This article first published 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 14, 2009. More updates will follow.
Student Body President Emma Kallaway responded to a rival’s attempt to use the ASUO grievance process to oust her with a scathing rebuttal delivered to the ASUO’s judicial body Tuesday. (Read the full text of Kallaway’s rebuttal here, and read Haley’s original complaint here.)
The grievance was filed by former EMU Board Chairperson Michelle Haley, who ran against Kallaway for the presidency, and Kallaway accused Haley of filing the grievance because of bitterness over the election results.
Kallaway wrote: “(T)his petition for review is a malicious attempt to remove Respondent after no wrongdoing, most likely as a result of Respondent defeating Petitioner in the 2009 ASUO General Election.”
Haley described the accusation as one “I really disagree with.”
In the fall, the complaint against Kallaway will go before the ASUO Constitution Court, the body charged with interpreting the ASUO Constitution. Problematically for Kallaway, the five-seat court now contains only two sitting members, which means that, before it can hear her case, she must appoint three more members. Though she has said she plans to distance both herself and the grievance from the hiring process for court members, the ASUO Constitution mandates she play at least some role in the appointments, meaning she must effectively appoint her own jury.
That situation is made all the more problematic by the questions raised in Haley’s grievance about Kallaway’s hiring processes. In her complaint, Haley accused Kallaway of cronyism in appointing as her chief of staff a friend who worked on her campaign.
The other complaints relate to Kallaway’s reading of e-mails sent to her presidential account, a meeting she had during a student-funded trip, and controversy over Kallaway’s late public release of her plans for her time in office.
Politics of the grievance
The response to Haley’s grievance from within the ASUO, among office holders, has been uniformly negative. Both Kallaway’s allies and her political rivals have bemoaned its filing.
Many in the ASUO believe the complaints against Kallaway do not warrant removal from office, but they also consider Haley’s case (outlined below) a strong one that Kallaway will need to work to fight.
“This case highlights the peculiar difference between justice and the law,” former ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz said. “Emma certainly does not deserve to be kicked out of office. That would not be justice. It’s whether or not the alleged account falls against the workings of the constitution. And, in the end, I hope Emma is not kicked out of office.”
Dotters-Katz supported neither Kallaway nor Haley, nor any other candidate in the 2009 election. Kallaway’s left-leaning political allies are also Dotters-Katz’s political enemies, while the supporters who got him elected also worked with Haley on her campaign. But Dotters-Katz’s failure to support Haley, his campaign manager when he was elected, could be seen as a snub.
Sen. Nick Gower, the ASUO’s most powerful conservative and Kallaway’s principal rival, has also bemoaned the grievance, even though it was originally he who brought many of its concerns to light.
Haley said she knew of nobody currently in office within the ASUO who supported her, and hadn’t had any contact with anyone in office.
“I haven’t really asked anyone,” Haley said of those involved in the ASUO. “To be very honest, I mean, I don’t care. I mean, I’m no longer part of the ASUO and I think that, if somebody else had wanted to file a grievance, they would have.”
Counts of the grievance
1. That Kallaway failed to publish criteria for fulfillment of her duties on time:
- Facts of the matter: An ASUO rule stipulates that “the President shall establish and publish his or her own criteria for fulfillment of duties within one month of taking office (June 24).” Kallaway said she sent a draft of her criteria to staffers on June 24, but the first time they were seen outside the office appears to be July 20, when Kallaway sent an e-mail containing a memo that listed June 24 as its “original date.” Senators complained about the shortness of the first set of criteria, and Kallaway subsequently released a longer document.
- Haley says: “(T)he ASUO Constitution dictates that any office elected under this Constitution shall be considered vacant if the duty is not being performed for a period of three (3) weeks (ASUO Constitution Section 14.3) … Under this premise alone, the Court should find the office of the ASUO President vacant.”
- Kallaway responds: “This claim is moot because the duty in question was fulfilled prior to (Haley) filing this grievance. Therefore, the circumstances raised in (Haley’s) argument no longer exist.”
2. Haley alleges Kallaway lied to the student body by writing the date “June 24” atop the document.
- Facts of the matter: Part of Kallaway’s heading read, “Original Date: June 24th 2009,” which Kallaway said reflected the date she first consulted her staff about the initial criteria. However, in a letter published in the Emerald (and cited by Haley), Kallaway called the criteria “late.”
- Haley says: “Not only does this behavior question her character and integrity, but it also encroaches on rules set forth by the Student Conduct Code; I encourage this Court to investigate this matter further.”
- Kallaway responds: “It is not the Court’s responsibility to fulfill the role of fact finder and to investigate any matters relating the Student Conduct Code. It is the responsibility of complainants before the Court to present evidence that will allow the Court to interpret the Constitution and any rules promulgated under it.”
3. Haley accuses Kallaway of “neglecting ASUO e-mails.”
- Facts of the matter: Kallaway did not respond to e-mails from the Lane Transit District for about a month, which elicited the ire of a former ASUO staffer. She said the lack of communication owed to problems with ASUO e-mail accounts. (Read the full story here.)
- Haley says: “Kallaway’s reckless behavior jeopardized the ASUO’s contract with Lane Transit District … Furthermore, her neglect disenfranchised student programs from contacting the ASUO President, who is responsible for the administration of ASUO Programs.”
- Kallaway responds: Haley “provides no evidence to substantiate her allegation of unanswered communications for two months … There is no requirement that states that the ASUO President is required to check electronic mail on a regular basis, even though (Kallaway) has done so since she began her current role.”
4. Haley accuses Kallaway of impropriety in meeting with former ASUO President Jared Axelrod while on a student-funded trip to Washington, D.C.
- Facts of the matter: Kallaway said she did meet with Axelrod while on the trip.
- Haley says: “Emma Kallaway’s incidental-fee-funded political meeting was wrong and dangerous for the integrity of student government.”
- Kallaway responds: Haley “has no proof that any meeting between (Kallaway) and Axelrod took place. Without any proof, this claim is unsubstantiated, and should be dismissed … (Kallaway) believes (Haley) is pointing to Senate Rule 12.5(a)(I)(ii)(1)(c). However, the Senate Rules clearly only apply to members of the Student Senate, which (Kallaway) is not a part of … Put simply, there is no rule or constitutional clause that prohibits students from the University of Oregon from talking with other people while they are attending a student fee funded event.”
5. Haley alleges that, in hiring senior Ella Barrett, a personal friend who worked on her campaign, Kallaway violated ASUO affirmative action policies.
- Facts of the matter: Kallaway’s appointment of Barrett was occasioned by controversy, and some ASUO staffers predicted Barrett’s appointment before it happened. At the time, former ASUO Sen. Carina Miller, who also applied for the position, complained. Kallaway subsequently appointed Miller to her old Senate seat.
- Haley says: “Two students with more experience than Ella Barrett also applied for the position of ASUO Chief of Staff. The two students, Carina Miller and Diego Hernandez, were not only more qualified than Ella Barrett (both having served on the ASUO Senate and leading student unions), but they are both students of color.” Note: Kallaway said Miller applied but Hernandez didn’t.
- Kallaway responds: “(Haley) claims that another candidate was more experienced than Ella Barrett, the current Chief of Staff, by the pure opinion that the other applicant’s experience, as well as (Haley’s) assertion that the other applicant self-identifies as a student of color, qualifies the applicant for the position. However, Barrett was chosen for many reasons, including superior qualifications, most notably, past service on staff of the ASUO Executive, proven track record, and vision and objectives for the position.”