President Harris Response to Judicial Investigation F-2-11:
Investigation of Summer Session Ethics and Violations
NOTE: ASSOU President Hassan Harris has since been cleared of any and all charges.
Each of the following charges against me, even if found to be true and accurate, I do not believe are impeachable offences, on their own or combined as noted in Judicial Investigation F-2-11. The following are my responses to each of the charges against me.
- Irresponsible use of Student Fee
- Disregard of Timesheet review, resulted in unauthorized expenditures sending the budget into overage by $ 593.00
- Unauthorized use of Student Fee money for travel to a Conference in Florida, resulting in almost $ 4,000.00 of unsanctioned funds being spent on travel for two students
- Professional staff was hired to insure the compliance of federal and state payroll procedures whom I trusted to quickly and efficiently complete the scope of their position, which included time sheet review. I did not feel it was necessary to re-review or micromanage their position, although when time allowed I did indeed review timesheets as necessary. At the first sign of employee(s) misrepresenting their actual time worked through the review process, the employee(s) found to be in violation were terminated.
- The use of Student Fee monies for travel to the United States Student Association (USSA) Conference in Florida was not unauthorized. It was however a universal [across the board] accounting error in which Vice President Stuckey and myself did not realize that payment for travel to the conference should have occurred in the same month (August 2011) and fiscal year in which the conference occurred, causing a line item overage that was later corrected through journal entries to the Student Fee accounting books and 2012 budget.
***This charge has been reviewed and it is my understanding that Senate continues to question why I am included in this charge when Vice President Stuckey addressed the issue with both Judicial and Senate at a previous date.
- Absence of consistency of voting in Advisory Council
- Utilitarian approach by President Harris of (AC)
- Disregard of Procedural advice given by the Chief Justice at that time
- Continuing an Advisory Council meeting after quorum was broken, in violation of public meeting law
- Instructing the AC, after quorum was broken, that they had been informed of relevant decisions and no voting was needed
- Utilitarianism is an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall “happiness” – I have tried to work with the best interests of the student body always in mind, I will not refute this charge.
- Procedural advice by the Chief Justice was just that, advice [and his opinion], and not written law that was required to be upheld or performed. Advice by the Chief Justice was not, nor has it ever been, disregarded and in fact was always considered by the AC when members of all branches of government were present and able to voice their opinions on whatever topics and questions were being discussed. However, in my utilitarian approach as previously noted by the Chief Justice, advice given may or may not have been acted upon depending on the foreseen outcomes of such advice and opinion on the AC and the greater student body.
- A quorum is only required for the start of a meeting and to hold a vote. Should a member of the AC excuse them self during a meeting there is no reason to stop the meeting, regardless of weather the remaining members constitute a quorum. However, no voting ever took place without a quorum present.
- Other Procedural Issues
- No formal meeting minutes taken for Summer Staff, when President Harris stated on numerous occasions that the Executive Branch would construct a binder of ALL Summer Staff meetings. ***Personal binder handed over to Judicial does not qualify as FORMAL meeting minutes, minutes need approval and none do per personal binder
- Failure to subject new hires to vetting by appropriate ASSOU body, despite senates wish to confirm all employees
- Failure to open summer staff positions to all ASSOU members and students at large
- Summer Staff was not a formal committee required to have weekly meetings. However, we as a staff decided to have regular informal staff meetings in order to keep pace with all projects and priorities and to have a sense of accountability. I agreed to provide Justice with my personal binder of notes from these meetings and all projects and priorities that were worked on by Summer Staff. As Summer Staff was not a committee with an elected secretary, it was not appropriate nor was it required for formal meeting minutes to be taken or approved by any vote.
- During the Summer Staff session of 2011 the Vice President became ill and was unable to work [per doctor’s orders] as her treatment was taking place in Portland; furthermore, both the Treasurer and Director of Student Affairs had to resign for personal reasons. This left three positions unfilled at a time when Senate was not present to conduct any hearings or interviews for vetting purposes. However, Speaker Roque was on campus and understood the importance of filling the positions in order to avoid further delay to Summer Staff projects and priorities. The AC was informed by Speaker Roque and myself (constituting a quorum) of the intention to hire people to temporarily fill the three above-mentioned positions until such time Vice President Stuckey was able to return to campus and the candidates for Treasurer and Director of Student Affairs could be approved by Senate.
- It is not written in the SOU constitution that staff positions are to be opened to students at large. However, all students have the ability to apply for a leadership position at their own discretion, at which time all applications for a position are considered (as necessary) or voted upon by the student body.