Grand Rapids Community College Student Congress started the year with an internal power struggle that culminated in an effort to recall Vice President Jeffrey Noel. This effort is now pending a review from GRCC administrators.
Noel received an email from Student Congress President Chaka White informing him of his recall two days after the four other members of the executive board signed a petition for his removal and cast a unanimous vote to end his vice presidency.
According to the Student Congress Constitution, an officer may be recalled with a petition signed by half of the voting members, followed by a motion to recall, which must receive support from three-fourths of the quorum.
Noel filed an appeal, as well as accused the executive board of acting unconstitutionally. He believes they did not follow this procedure correctly and they made a decision without all the members of Student Congress present, though the Constitution states Student Congress has “full authority” before the first meeting of the year.
“That was unconstitutional because the only people that can take someone out of office are the people that put them there,” Noel said.
Although Ross L. Pike, Student Congress Parliamentarian, is charged with interpreting the constitution, and he says full authority is just that, there are strong enough differences for the advisor to get involved and make a decision as to whether the students acted constitutionally.
Sara Dorer, who is slated to take over for Eric Mullen, director of Student Life, as Student Congress advisor in October, is reluctant to make a decision as to whether the recall procedure was constitutional because she is so new to the process.
“I have met with everybody to understand the perspectives from everyone, so what I will be doing is meeting with Eric to review the recall process used, to verify it followed the laws and constitution in place,” Dorer said. “If the recall is legitimate, then he will be removed.”
Mullen was not available for comment.
Until a decision has been made, Noel’s fellow executive board members will recognize him as vice president.
“Based on inconsistencies in the Constitution and Bylaws, Jeffrey has not been recalled,” White said.
All parties agree—the effort to recall Noel began when he sent an email to Pike asking him to resign.
This is when the petition was signed over a “misuse of power,” according to Pike, though Noel says he was not sending the email as vice president, but just as a person.
“I was personally requesting him (Pike), as a person, to step down because we weren’t able to work together,” Noel said. “It was simply just to be done with it (the feuding). We need the board to stand together.”
Last spring, Noel and Pike ran against each other for the office of vice president, and Noel won the election.
The reason why Noel says he asked Pike to step down rather than stepping down himself is because he believes the method of Pike’s appointment to Parliamentarian was unconstitutional, while Noel says he was voted into the office of Vice President fairly. He said that to disregard the almost 300 people that voted for him by stepping down would not be right.
However, Dorer sees the matter differently, and her final decision is what will be upheld.
“I personally didn’t find information to suggest that Ross’ position wasn’t done appropriately,” Dorer said.
Though the recall is pending, every member of the executive board has expressed the desire to recall Noel, shown by their signing of the petition. There is one member in particular who will not stand Noel being kept in office.
Anthony Provenzano, Student Congress Budget Director, is the person who brought forth the motion to recall Noel and has threatened more than his resignation if the recall doesn’t pass.
“At this point, I am considering removing myself from GRCC as a whole, not just Student Congress,” Provenzano said.
As for the feuding, he is ready for it to be over. He said constant feuding between Noel and Pike prevented the executive board from getting work done over the summer.
There has been at least one special meeting concerning this matter that Noel and Pike were not informed of and not allowed to attend, this one occurring before the executive board meeting Thursday.
“Things are getting very dirty very quickly,” Pike said.
Editor’s note: Ross L. Pike is the former news editor of the Collegiate.