VP makes allegations, resigns


NICK FISHER, Executive Editor

Northern Iowan Student Government Vice President Renae Beard abruptly resigned yesterday at the regular Senate meeting. Senator Heather Applegate also resigned. Both announced their intentions with short statements at the end of the meeting.

Further details were not available as of press time.

Both resignations come on the heels of allegations leveled at NISG President Katie Evans.

On Nov. 11, NISG Senate voted against convening a committee to investigate allegations against Evans — allegations of “abuse of power, unethical behavior, tardiness, absence, alcohol use [and] negligence,” according to the bill drafted by senators Jeremy Rosel, Applegate, Natalie Kaufman and Rachel Larsen.

The vote was 15-4-2 against the formation of the senator-led investigative committee.

Evans said she first heard about the possibility of a proposed bill around Nov. 8.

“When I first found out, I was really just shocked more than anything,” Evans said. “Later, and as a few more details surrounding the situation came out, I was sad. But I continued doing my job and prepared a statement to give to senate if and when it got brought up.”

According to speaker Parker Bennett, a reasonable timeline for the investigation would have put the final hearing, involving Evans herself, at mid-January. Campaigning for student body elections usually begins in early February, with elections later that month.

Danielle Massey, NISG senator, stated that members of the upper cabinet (who cannot bring about a vote of impeachment, as that power is reserved for senators) approached senators about grievances regarding Evans’ conduct, behavior and other issues and communication problems they had with her.

Massey said Beard compiled a list of grievances against Evans as well. Requests by the Northern Iowan to obtain this list have gone unanswered thus far. Beard did not provide comment at the senate meeting Nov. 11 and did not reply to the NI’s request for comment.

“I have never seen the list or had any one of the sponsors or Renae mention any particular grievances to me,” Evans said in regards to the existence of the list.

Bennett asked that debate on the formation of the committee refrain from citing specific allegations due to both the personal nature of the claims and the fact that the they hadn’t been investigated.

Elizabeth Lynch, director of governmental relations, spoke to the reasons for the bill.

“There have been unethical behaviors and abuse of power,” Lynch said. “Whether or not these are grounds of impeachment is up to the investigative committee.”

Bennett provided a statement at the end of the debate session, just prior to a roll call vote on the matter.

“I do not believe breaking policy equates to unethical behavior or an abuse of power,” Bennett said. “There are nuances.”

Bennett voted “no” on the bill.

Sarah Hofmeyer, senator, said the claims were isolated to the upper cabinet.

“A lot of these issues … get to the senators through second and third hand,” Hofmeyer said. “It is remarkably gossipy.”

Applegate, who volunteered for Evans’ and Beards’ campaign and co-sponsored the bill, read a statement from a student at the beginning of the debate session. The student was concerned with the expenditure of senate resources in investigating claims.

“The biggest resource being strained is senator time,” Applegate said.

“I understand how much time this takes, but there was an oath made to represent the student body and make NISG a great resource for students on campus,” said Kaufman, who also co-sponsored the bill. “This is a big issue, and requires a large amount of time. If we truly believe that this is the right thing to do, the time is necessary.”

Much of the discussion was devoted to whether the investment of senator time and energy is a duty, or whether investigation would take away from other projects. Several senators felt the investigation would draw attention away from “real” issues, such as discrimination on campus.

“I do not care to spend any more of my time [on the allegations against Evans] when discrimination occurs on campus,” said senator Shera Steere. “We can hold people accountable, but if we do not attend to minority students’ needs, then I don’t care about anything else the student government does. This is not as important as discrimination of fellow students.”

Students such Jordan Petersen, senior public relations and Spanish major, felt NISG should focus on discrimination on campus.

“As a student, it is concerning that communication issues are taking precedent to much larger issues on campus,” Petersen said.

Another student, who did not identify himself, said “it is important to look at the authenticity and genuineness of a claim like this.”

Hansen Breitling, director of diversity, said that, “objectively,” the investigation would take away from his own work — he said the process had already caused him to divide his time.

“I’m glad you felt that this past week [of reviewing the impeachment procedures] was productive,” he said, addressing other senators. “ But I don’t [think it was productive]. I’m not glad this has occurred.”

Paul Andersen, former NISG vice president, urged senators to not vote to form the committee.

“Most of these issues are personally related and communication-based,” Andersen said. “This impeachment process will not successfully address these issues. Even outside of my time, administration members still recognize the executive officers, and are questioning validity due to rumors. Bringing in a new vice president and president this late in the year would not successfully carry out programs. There are better ways to address issues.”

Senator Aaron Friel, who voted “yes” to forming the investigative committee, said the investigation process would “not tie up resources outside the investigative committee,” which would have been five senators.

Senator Tristan Bernhard, who was newly elected a few weeks ago, said that the investigation would be an investment of “human capital,” would take too much time and that impeachment was an aggressive course of action. He said the process would stress senators even more with finals coming up. He also said that electing a vice president (as the VP would step in and assume the presidency) would occur when NISG has already spent the majority of its budget.

“[I think this] and I know the least about how NISG operates,” Bernhard said. “So take that into consideration.”

Evans said there was hostility between her and the upper cabinet prior to learning of the proposed vote, particularly between her and Beard. In her statement to the senate she expressed “filling sick” at the thought of going into work.

But Evans said she acknowledges responsibility for this tension as well.

“Moving forward, I plan to step up and provide the guidance the upper cabinet is looking for and look for any other ways to improve,” Evans said following the vote. “This was a stressful process for all parties, and it has certainly affected trust within our organization. But trust can be rebuilt and I do hope everyone is able to continue in a positive way.”