Vote to Oust Senator Delayed

Gin Dumcius

Senator J. Stone Laraway was granted a brief reprieve when the Senate voted to postpone a vote of no confidence in him until the next Senate meeting this month, while a campus police officer stood guard outside throughout the meeting.

Vice President Tuan Pham, the originator of the vote, put forth his reasoning in a page-long list of charges, calling Senator Laraway “consistently… a counterproductive member of the Student Senate.” Vice President Pham contended that Senator Laraway “was quick to point out mistakes of the Student Senate” and then would expose those mistakes to The Mass Media. “However, what the Senator is not quick to do is help the Senate fix its mistakes where appropriate and promote progression among the organization and the University. The effect has been many negative articles about the Student Senate in The Mass Media and resentment from many students towards the Senate,” wrote Pham.

Vice President Pham cited an incident involving the Senator as an example. A week earlier, Senator Laraway wrote a memo saying that a meeting of Campus & Community Affairs Committee was invalid because the Chair, Senator Fritz Hyppolite, had not posted the agenda for that meeting. Right before the meeting, Senator Laraway “confronted the CCA Chair and almost demanded the meeting not take place. Partly because of the Senator’s actions, the meeting did not take place- wasting valuable member time and time to discuss important issues.”

The Vice President wrote that he felt “the Student Senate places it focus now more on damage control when it can represent the students and help move this University forward,” calling Senator Laraway’s actions a consistent “pattern of counterproductive behavior.”

At the last meeting of the fall semester, Senator Laraway made an attempt to postpone Item 6 (as the vote of no-confidence was called on the Senate’s agenda for that day) until January 6. The motion passed, but only briefly.

Director of Student Life Joyce Morgan stated that it was in the Senate’s “best interest” to postpone it, for several senators were absent for academic reasons. A vote was made, and passed, until Vice President Pham made a motion to reconsider, saying that it was his belief that “the previous motion was not clear.”

Senator Andrew Barnes agreed, and said it was important to reconsider, and that if it was carried over to the next year, it might lose its importance.

Senator Maria Moreno said she felt that “we should give everybody who isn’t here a chance” to vote.

Student Trustee Heather Dawood pointed out that the day’s attendance was average for Senate meetings.

Vice President Pham restated his belief that the vote could not be postponed, at that time, but the senate had the option to do so when it came to the item on the agenda later in the meeting. Reading from Robert’s Rules, he also pointed out that a 2/3 majority was needed for a vote to remove the item.

Director Morgan said that it had been allowed before with a vote of the majority, and it would be an “unfortunate time to change precedent.”

“We’re changing the rules to benefit certain items,” said Senator Laraway. “We’re using Robert’s Rules of Order when it’s convenient to us.”

An appeal was made, and was upheld in a 6 to 3 vote. Senator Laraway made a motion to reconsider. President Panciotti asked why. “Because I have that right,” said Senator Laraway.

A motion to reconsider is out of order, said Vice President Tuan Pham, since it was an appeal.

“I abstained because I was confused and I would like it explained,” said Senator Moreno. President Panciotti said that the argument of the Vice President would stand as written on the agenda.

The issue was taken up later when the Senate went into executive session, and didn’t come out until well after five o’clock. The decision had been made to postpone the item until January.

At the end of the meeting, Senator Laraway said he felt “completely disappointed by the process,” to which President Panciotti responded that he felt the senator’s pain.

The item was put on the agenda the week before in a Steering Committee meeting, attended by President Panciotti, Vice President Pham, Student Trustee Dawood, and Senators Hyppolite, Barnes, and Moreno. Vice President Pham moved to add the vote of no confidence, and Senator Barnes seconded it. The vote was 4 ayes to 1 abstention. Vice President Pham then moved to go into executive session.

Senate Miscellania:

During the December 18 meeting, President Panciotti filed a report, stating that he had reached an agreement with Chancellor Jo Ann Gora over the Student Activities Trust Fund. It will not be used to pay state employees, as has happened earlier in the year.

Senator Paul Delaria will no longer be serving as Representative to the Faculty Council. Vice President Pham nominated Senator Andrew Barnes, and Senator Moreno nominated Senator Jesse Solomon, who was not present. The vote was moved to another date, but in the meantime, Trustee Dawood suggested that Senator Barnes appear as the interim Faculty Representative at the next meeting, which was seconded by Senator William Roach, and passed in a 9-2 vote.

Trustee Dawood had no report, but stated that if anyone had any questions regarding the “Possible Student Trustee Misconduct” article that ran in the December 12 edition of The Mass Media, to speak with her. President Panciotti ruled her out of order, and Trustee Dawood repeated what she had said.

UMass Boston’s literary magazine, The Watermark, received $1624.00 for a new computer.

The Women’s Center asked for and got $3250.00 for a welcome back party in January.

The ARMS Center was granted $4500.00 for a holiday gift drive for students in need, but not without some debate. Senator Robert Comerford felt that it was a great idea, but a “misuse of funds.” The Student Activities Trust Fund “is not Santa Claus” or a “charity,” he said. Senator Barnes contended that it benefits all the students and benefits the school as a whole. Senator Geraldine White chimed in, saying that the proposal “makes sense,” and that if ski trips are approved, then this should be as well. Senator White was referring to Casa Latina’s request for $3500.00 at the previous Senate meeting for a ski trip.

“Out of all UMass events, this is one of the most important ones,” said Senator Tonya Samuel-Adams. Trustee Dawood praised the center as well, for reaching out to the students.

The Chess Club was given $300.00 for a Chess Tournament.

The Queer Student Union requested $3000.00 for a speaker and event for Black History Month in the third week of February. The amount was amended to $3800.