Unrest in UPUA Over Chief of Staff Appointment
How timely it was for the University Park Undergraduate Association to unanimously confirm this evening as Parliamentarian sophomore Spencer Malloy. Among his duties will be to become an expert on the UPUA Constitution and bylaws, which is exactly what the organization needed in their meeting this week.
UPUA President Christian Ragland is currently away at a conference, but Vice President Colleen Smith gave the President’s report in his stead. She announced that, effective immediately, Dustin Dove would be appointed Chief of Staff of the Executive Board. Smith, on Ragland’s behalf, said that due to the immediate need, and by lack of mention in the UPUA Constitution and bylaws (loophole is the less polite term), the appointment, approval, and interview process necessary for new Assembly members does not apply to positions of the Executive Board. In addition, Chief of Staff is not currently a defined office, which negated the need for this process.
Assembly members were less than pleased with the President’s action–objections abounded. On-Campus Representative Tyler Doppelhauer moved to formally disapprove of the appointment. “It’s a complete go-around of the Assembly,” he said. Engineering Representative Blake Bonnewell found it “horrible to set a precedent for executives to by-pass the judicial branch [the Board of Arbitration].”
Several Assembly members drew attention to Ragland’s absence, finding it curious that he would not wait until he returned to announce and explain such a significant installation. The Assembly voted not to table discussion, however, until Ragland himself could attend. Smith again cited the immediate need for a Chief of Staff to manage the calendar and activities of the Executive Board. Assembly Chair Jess Pelliciotta also pointed out that Dove has acted as Chief of Staff in all but name, performing all the duties thereof, for months now.
However, to the general Assembly, it seemed a matter of principle. Many called it a constitutional loophole, some even said it was outright subversive. The assembly ultimately voted 24-3-12 to censure the President, though it cannot at this time do anything about the appointment. Dustin Dove is now Chief of Staff of the Executive Board.
Public Relations Director Emmy Enders said that ironing out the constitutional kinks is common in situations like this, as this is only the fifth UPUA assembly. “We’re eager to have this resolved so we can work through this as an organization,” she said. Representatives cautioned against infighting that brought down the Undergraduate Student Government, UPUA’s predecessor. Enders best described the feeling in the room at the end of the meeting: “This kind of discussion is healthy but we just need to move forward.”
Expect legislation for constitutional amendment when Ragland returns and UPUA convenes again in two weeks.