The UPUA Chief of Staff Controversy, Continued
The University Park Undergraduate Association has now had time to react to last night’s censure of President Christian Ragland. The Assembly voted 24-3-12 to reprimand the President for appointing Dustin Dove to the position of Chief of Staff without approval or confirmation by the Assembly, and after the Board of Arbitration ruled that Dove was ineligible to serve in UPUA.
Chair of the Assembly Jessica Pelliciotta explained in a statement Ragland’s reasoning in making his decision, as well as the Assembly’s position:
The President read the article defining his position and found no explicit appointment process delineated in this section. The argument was made that no such approval process exists independently from the Assembly Bylaws. […] Essentially, the President made a claim that he was not subject to Assembly Bylaws, nor would he be required to have his appointments confirmed by the Assembly. The Assembly responded that, according to the Constitution, the Bylaws were pursuant to all Executive appointments. […] The Assembly felt as though all checks [on individual powers] had been countermanded. Therefore, the move to censure, which is defined in our Constitution, was chosen to make clear that such circumvention would not be tolerated.
The Assembly and Executive Board are separate entities in UPUA, and at this time the Executive Board does not have governing bylaws. While the Assembly saw it as a constitutional loophole, Ragland wrote in a statement that he purposely invited discussion on the issue of constitutional interpretation.
I wanted to challenge the language of what I saw as a vague section of the constitution. The section was not clear to me in regards to the role of Chief of Staff and appointment process. I was not looking to strong-arm, coerce, or muscle the assembly. In fact, I wanted the assembly to debate my claim of vagueness and then move on from there.
Ragland’s absence from the meeting further complicated the issue. It added to the perception of circumvention and sneakiness (Ragland also said he was offended by the censure, having not been there to defend himself). However, Dove asserts that being appointed with Ragland absent was part of the President’s plan for the Chief of Staff. “Because Christian was, and still is, away for a conference,” he said, “he felt it essential to reaffirm my role so I can help the Executive Board more during his absence.”
Dove continued to remark on his new position. “Honestly, I’m looking forward to continuing my role and working with everyone in UPUA to ensure that we are all successful throughout the rest of the year. I am regretful that my position has caused any drama within the organization and that it takes away from the real work of UPUA.”
Dove himself is currently drafting the executive bylaws set to supplement those pertaining to the Assembly, so last night’s hullaballoo doesn’t happen again.