As the Pacifica Forum resolution finally passed Rules Committee on Wednesday, so too did it bring quite the controversy with it–and this time, no Nazis were present. Towards the end of the evening a bomb was dropped on the Senate (an odd happening in the same night the new ASUO logo had been debated) as tensions over a point of order rose to such that Senate Vice President Nicholas Schultz called for Senate President Nick Gower to resign by shouting, “Step down! Step down!”
The controversy started when Gower did not follow the speakers list–an ordered list for members to abide by–and instead called on Senator Lindsay Reichardt, out of turn. Schultz accused Gower of abuse of power, and called to question Gower’s action. Sens. McCafferty and Gower told Schultz he was not allowed to question that specific action of the Chair (Gower). Schultz, along with ASUO President Emma Kallaway, left the meeting for approximately 40 minutes and came back with a book of Robert’s Rules of Order–the governing rules the ASUO abides by.
From here, the situation escalated into a term I’m trying to coin here lately (patent pending)–a McDisasterfuck. Schultz had figured out that Gower and McCafferty were wrong, and that if two or more Senators called to question the actions of the Chair (Gower) then they could indeed discuss it.
Unfortunately, Gower’s initial move–in calling on Reichardt–was entirely viable. According to Robert’s Rules, the speaker’s list is merely an act of good faith, and technically the Chair (Gower) can call on whomever they please, regardless of the order of the speaker’s list. I asked Schultz if, had he known that Gower’s calling on Reichardt was complicit with the Rules, the entire situation could have been avoided. “Yes I suppose it could have,” he said.
When I asked Schultz if he felt that Gower was still in the wrong he said, “Well, he wasn’t in the wrong by the rules but he was wrong by the normal way we’ve done it for years in Senate–abiding by the speakers list. I’ve never seen anyone go off of it like that. It was rude.”
When asked if “rudeness” was an appropriate reason to call for the resignation of the ASUO Senate President Schultz said, “I suppose not. But I believe the issue is one of communication. Gower and I have very different styles. If he understood the rule [the one allowing him to call on Reichardt] then he should have explained it to us. Nick knows Robert’s Rules very well–probably the best out of anyone of the Senate. It should have been a learning experience for us.”
Senate Treasurer Lyzi Diamond said that she agreed with Schultz’s premise that the experience should be one the Senate can learn from, “But I don’t think the Senate floor is a proper place to do it. Office hours, down in the ASUO office, is the proper place to discuss such matters.”
Schultz disagreed, “I think we can learn right there, right on the floor. I think we should be explaining everything we do with each other.” On that note, I asked Schultz if the Senate had a communication problem, “I think Nick and I have a communication problem, but we’re actively working on changing that.”
Later that night, Schultz sent out an e-mail to the Senate and the press that said, in part:
“I apologize for my irrational outburst this evening. Quite frankly, it was uncalled for. My unprofessional behavior was both an embarrassment to myself and the ASUO Student Senate as a whole. It is quite clear to me that I have become a detriment to this body and the work it is hoping to accomplish. I have a short agenda which I would like to accomplish prior to departing the ASUO Student Senate. Once I have accomplished the tasks I have remaining, I will voluntarily step down from a position of leadership at the University of Oregon.”
Schultz, for the second week in a row, threatened his own resignation in the e-mail. He also apologized to Gower personally:
“I will inform you when I feel I have completed my time with the ASUO
I am sorry if I embarrassed you in a public environment. That was wrong to do.”
When I spoke with Schultz today he said he does not plan on resigning, “I only have 3 months left, I’d be letting down my constituency. I’m graduating soon, I think it’s best that I stay.”
If such McDisasterfucks could be avoided in the future, surely a better understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order might help. Schultz agreed, “I encourage any and all Senators to learn the Rules. It’s part of our job and it will make everything easier.”