Reps Clear Council Air After Senator's Removal

    In an effort to “”clear the air”” with the A.S. Council, representatives from the Student Council of Eleanor Roosevelt College came to the latest council meeting and attempted to iron out misunderstandings sprouting from their in-house removal of a senator.

    SCERC officials declared Eleanor Roosevelt College Freshman Senator Stephanie Usry “”incapacitated”” after she suffered injuries in a Wyoming car crash during winter break. Constitutional rules for both SCERC and the A.S. Council dictate that elected officials must be concurrently enrolled as students.

    During the A.S. Council meeting, SCERC Director of Student Organizations Cortney Eakin, flanked by a delegation of other SCERC representatives, told councilmembers that Usry’s absence opened a vacuum of representation that needed to be filled.

    This week, A.S. President Harry Khanna finalized Usry’s removal by detaching her from the at-large council. Khanna said he was reluctant to accept SCERC’s recommendation to oust the senator, who underwent hospitalization and rehabilitation for months after her accident.

    Since then, SCERC members and councilmembers have traded barbs publicly, and miscommunication on all sides has soured relations since SCERC’s decision to remove Ursy was made third week of this quarter, Eakin said.

    Khanna said he was puzzled that SCERC had failed to consult Usry before its decision. The senator sent several e-mails to council peers emphasizing her devotion to the council, and said she was “”only getting second- and third-hand [recollections]”” on the issue. Khanna said that when he fielded SCERC’s recommendation, he found that Usry was unaware of circumstances surrounding her removal and allowed her a week to form a response.

    Eakin said SCERC made a conscious decision to not contact Usry about her removal. Members concluded that contacting the senator and her family during a time of duress – especially during her hospitalization – would be tacky.

    “”We didn’t want to tell her, ‘We just wanted to let you know that since you’re not a student here, you can’t be on student council,'”” she said. “”That is pretty insensitive.””

    SCERC members had originally mulled impeaching Usry, but identified a legislative avenue that could remove and replace the senator without the negative undertones attached to impeaching her.

    “”Suggesting impeachment was not our initial reaction,”” Eakin told the council. “”The general consensus has us being the ‘bad guy.’ But this was a very sensitive situation that we wanted to handle delicately.””

    Eakin added that while several councilmembers painted SCERC as a body bent on removing Usry, its members contemplated the decision in a calculated and respectful fashion.

    During the A.S. Council meeting, Eakin and other SCERC members questioned Khanna’s involvement in the matter. Roosevelt Senior Senator Erik Rodriguez-Palacios asked Khanna if his involvement undermined the legitimacy of SCERC as a college council.

    Khanna disagreed, saying his only possible infraction was allowing Usry one week to form her letter.

    “”If I have to balance respecting the basic due process rights of an individual who just had brain surgery, against the understandable desire of SCERC to have their recommendations carried out immediately, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out which one I’m going to pick,”” he stated in an e-mail.

    Eakin further questioned Khanna’s decision-making process.

    “”If there was hesitancy in action that was taken, it was never brought to us directly,”” she said.

    Some councilmembers questioned other bodies that oversaw the situation. A.S. Vice President of Student Life Janine Dellomes received support from councilmembers when she questioned the involvement of college deans in council issues. Khanna said he interacted with Roosevelt Dean of Student Affairs Patricia S. Goen minimally regarding Usry’s removal; Goen merely confirmed the discontinuation of Usry’s enrollment, he said. SCERC members have previously denied that their dean had any bearing on their decisions.

    The meetings concluded amiably, with Eakin thanking Khanna.

    “”I never saw this as an A.S. Council versus SCERC situation,”” Khanna replied.

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