Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, January 23, 2018

SG Senate: Torriente and executive board “suggested/encouraged” former Secretary Rokowski to resign

Torriente and the executive board will publicly apologize to Rokowski this week

SG Senate: Torriente and executive board “suggested/encouraged” former Secretary Rokowski to resign

The members of the original SG 2016-2017 executive board. Rokowski, second from right, resigned from her post as secretary in August. Left to right: Devontae Torriente, Shannon McDermott, Faith Rokowski, and Sam Vervaeke. 

Update: SG President Devontae Torriente released a formal apology to former SG Secretary Faith Rokowski in a statement shared on SG's Facebook account this morning. 

Student Government’s Undergraduate Senate voted on Sunday to mandate that President Devontae Torriente and the rest of the executive board, including Comptroller Shannon McDermott and Vice President Samantha Vervaeke, issue an apology for suggesting that former Secretary Faith Rokowski resign from her post.

The decision came after senators reviewed an investigation by the Committee on Oversight and Accountability regarding Rokowski’s resignation. The final amended report stated, in addition to other claims, that Torriente “suggested/encouraged” Rokowski’s resignation. Senators accepted this claim and opted for Torriente and the executive board to issue an apology to Rokowski. Alternative punishments proposed, but not enacted by COA were censure, suspension, impeachment or no action.

The Senate began its discussion of the report after COA Chair Alexis Arnell read Rokowski’s written testimony during a period of public comment. The testimony described her path to resignation, and specifically highlighted June 2, when Rokowski said Torriente suggested she resign, citing a lack of confidence in her ability to do her job.

“I remember that Devontae said, ‘Would you consider resigning your position?,’” Rokowski wrote in her testimony. “I immediately replied that I wouldn’t, to which he said, ‘Why not?’ I said, ‘Because I think I can do this job.’ And he said, ‘Well I have no confidence in your ability to do so.’”

From then on, Rokowski described how she was ignored in the SG office by the other e-board members, and stated that the situation devolved in July to the point where she could no longer work in the office without suffering from panic attacks. This took a toll on her mental health, she said.

“Say what you will about my ability to do the job, but that’s not what’s at question here,” Rokowski wrote in her testimony. “Even if they didn’t think I could do it, there were 1,000 different things they could have done before even considering trying to force me to resign. This was not done.”

Six days after hearing rumors that Torriente wanted to impeach her when the senate came back into session, Rokowski said she decided to resign her post as secretary on August 3.

After reading the testimony, Arnell told other senators that the goal of the report was to outline what happened and present options to the senate for moving forward if it chose to adopt the report.

Reflecting on the situation,Torriente told senators that the scandal was very personal, affecting his job and personal health.

“I just want to say how important it is that we resolve the issue,” Torriente said during the meeting. “I think, as Kris [Schnieder] said, there’s a lot of healing that still needs to be done and I know for me, all that has happened was personal to me. And I know we say to not take things personally, but it affected my job, it affected my livelihood, it affected my well being this entire process,”

Torriente said that next Sunday, after interviewing potential secretary replacements, he hopes to present someone “palatable” to the Undergraduate Senate in order to confirm a new SG Secretary. He wants to move forward and continue working with advocacy groups alongside the senate, as well as trying to combat the recent hate crimes on campus.

“Once we get the statement out, I plan [to] continue to focus on the several different issues on our campus. Students don’t feel safe, black students in particular,” Torriente said. “Racism is a big issue and that’s been my priority for the past week.”



jbergman@theeagleonline.com and mcarrasco@theeagleonline.com


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