Three weeks after election results were announced, election talk lingers at Grambling State University. After meeting with several concerned students in regards to the election, President Frank Pogue sent out a letter to the student body via their student e-mail accounts. In an effort to make sure the comments in his letter were clearly understood by the student body, he invited students to an open meeting with him, appropriate staff and student representatives on Monday in the T.H. Harris Auditorium.
In attendance with President Pogue was Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Stacey Duhon, SGA adviser David “Rusty” Ponton, Sgt. Peterson of Grambling State Police Department and then SGA President Lamark Hughes.
“I do not want to undermine student government because it is its own separate entity,” Pogue stated. “I, however, will help you as you work to strengthen your constitution process,” he said.
Dr. Pogue then allowed the students in the audience to ask questions and express their concerns.
Students felt that there was a need for a re-election or to at least re-instate the disqualified candidates. Hugely due to the fact that two presidential candidates were disqualified for violating rules that they argue were not clearly spelled out in the code of elections.
“Re-elections are not an option. We must move forward not backwards,” Pogue stated.
“Dr. Pogue stated he would not get involved with student elections, but later contradicted himself by saying there would be no re-elections,” stated Stavino freshman accounting major
Many students then asked questions pertaining to the election code and the Election Commission.
The Election Commission members presided over every aspect of the elections and were the only people with the authority to disqualify students.
SGA Vice President William Burge wanted clarification on who exactly was a part of the election commission. The Election Commission is supposed to be composed of the election commissioner, the deputy election commissioner, president of SGA, a representative of the administration and a member from the general student body.
The administrative rep was appointed by Dr. Duhon and the general student body rep by Ponton.
Burge asked Ponton who he appointed to sit on the board of elections. Ponton stated that he chose to appoint Solange Sayers to the board.
Sayers, however, was not informed of meeting times for the board of elections and was not kept abreast of all election events. As a result, she was not able to do the job she was appointed to do.
“I only received one e-mail concerning elections and never received anything else on the subject,” Sayers stated. “When I asked more questions on what my job responsibilities were I was told by Dr. Duhon not to worry about it, ‘concentrate on your Queens’ Showcase,'” she said.
Burge then proceeded to ask Dr. Duhon who did she chose to appoint. “I appointed myself. I did this because I know the SGA code of elections and the SGA Constitution and I wanted to make sure things were done right”
The election commission received numerous letters about violations even prior to elections. A statement by the Election Commission said this has been the worst election, because numerous candidates were trying to get other candidates disqualified even before the election process began.
“The board of elections is supposed to go to the Vice President of Student Affairs if they need guidance on a matter but with the V.P. serving on the board who do they turn too? Burge asked.
In this case the students had no one else to turn too except the president of the university.
The self-appointment by Duhon raised many eyebrows.
“Being able to elect yourself was not fair at all, knowing the election code does not give you the right to appoint yourself. Somebody could have been easily trained,” stated Loic Anagho, a senior economics major.
Students argued that many rules enforced by the election commission were not in the election code and many verbal statements were not made clear to all candidates.
Candidates who were disqualified were able to turn in an appeal to the board of elections and no decisions were over turned.
“A win is a win,” stated Jessica Joyner, a leisure studies transfer student. “If a person loses they should congratulate the other person instead of finding a reason to bring the other person down. Some people are just really sore losers and need to just give it up.”
In the midst of the meeting Sergeant Peterson encouraged students to stick together and to remember the big picture which is making GSU a better place. Peterson also announced that he is now serving as the interim police chief.
When questions arose pertaining to the lack of an announcement about personnel changes in the GSUPD, Pogue’s eagerness as well as his tone of voice quickly changed.
“You are not the president are you? So how would you know?” Pogue argued, when asked why the students and faculty had not yet been informed of the occurring changes in the department.
He abruptly cut the conversation off and stated the students would be informed in due time.
“It’s important to ask questions, we must deal with the way we do business” stated Pogue.
“Chief Craig Nance resigned to work at another institution, and Dwayne Chambers, the assistant chief also resigned” according to Leon Sanders, Vice President of Finance & Administration, who is also over the police department.
However, sources very close to GSUPD stated that the assistant chief in fact did not retire, he was fired. Attempts to contact Chambers were unsuccessful.
“My safety as well as the safety of other students is very important to me,” Joyner said. “I am upset that the school did not publicly inform us of these changes, which seems very suspicious to me, not to mention that they both left before the end of the academic year.”
Speculation of the changes going on spread through the campus over spring break.
“I truly think that some administration enjoys keeping the students ignorant,” Anagho stated.
President Pogue ended the meeting shortly after and stopped answering questions.
Even though the meeting ended numerous students still raised concerns about the vice president of student affairs.
“Duhon is on a power trip, she is hindering the SGA and the school,” stated Kia Shelley, junior psychology major. Her concern is not the voice of the students and she should not be allowed to be in student affairs.