Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, December 14, 2018

College Repubs pledge constitutional reforms

In light of recent questions about the leadership of the College Republicans, the club's executive board met April 11 with Kimberly Herrera, a staff member from Student Activities, and Bernie Schultz, the club's adviser in the Office of Campus Life, and have gone on the record in attempts to clear up confusion about the club's leadership and dues collection.

The e-board allegedly violated its constitution by stopping dues collection before spring break and removing its membership chair, Caleb Smith, from office, The Eagle previously reported.

College Republicans President John Zevitas said the allegations that the club had violated its constitution were "absurd" and "politically motivated."

"The e-board's actions are regrettable and Student Activities' inaction is disappointing," Smith said. "Hopefully lessons were learned, reforms will be made and the membership will be put first next year."

The meeting with advisers put an end to any questions about AUCR dues and leadership, said Will Haun, the club's vice president and a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs.

"All issues were addressed in that meeting," Haun said. "It was accepted by everyone in the room that the actions taken by the e-board were constitutional ... and for the betterment of the club."

Smith, a junior in SPA, said he disagreed. He called the meeting "unproductive."

"I felt nothing was decided other than you guys need to change your constitution next year," he said, in reference to the College Republicans' constitution.

Smith said Student Activities recommended the club reform its constitution, which most at the meeting agreed with.

"There are a lot of things everyone wants changed and updated," said Seth Johnson, College Republicans secretary and a senior in SPA.

According to Johnson, the reforms will probably involve clearly defining what each executive's role entails.

In the meeting, Johnson said Student Activities' main issue was the process through which Smith was removed.

"Student Activities wanted it to be done in a more personal way ... but it didn't work out," Johnson said.

Smith's dismissal produced further contention among e-board members because they did not agree on whether or not he had been removed from office constitutionally.

Student Activities and the OCL adviser said removing Smith from his position without a vote was OK because he was an appointed member, not an elected member, according to Zevitas.

Haun said since appointed members serve at the discretion of the president and there was "a constitutional reason" for Smith's dismissal, it was legitimate.

Questions had also been asked about how the executives set an arbitrary due date for stopping dues collection, despite there being no provision to do so in the group's constitution.

Caleb Enerson, club treasurer and a sophomore in SPA and the College of Arts and Sciences, said he went to Student Activities to ask about setting a date when membership fees were due to the club. They responded that it would not be a problem as long as members knew about the date, Haun said. Setting a deadline for dues has been a club precedent and can be traced back for years, he said.

"It's done because what typically happens if you have other people who aren't College Republicans ... they decide we are going to be CRs for a night so we can vote our friends into office," Haun said. "Members that really care about the club's direction, members who want to have their voice heard, are making their voice heard."

According to Haun, Smith collected dues from members, which was a violation of his constitutional responsibilities. According to the constitution, only the treasurer is allowed to collect funds; however, in practice both the president and treasurer collect funds.

An initial e-mail and Facebook message was sent out to the listserv Sunday telling members dues were due on Friday.

Dues can be paid at any time during the semester and most members paid at the first general meeting, Zevitas said.

Members who had not yet paid their dues and wanted to could set up a time to meet with Zevitas or Enerson, or could pay through a PayPal account on the College Republicans' Web site, Zevitas said. They later found out the PayPal account was prohibited by Student Activities and apologized for it.

Some club members had expressed confusion over the setback of the club's e-board elections, which were constitutionally supposed to be held the first week of April. According to Zevitas, they were pushed back because "we knew we had the opportunity to bring Karl Rove to campus," referring to Rove's controversial recent visit to campus for a College Republicans speaking engagement.

Herrera declined to comment.

The College Republicans held their 2007-2008 e-board elections without incident Tuesday night. Haun was elected president; Luke Kraus, a freshman in SPA, was elected vice president; Chris Palko, a sophomore in SPA, was elected secretary; and Enerson was elected treasurer.

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