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Council of Graduate Students retracts officer change after backlash

Sally Xia / Lantern photographer

The Council of Graduate Students has reversed its decision to split the vice presidential duties and stipend between two members after receiving backlash for violating its constitutional procedure.
The executive committee of the CGS nullified Act 1213, which split vice presidential duties between the CGS secretary and treasurer, at its delegate meeting Friday.
Faced with what she called a difficult decision, CGS president Allison Sturm told the delegate body that Act 1213, passed at the previous delegate meeting, was done in conflict with the CGS constitution and was therefore void.
Sturm said the committee made its decision in hopes that the organization could move past the controversy associated with the change.
“At this point it’s done,” Sturm said. “We’re all moving on and I think we should remember what we were elected to do. From this point forward, for the month or two we have left, let’s try to remember that and finish strong.”
The act, passed after former CGS president Allen Cochran resigned, was in violation of the CGS constitution because it was delivered to the delegates less than 24 hours before being put to vote.
CGS physics delegate James McMillan objected to the procedure and distributed his concerns on the leadership change by email to more than 3,500 graduate students.
McMillan’s actions brought attention to the issue, but also to him. He was eventually called in for a mandatory meeting with assistant vice president of Student Life, Douglas Koyle, who McMillan said attempted to surprise him by inviting an OSU Police officer and a representative from Student Conduct. McMillan said the officer and Student Conduct representative tried to “demoralize” him, and Koyle tried to “intimidate” him.
According to CGS’ agenda for the Friday meeting, Koyle and Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president of Student Life, were scheduled to speak but were not present.
Sturm encouraged the delegates not to dwell on the issue.
“What we just did brings us back to point zero. So I want to make sure we are not discussing something that didn’t happen,” she said.
McMillan said in an email to The Lantern that he was “very pleased with what has developed.”
With Act 1213 nullified, the vice president seat remains open and can be filled by any graduate student. Nominations were opened immediately.
Cochran, who stepped down as president for health reasons in January, nominated himself.
McMillan nominated physics graduate student Zachary Carson to fill the seat and Carson accepted.
Joshua Coy, an art education delegate, nominated himself. After his movement was seconded, Coy accepted the nomination on the condition that he not receive the allotted stipend for the vice president.
Nominations remain open online until the next CGS delegate meeting on March 22 when the election will be held for the 2012-2013 and the 2013-2014 seats.
The elected 2012-2013 vice president will hold the position for one month until the delegate meeting on April 19.
Matt Sievert, a graduate student in physics, said during the Friday meeting that while he was happy issues with Act 1213 were finished, he still has concerns about infrequent updates to CGS’ website and an absence of recently posted meeting minutes.
“I think that poses a fundamental problem as to how the student body can be aware and hold CGS accountable for what happens within this room,” Sievert said.
Minutes from the Jan. 25 meeting and all other meetings during the 2012-2013 academic year have yet to be released.
While some delegates thanked McMillan for bringing more light to the issue, others were more critical.
“I’m pretty enthusiastic and excited about the passion here. I think that everyone cares so deeply needs to be recognized,” Cochran said. “However, I am ashamed to call myself a part of a body that is more concerned with the idiosyncrasies of policies than they are about helping graduate students.”

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