After a turbulent week in Student Government, the chief officers met Saturday to learn about each others’ perspectives and work on a plan to move forward.
The chief officers — President Julian Neely, Chief of Staff Liera Bender, Finance Director Seth Carter, Speaker Cody Woodruff, Vice Speaker Kelsey Culbertson and Vice President Juan Bibiloni, who facilitated the meeting alongside Student Government’s adviser Keith Robinder — said in the statement they “strive to be welcoming, accessible, transparent and fully inclusive,” and believe they have made progress but “still have much work to do.”
Neely and Woodruff each said the meeting was productive.
“There was a lot of listening and a lot of, I think, better understanding where each side was coming from,” Woodruff said.
Previously in a group chat for the chief officers, they discussed the impending snowstorm, and Neely asked Woodruff if he felt an emergency senate meeting was the most appropriate way to handle the situation with Director of Residency Dozmen Lee. Woodruff said he was unsure, so the group canceled the meeting shortly before 5:30 p.m.
“We want to make sure it’s handled appropriately and everyone has been given a fair chance to have their voices heard,” Woodruff said. “We first, in order to make the most appropriate and the best action on this particular situation, we as chief officers needed to come together and clear the air, and I think we’ve done that.”
At the meeting, the group discussed communication issues between the two branches as well as the debate surrounding Lee.
Neely said he pushed for the resolution to remove Lee from his position be postponed indefinitely, and the group contacted Sen. Jacob Schrader, who wrote the bill and agreed with the chief officers’ decision.
The bill to remove Lee describes him as “abrasive” and details several instances where other members of Student Government and the Ames community were unhappy with his behavior.
Woodruff said he emphasized the bill to remove Lee did not stem from the Snapchat incident — rather, the Snapchat caused a group of senators to “snap.” Woodruff said he believed the other chief officers were receptive to his feelings.
Neely said moving forward, he will ensure the group will remain as transparent as possible, but a smaller chief officers meeting in place of a full Student Government meeting helped them set up a framework.
“We wanted to meet and kind of detail out a plan that we could offer to everyone,” Neely said. “We wanted to have something as a foundation when we start having these conversations with everyone there — Senate, Cabinet, community members and students.”
Moving forward, removal is still an option for Lee. The chief officers will meet again Friday, first only with each other, then with Lee and their advisers and hopefully eventually with the legislative and executive branches “to allow everyone to converse and share their perspectives,” according to the statement.
“We still have over a month in these roles, and we can get a lot of work done in that time, so we need to make sure those relationships are as strong as possible while also acknowledging we’re still going to disagree over the next month and a half on issues like this one,” Woodruff said.