While students were taking a break from their spring semester workloads, staff changes occurred in the Office of Student Union and Activities. But it is unclear to many what those changes are and why they were made.
According to Henry L. Kirby, the associate vice president of student affairs, the OSUA is operating without a director, a job formerly held by Alice Mathis.
“The office is running as it should, but it doesn’t have an interim director,” Kirby said.
Kirby said by now it is no secret Mathis is not functioning in her role as director of the OSUA. Mathis, who was hired last year, has been suspended with pay pending a further investigation. However, University officials have not released an official explanation as to why she is no longer in the post.
Still, Kirby said the absence of an interim director would not affect OSUA’s scheduled programming. He also said there is a protocol for succession when a top administrator is removed. In this case, Saundra Inge, the associate director of student activities, will serve as the director until an interim is selected.
While Kirby said the office is functioning as normal, employees in the office are under the impression that Mathis is still in charge of student activities.
The Famuan staff made several calls to the office and was told Mathis is still the director.
OSUA Program Specialist Catherine Jefferson said she was not aware that Mathis’ status at the University was in question.
Although University administrators and OSUA employees are remaining silent about Mathis’ status, student government officials are not.
SGA President Virgil Miller said he was disappointed with the University’s decision to remove Mathis.
“I have not been officially notified of the reason for her removal,” said Miller, 23, a second-year graduate Public Health student from West Palm Beach.
Miller said the removal leaves him with a sense of uncertainty and concern for the future of the student activities office.
“I was very pleased with her work and her relationship with the students,” Miller said. “She bought new and different programming to the office for students. She brought the opportunity for students to continue to be heard and bring their input.”
In addition to Mathis’ tentative removal, Benita Lamb, who worked with SGA, was also suspended with pay.
During Monday’s Student Senate Meeting, a number of student senators questioned whether the body would be able to move forward with budget allocations for the remainder of the semester. Allocations are slated to continue through next week. Concern has risen over whether the interims for Mathis and Lamb will be familiar enough with budget protocol and other SGA responsibilities to properly serve the student body.
Miller said the suspensions would make the allocation process difficult, but he and the executive branch will work diligently with the Senate to make it work.
SGA Vice President Keneshia Grant also relayed her frustrations with the recent events. Grant said she was bothered by the unwillingness of University administrators to openly discuss the reason behind the suspensions with the student body.
“If you want to be mad at somebody over this, be mad at Dr. (Patricia) Green-Powell,” Grant said.
Miller urged students to demand they be included and informed during any similar situation. Miller said the precedent of this situation will lead to administrators making decisions and “letting (students) know about it later” unless the problem is confronted.
A townhall meeting was held Tuesday evening concerning Mathis and Lamb, as well as the replacement process.
Contact Alexia R. Robinson and Steven Jumper at firstname.lastname@example.org