This is a partial transcript from the October 2007 impeachment of Science Fiction Society president Jon Adler.
October 23, 2007Edit
OCTOBER 23, 2007 TRANSCRIPT
IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS Meeting began at 7:05pm
- CALL TO ORDER 7:05pm
R. PAVIS Please remain silent while the floor is held by one person. You must stand and the chair will recognize you, in the interest of people being heard. Time will be called at 5, 3, 1, :30, and "TIME". I yield the floor to Nyren and Jonathan Jacobs.
- MOTION TO IMPEACH 7:06pm
N. SHAYLOKAR As I mentioned in the e-mail, I made the motion to impeach, due to misunderstanding. This was not the right way to do it, and I shouldn't have done it, but the Constitution does not allow for retraction. I am sorry for the undue stress, and will vote against the motion, as I don't think it will solve the motion.
J. JACOBS I think there is a significant issue, which needs to be discussed now. Impeachment may not necessarily be the best solution, but the issue must be taken seriously. The issue is that the President should run the meetings. This is very important, and he is not here to run meetings. If he has academic conflict, we need to elect someone to take his place. Either that can be a separate Co-President, or a replacement, but he should not be the sole president with someone else doing the job unless we redefine the roles of the President. Part of why I supported the motion was because I thought that a large number thought this was so trivial that it didn't need to be considered for discussion. There needed to be some stand against it to force discussion.
N. SHAYLOKAR I'd like to talk about it more after the impeachment motion is done. I don't think that it's the right solution.
- REBUTTAL 7:08pm
J. ADLER I think when I found out I was being impeached I was being texted by Christian saying "Ha ha, you're being impeached" then "No wait... it's serious." I basically got the text, said "What?" "Yeah." The point is, I had no idea, it was a complete shock that people wanted me impeached. To illustrate I had no idea I was doing a bad job, I talked to Nyren and Jonathan. They feel the meetings haven't been run as well since I haven't been there, and I respect and agree with that, also Nyren said I haven't been doing things to get the freshmen involved. And I thought, "Huh, he's right". Point is, I really want to do these things to improve my Presidency, and I would love the chance, in B Term, to improve how things are going. In terms of meetings, I agree with Jonathan, meetings need to be run well. I was under the impression that Monica was doing a fine job. The Vice President could fill the role of running the meetings. Half the things I had to do as President, you'd be disgusted at... well, startled. There was XKCD. "Jansen, make sure we have buses." "Rick, reserve laser tag." Someone needs to be hard to the club. I'll do this, if things aren't done on time, you know it. If there's no advertising, there's no one there, and there's no fun. If things aren't organized perfectly, you'll know. If it runs smoothly, it's not noticed as much. The tasks as President... "Oh, all he is is an officer that runs meetings." Yes, I run meetings. Yes, I may have been allowing it to go poorly. I was under the impression that the Preseident makes the meetings fun, showing movies at meetings would have some semblance of the past to try to make them fun. Maybe they haven't been as good as people wanted, and I found that out by the motion to be impeached. Jonathan is right, items must be addressed, but there is a better way than to impeach me. For one, I don't want people to think I'm not serious. I make jokes when I get nervous. Jonathan and Nyren, even if I don't agree... their hearts are in the right place. Second off, I want people to know I have no grudge against Jonathan and Nyren. I don't agree with it, but I think they showed that they really care about the club. Also, I don't think impeaching me will help right now, since we have no Vice President right now. In conclusion, impeaching me is bad, improving the club is good, thank you.
- STATEMENTS 7:13pm
K. GOLAN (email) My name is Kit Golan, and I was an active member of the SFS for my two years at WPI (2003-2005). Some of you may remember me (mostly seniors); some of you may have met me at D-term Gaming Weekends or during my trips to the OctoWedge through various points in the last two years. I hope to remind you exactly what it means to impeach an officer of your club and stress the importance of examining the situation from all sides before voting. The president's obligations to the club are laid out in the SFS's constitution. From the constitution: "The President shall run the club and fulfill all responsibilities not covered by other officers or committees. The President oversees activities, delegates responsibility, mediates and chairs meetings." An Impeachment is a serious proceeding. It is a statement that you do not have any confidence in the person you are impeaching to fulfill their duties to the organization. The decision to impeach someone should not be a statement of personal dislike or disagreement with a different, but equally valid form of running a club. One of the responsibilities of the President is specifically to delegate responsibility - if Jon is unable to be at meetings, but delegates effectively, he is within proper bounds of being president. As a student leader, it is important to know when to delegate. During my time at WPI, I was responsible for running an organization or two. One thing I learned from that experience is that the weekly meetings with the general membership is only a small portion of an officer's actual responsibility to the club. Planning the events (and all the work with SGA that that entails), being the face of the club on campus, recruiting new members, advertising, and other behind-the-scenes activities are the majority of what you as an officer must do. Inability to attend a weekly meeting, as long as the other stuff is being done, is a small matter, in my mind. Normally, in a club's constitution, the reasons for impeachment would be laid out. Unfortunately, the SFS's constitution is a mismash of various elements, none of which provide clear guidance in the current situation. I would strongly encourage you to consider revising the current constitution to indicate what an officer must do (or have not done) in order to be impeached - and to that end, to also lay out more clearly the expectations of SFS officers. In careful consideration of the SFS's constitution, I have actually found a number of issues; regardless of today's decision regarding Jon, I would suggest forming a committee to revise the constitution. I would urge you to consider what Jon has done for the club this year. Ask him, if you don't know, because it may not be apparent from the audience what is going on backstage. Consider both sides before you make your decision. Take this vote seriously. Thank you for listening.
S. HARDY (email) Hi. This response to Nyren's email is from Seth Hardy. It's probably going to suck being read aloud because it's a long response to a long email, but hey, it's what the officers wanted. I'll try to keep it short, but I'll probably fail. Sorry. I can has a captive audience? A little history to put my viewpoint in perspective: when I claim to know what running the club involves, it's because I was the Treasurer for a year, and then the President for two. I've been responsible for the budget, SGA paperwork, organizing major SFS events, running meetings, all of it. So, let's start with my personal response to Nyren. He writes: > I have been avoiding sending out an email regarding the impeachment, > so as to avoid unnecessary club drama. Nyren, if you really cared about avoiding unnecessary drama, you would have waited for the meeting to express your viewpoint, instead of sending out this email. When people asked you to clarify your reasons, you would have asked them to wait for the meeting, or explained your reasoning in private. It's for this reason I believe Mr. Dewhirst was entirely within his rights to suggest you "sit down and shut up" in front of the club-- you can't do something that will only cause drama and then point to a one sentence disclaimer tacked on at the beginning as a way of avoiding criticism. That being said, to address Nyren's points: Claiming Jon did not tell the club that he had a 20% chance of attending a grad class as a grievance is entirely unfair. Things come up, plans change. If you want to get really picky, this is nowhere near as much of an issue as, say, officers failing out of school over the summer. If I had a dollar for every time I've seen this happen, well, I'd have something like four or five dollars. It seems to be especially popular with the office of Vice President, to the point of where we screened people for VP with the question of "how are you doing in your classes?" because we just assumed they wouldn't be back for the following A term. My point: oh no, he didn't mention 20% chance of grad class, get over it. Another reason why the comparison isn't valid: being gone for project work implies that you're GONE. Being the president of the SFS requires a whole lot more work and effort than just showing up for meetings. Yes, someone has to yell at everyone to shut the fuck up and stop shouting "GREEN" and "PURPLE" and tell them that the joke wasn't funny years ago when it first started. But any officer (or anyone, for that matter) can do that. Let's look at some of the other requirements of the president, at least from when I was: - Organization of major yearly club events, especially Gaming Weekends - Reservation of campus space for club events - Being the primary contact for reserving campus space for member-planned events - Representation of the club at university events such as activity fairs - Contact with university administration on important issues (e.g. closing of the Wedge) - Planning the club budget with the Treasurer - Representing and defending the budget to SGA That's a lot of work, believe it or not. On being cliquish: there's always someone who has this impression. Always. The freshmen always group together, no matter how much the upperclassmen try to integrate them. Always. They have classes together. They meet at new student orientation. Even if the upperclassmen go out of their way to be nice, some people are intimidated. It happens. Anyone remember the Neo-Wedge? From my interactions with the SFS this year, mostly Gaming Weekends and the mailing list, I've seen no "class divide" between the officers and their inner cabal and everyone else. I've seen tons of events open to everyone. And Jon went way out of his way to help me out at Gaming Weekend when he didn't have to-- maybe this doesn't count because I'm an "elder" and not a freshman, but I've seen officers in the past take the attitude of "we don't care about you because you're not a student anymore" which is just as damaging to the club. On not being sci-fi enough: for as long as I've been involved, the SFS has been the umbrella organization for everything geeky at a geek school, with the exception of boffer LARPing. When more people want sci-fi discussion groups, they happen. When more people want LARPing, it happens. When more people want CCGs, it happens. When more people want movie nights, it happens. The officers are not directly responsible for these trends. As long as they encourage people to do things they are interested in, and provide the framework for these member-run events (such as by reserving campus space), they are doing their jobs. Nyren has said that the role of the president has been to be the face of the club to the club, and further claims that this is how it's been for the last six years. I don't know what specifically it means to "be the face of the club to the club", or how previous presidents have been doing this, but from what I've seen and experienced this has never been a big deal. A bit of a confession: when I was president, I had to deal with a similar situation. I had a grad class that met on Wednesday nights for one semester. At first I ducked out of class for 15 minutes in order to run meetings, which mostly consisted of yelling at people to be quiet long enough to go through the agenda. But as the class started getting more involved, I'd have to miss meetings. And it wasn't a problem-- nobody cared that the role of running those meetings was delegated to the VP, or the Secretary, or the Treasurer, because I was still actively involved in running the club and everything else that went along with it. It seems to me, from all I can see from the list and SFS events, that Jon has been doing the same and making an effort to stay involved. In conclusion: If Jon can't do his job as President, he should step down. However, the job is significantly more involved than just running meetings. It is entirely within Nyren's right to call for an impeachment due to the 75% clause in the Constitution. However, it is bad form to call for impeachment rather than let Jon make the decision and step down if necessary. It is even worse that the call for impeachment would be entirely because of the 75% rule. One might even call it a "bitch move." It is worse still that this is being done in the middle of October when the President's term effectively ends mid-December and there are no major responsibilities (such as running major club events) left in the year. Everyone, please take this into consideration when you vote. It's the point of view of an alumnus and former president, who along with many other alumni and former officers, is wondering why this has even been made into such a big issue.
- Q&D WITH JON 7:23pm
J. JACOBS I agree with a lot of what's been said. I'd like to motion now to change the Constitution to change the roles of the officers. Currently the job of the President isn't being done, or being done badly.
B. DEWHIRST What do you think that job is?
J. JACOBS The job is to run meetings or know what is going on.
B. DEWHIRST How many officers do you want to say you're wrong?
J. JACOBS I agree with Kit. I just want clarification, before the impeachment vote, as it will affect my vote.
J. ADLER A lengthy discussion about where the club is going or where it should go should happen, a meeting for the Constitution also. It sucks, you might have noticed. Your criticism is with the constitution or future of the club. As far as if you don't like the club in particular, this is your chance to voice that.
N. ORMAN One major responsibility of the President is delegating responisbilities, I am the Vice President of the Game Development Club. I was away for a full term, and knew this before election. I said "I'm going to be away for a term." The President stepped in to fill my role, he's gone now, and thus I'm stepping in to fill his role. It's a lot of work. It's hard work running a club this size. But as long as he can delegate effectively, and the problems that come up are discussed, and he does something to handle them, it's unnecessary to move to impeach him.
M. KOLB The point of delegation... The Vice President up until... nowish. I was supposed to step in on a lot of the things he couldn't be there personally to do, couldn't do it, and waited to long to step down. There was a communication breakdown on my part, and I wish it happened after replacement. There is lots of work to do, and Jon has been doing a great job behind the scenes.
J. BARRIGA Is it in the Constitution that meetings are required to be at 7:12pm?
[Some notes missing]
B. DEWHIRST That originated from officers being late to meetings.
J. BARRIGA Traditions are important, but two clubs I'm in have broken tradition just to keep officers. The GDC did it recently, we moved our year-long tradition to suit the president.
S. HARDY Considering the large chunk of alumni that are irritated with the officers as is...
M. VARLAMOVA I'm representing the freshmen. The whole point about including freshmen is kinda true. The freshmen do group together, and while there was very little the SFS had done to include us, they made us feel welcome nonetheless. There was no "Hey, Freshmen, get your ass off there." Nothing negative. Another thing is, people should lay off Nyren, and respect his decision to raise his voice, Jonathan as well. As freshmen didn't have much room to talk... "It's hard to be President." I've run a high school club, but there are a lot of people here, lots to do. Respect the job, but if you can't do all your duties, then there are a lot of other people who are willing to give a shot to do it better. If it's so hard to do, then there are a lot who are willing to give it a shot. I'm not saying they can do a better shot, but...
C. ROY I wanna make a quick comment, especially in light of "freshmen aren't welcome". I was a trasnfer student, I had no NSO. I quickly fell into the GDC, but this is the club I should have fallen into. I've been a sci-fi fan for many years, and should have been in this umbrella. But it was uncomfortable joining. You guys are very welcoming and friendly, but there's an aura that you have to be really into this stuff to be a member, and I couldn't commit to that. I became a member because of people like Jon Adler, who has other stuff besides the SFS.
J. CHAPLIN One thing to note, as a general point: Adler has been absent for academic reasons. He knew about it, but he has been working to move around it. More importantly, a motion to impeach for academic absence in some way, as a club, what we're saying is "Club before academics." That's not something we should make as a statement as a club. Something to keep in mind is, if we say, "If you wanna take grad classes you can't be President," that's a statement we make as a club.
S. HARDY What class is it that you have to miss meetings for?
J. ADLER Algebra with Martin.
S. HARDY No one should be giving you shit for that. No one. Second, what is the SFS budget?
J. ADLER $4,855.
S. HARDY You should all be WORSHIPPING him. He is partially responsible for TRIPLING the budget since I was here.
J. ADLER I would like everyone to be friendly. I think that Nyren did something really good. Up until Nyren went to impeachment, no one had the guts to say "You're doing a bad job." Was I? Discussion about that is happening right now. Nyren was willing to stick his head out, willing to put it on the cutting board, just to try to improve the club. We talked, and he was never vindictive or mean. The point is, he did a very good job, and backed down, because...
S. HARDY Discussion about the current state of club should have happened before the motion.
J. ADLER No, but not about Nyren, about me.
S. HARDY I disagree that he went about this in a good way. He abused a tool that was there for emergencies without trying a less extreme method.
J. ADLER What does the President do? What happened A Term? Over the summer, I contacted XKCD Guy, reserved a room, got him here, things for when he was here, dinner with the officers, membership cards, location for meetings, publicity, getting people interested in XKCD, XKCD went well, booked the room for Heroes, realized --- Several discussions about if a room should be reserved, the Wedge closed, discussion on whether it should be closed. "It is going to be closed." Pulled political strings, there is going to be a trial run in November for 24-hour access on weekends. This isn't fair because the officers helped. Gaming Weekend, lots of food, more soda than... triple the usual Gaming Weekends. Gaming Weekend didn't explode. There were plans for B Term. Laser Tag, organizing that, Soylent Green, this weekend. Planning for getting people to understand how we're going to get money for Family Board Game Night. The point is, stuff that goes on as President. I spend three hours every week on a movie making myself look like an idiot. The point is, yeah, there is someone here who can make meetings, someone here can do all those things too. It's not as easy as "Oh, I can do that," and if you think me not making meetings is enough that I shouldn't be doing any of these tasks, you should impeach me. If I should do a better job delegating meetings, don't. I'm not opposed to having meetings THURSDAY at 7:12. We can discuss that after I'm not impeached.
J. LUTHER It is a big deal that he schedules a room for meetings. Mike XIV lost Olin.
S. HARDY Reserving Olin is like getting into a knife fight with the university, it is a significant feat.
C. WEBBER In view of Jon's speech, the President is way more than attending meetings. I bumped into Jon in Octowedge, he was friendly and answered all my questions. He was late and still took time to talk to me. I feel that impeaching him based on just not attending meetings is not valid.
S. HARDY Adler? During E Term how many meetings did you chair? During the summer? While you were doing all that?
J. ADLER EVERY meeting.
E. WILLISON Jon even joined several of us freshmen in a "Poke, good sir, I'm going to Bang! you."
R. CHIACCHIARO If anyone has a specific problem, tell him now.
B. DEWHIRST Adler, why aren't you chairing this meeting?
J. ADLER Cause... that would be a little nuts.
- Q&D WITHOUT JON 7:43pm
J. JACOBS Well... Actually, my qualms have been addressed. The points are academics versus doing the job. Yes, we support people doing academics, but supporting academics shouldn't mean "Oh, you can miss this part of your job."
C. WALSH If it doesn't mean "Do this, as it's academically improving yourself", then what does it mean?
J. JACOBS We can say "Go do academics," but someone else can do the job in his absence.
S. HARDY Absence isn't a real absence, as shown by doing all those other things. The budget for club is totally and ridiculously unheard of.
J. JACOBS The budget for the club was done as Treasurer.
S. HARDY Who was the Treasurer last year?
J. JACOBS Jon. He was a good Treasurer, we're talking about being a good President, I don't want to confuse the issue.
J. CHAPLIN I caught Nyren on his way out. I wanted to catch his arguments. The big things were that his real concerns other than attendance were a kind of imperious attitude involving help from non-officers, which is often offensive. On some level the club has always been supported by its members. Second, even with all the great resources brought in by Jon, substance and quantity of events has not significantly increased, and has perhaps declined. I don't know the numbers, as I'm not on campus regularly, but those are concerns of his that I wish to present to club.
B. DEWHIRST At a stock meeting, you don't sue the CEO because one quarter's profits haven't been enough, it's stupid in business, it's stupid here.
M. WIXON I've heard rumors, but we can come up with concrete things. He offered to step down at the start. Concrete things to change. As far as an imperious attitude, that's beside the point, we can see how the club is run. If we feel that the club is not being run well enough... I haven't seen much of what's going on besides my Presidency. I can't see what he may, I'm not all night in the Wedge, I was unaware he has been working to get a 24-hour area. I didn't know.
J. SMITH After checking with Jon as to the Campus Center 24-hour... He poked the right people, made the right suggestions, considered the possibilities, the poll got up on my wpi. That is in fact producing results, as we can see with the trial run in November.
S. HARDY First thing, on officers being unwilling to take assistance. I've had two interactions with officers over the last year regarding various things about how club is being run. One of them was because I had been informed of the Wedge situation, Jon basically motivated me to take action to write to Student Life and Residential Services. As an alumnus, I wouldn't have done that if Jon hadn't raised the issue. I don't understand, I have not seen personally any attempts to turn back help. In conversation about it, he suggested things to do to keep helping, not even as a member anymore, as an alumnus. About not having enough events... it's my understanding AnimeFest is gone, Gaming Weekends happen. He has negotiated with the administration to reserve space for other smaller events that are more or less member-run. If Nyren is worried about there being not enough events, he should step up and do more, rather than blame who reserves space for things that are often seen as questionable. I've had to myself, and it's difficult to deal with.
J. SMITH The issue of Nyren's isn't that there are fewer or inadequate, but that there aren't as much as there should be as a Class III Organization.
R. CHIACCHIARO From a student's perspective... as a freshman, both of Nyren's complaints have no weight with me, but I've been in both positions. I helped with Friday Gaming, did little things. He never bitched at me, there was no imperialism, he even gave me a book of 20 crappy short stories, you can read them if you want to. The other thing about events... I'm in another club, we've had one meeting this year, and we haven't done shit. It could be a lot worse. Impeachment is for someone doing a lot worse than what they should be doing, not "Eh." If I'm a frosh and I can say this then other people should... whatever.
S. HAPONIK Imperiousness Nyren means, is the Wedge-closing incident. Jon came into the Wedge to talk about what's happening, and Jon gave Nyren a lot of flak for asking Residential Services what was going on. Like he should have not gone to Residential Services.
[Some notes missing]
J. LUTHER If Nyren has something he should run, he has run at least three LARPs over A Term, and is fully responsible for The Morning After.
[Some notes missing]
S. HARDY Nyren stormed out. He would do it over the mailing list, but it's not allowed.
J. LUTHER Frankly, I don't know as well as Nyren, but most people would not be able to sit here and be villainized.
S. HARDY I'm not trying to villainize him, ut it's not grounds to attack somebody.
R. COLOPY Nyren was asked to say that to list.
S. HARDY There are some major issues with the fact that discussion was squashed.
J. CHAPLIN As far as Jon being unable to support events... I would like to note the $4,000.
A. MARUT I was bothered by the repetetive use of "idiot"s.
T. DE RHAM We're here to discuss impeachment.
J. BROSSIUS I'd like to move to voting.
RESULT: 46 to 1 against impeachment
VP ELECTION Robyn Colopy