Four Student Association senators walked out of Tuesday night’s meeting within minutes of each other, saying the body’s leader was ignoring them.
Sen. Eugene Beckley (CCAS-U) accused Executive Vice President Brand Kroeger of not calling on the legislators during the debate on electoral reforms. Beckley, a sophomore, did not overtly call Kroeger a racist, but said that his actions were racist.
Sens. Beckley, OG Oyiborhoro (CCAS-U), Jasmine Gaskins (ESIA-U) and Eric Woodard (CCAS-U), all black, walked out during a vote for the establishment of online voting for the election, which was later approved by the Senate.
“The accusations are more than baseless: they’re silly,” Kroeger said in a news release. “The minutes of the meeting prove that I called upon every senator who wanted to speak, and the rules and regulations were followed. As EVP, I will continue to allow all senators to express their opinions fairly.”
Beckley said Kroeger did not allow the black senators to speak each time they wanted to during debate on the election legislation. In his capacity as EVP, Kroeger has the power to choose who will speak during SA meetings.
Beckley, Oyiborhoro, Gaskins and Woodard, the only black senators present, walked out within five minutes of each other.
“I find that hard to believe that he could not see.African-Americans in a room full of white people,” Beckley wrote in an e-mail to SA senators. “And furthermore, let me inform what the definition of racism is. Preferring other race to other. Since the other members of the senate are white and he gave them an opportunity to speak he could be said to preferring other over certain senators.”
In an interview with The Hatchet, Beckley said that Kroeger called on the black senators to speak, but often skipped over them after they had been waiting to speak.
“I am not calling Brand Kroeger a racist, but his actions are deemed such,” he said.
According to the minutes from Tuesday’s meeting, only Sens. Nick D’Addario (U-At Large) and Elliot Bell-Krasner (CCAS-U) spoke more than Oyiborhoro during debate of the election legislation. The three other black senators present spoke at least one time during debate.
Oyiborhoro, who was the first to leave the meeting, said he felt marginalized by Kroeger.
“You’re not letting me talk,” said Oyiborhoro, chair of the Student Life Committee, as he put his coat on to leave at the meeting. “I feel disrespected as a chairman.”
In years past, EVPs have opted to use a “speaker’s list” in order to ensure that each senator is able to speak during the debate of legislation. Kroeger did not use a speaker’s list Tuesday.
“I believe there should be a speaker’s list up,” D’Addario said. “I think that all of those who opposed the bill had said something. I think all of the points had been raised, for and against the bill, were addressed. However, I do not think the actions (of Kroeger) were in anyway racist.”
Kroeger, a junior, said he was disappointed in the senators who left before the vote.
“The only way a senator’s voice can be heard is if they stay in a room and speak on behalf of their students,” Kroeger said. “If they leave, they are not serving the students.”