that the assembly could, if it voted to do so, pass a non-binding “vote of no confidence” to express dissatisfaction over current leadership choices. The SGA constitution, currently, does not permit the assembly to pursue the impeachment of an elected official, but members of one committee have drafted a constitutional amendment that would introduce impeachment procedures to the constitution.

“Two weeks ago, the Ways and Means Committee drafted an impeachment process legislation that was approved by the committee; however, at the request of Aaron Morrison and Jenna Childress, it has been pushed back and blocked from discussion in the assembly, until they deem it the right time to present it to the assembly,” said John Heldreth (so), one of four SGA senators on the Ways and Means Committee.

Childress (jr), SGA executive vice president and chief of staff, is the chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee, which includes senators Aaron Sharp (jr), Andrew Chamberlain (jr) and Amy Stucker (fr), in addition to Heldreth.

Morrison, Childress and Sharp each said in separate statements that Heldreth’s use of the term “blocked” was misleading, as Morrison only requested that the committee wait to introduce its constitutional amendment for a vote. According to Sharp, it was Stucker – not Morrison – who first suggested the committee wait to introduce the legislation until after Wolowec’s presentation.

“I blinded myself to the maturity of her opinion,” said Sharp of Stucker. Stucker declined to be interviewed, saying in an email that she was frustrated with how the recent proposed legislation came about.

Sharp drafted the constitutional amendment the night before the committee meeting during which it was discussed, according to Morrison, Childress, Heldreth, Chamberlain and Sharp.

Childress, the committee’s chairwoman, did not attend that meeting due to a death in her family. She left Sharp, the committee’s vice chairman, in charge of the meeting. The constitutional amendment had not been placed on the committee meeting agenda prior to Childress’ departure, according to Morrison, as the legislation was drafted the night before the meeting. In Childress’ absence, SGA’s Ways and Means Committee approved the proposed impeachment procedure, meaning the bill was approved for debate on the SGA senate floor.

An unrelated bill, which would create an SGA Student Ministries Committee, was approved at the same committee meeting. Sharp introduced this second piece of legislation to the general assembly Nov. 28, making it eligible for a vote by the senators Dec. 5.

“Constitutional Amendments shall not be voted on during the meeting in which they are proposed,” according to the SGA constitution. The impeachment-related amendment will not be introduced until Dec. 5, at the earliest. That date is the final SGA assembly meeting in 2011, meaning the measure will not be eligible for vote until the first meeting in the spring semester, at the earliest.

This delay was further complicated at the previous assembly meeting, Nov. 21, when the senate failed to establish quorum. In order to conduct a formal business meeting, there must be a minimum number of senators present, but too many were absent. This pushed Wolowec’s list of grievances and the Student Ministries Committee legislation introduction to Nov. 28, further delaying the impeachment amendment to the final meeting of the year.

“If there were internal issues with who pushed for what, then that is a problem. Ultimately, that process should still be on its way to this floor,” said Nelson, SGA senate chair, in response to Heldreth’s Nov. 28 accusation.

Morrison said he did not “stong-arm” committee members but simply requested that they delay the bill’s introduction, saying: “I’m not going to stop you from bringing it to the floor, but I would like to offer a vote to wait. Wait one week so that a member of the cabinet could sit in on the discussion of it.”

“I’m not opposed to having it,” said Morrison. “I want to have an impeachment process in the constitution. My concern was with how that voting took place.”

“Everything that happened [at the committee meeting] was constitutional, but it just came across as being a bit facetious,” said Morrison, “especially the legislation being written overnight and not being placed on the agenda.”

Morrison said he plans to attend the next Ways and Means Committee meeting on Thursday, Dec. 1. He also hopes to formally address at least some of the concerns raised by Wolowec Nov. 28 at the SGA assembly meeting Dec. 5.

Posted in Front Page, News, On CampusComments (6)

Follow The Sojourn on Twitter