Director of Residency Dozmen Lee unleashed a string of criticisms of Student Government and Senate Speaker Cody Woodruff on his Snapchat story Tuesday, leading Woodruff to issue an ultimatum to President Julian Neely: “Julian needs to remove [Lee], and if Julian doesn’t, Senate will.”
Woodruff has called an emergency Senate meeting, tentatively set for Saturday, in which the Senate will debate overturning an executive order which would remove Lee from his position.
Neely has said he will not remove Lee because he sees no grounds to do so based on the 11-minute Snapchat video. Woodruff said he and Neely have not spoken about the event since he issued the ultimatum via email.
“I think [removing Lee] is not right in the sense that he has the right to freedom of speech and being [able] to say whatever he wants to say, especially if it was not threatening or anything of that sort, and his message wasn’t,” Neely said. “He has the right to state his opinion, his thoughts, his feelings. That is his constitutional right.”
Woodruff said he is disappointed in Neely’s lack of response.
In the video, Lee accused Woodruff, who is running for Student Government president, of not caring about students and only seeking to further his own political ambitions, rather than representing Iowa State students.
“That man does not stand for you,” Lee said in reference to Woodruff’s campaign slogan, “I Stand for U.”
Woodruff described Lee’s portrayal of Student Government as “wildly inaccurate and incredibly unfair,” and said watching the video felt like “watching a car crash when you are in the car.”
In separate interviews, Woodruff and Lee both said their relationship has always been strained, each referencing their first one-on-one meeting at the start of the fall 2017 semester, where Lee called Woodruff a “snake.”
Lee said in their first meeting he told Woodruff, “I really want to like you because I think you’re a genius.”
Lee repeated this sentiment in his video and later said his admiration for Woodruff’s intelligence makes him even more disappointed in Woodruff’s behavior.
Woodruff said last year, he and then-Speaker Zoey Shipley had multiple conversations with then-Sen. Lee about “the environment he was fostering and the attitude he had.” Upon Lee’s confirmation for director of residency this year, Woodruff said Neely had assured him Lee would be “kept in control.”
“That’s almost what’s most frustrating,” Woodruff said. “I can take the attacks on myself, I knew [Lee] didn’t like me … the fact that consistently nothing has been done.”
Lee attended Wednesday’s Student Government meeting to speak in open forum, where he reaffirmed the opinions expressed in his Snapchat post and read an email from former student senator Hannah Scott. In the email, Scott said senators often make each other feel “guilty or potentially even feel idiotic” for voting a certain way.
Lee said he believes Senate has a “clique problem” that has created a voting bloc, with Woodruff at the head.
“We don’t feel comfortable speaking sometimes because [Woodruff] is so aggressive,” Lee said. “He’s hostile, and it’s like if you oppose him, everyone attacks you.”
Woodruff said this may have been a fair assessment of him when he served as vice speaker last year, but he believes he has grown in his role as speaker.
“Zoey and I were young when we were speaker and vice speaker, and we thought we had to be very – I think ‘aggressive’ is a fair term – tough on senators otherwise they wouldn’t respect us,” Woodruff said.
Senators at the meeting expressed frustration with the way Lee presented his opinions, though some said they agreed with what he said about the climate of Student Government.
Sen. Anne Miller said while she thinks Lee acted immaturely, she also said she “agree with everything [Lee is] saying in terms of the substance from it,” but she thinks there are “different ways to get people’s respect.”
Sen. Ihssan Ait Boucherbil said she doesn’t believe Lee should should apologize for anything he said or did.
Woodruff said Student Government can be “cliquey,” but as speaker he tries to encourage senators to sit in different places and “mix the mentors and mentees up” to combat the issue.
Other senators, such as Sen. Kaitlyn Sanchez, said they don’t believe Student Government has a clique problem.
Woodruff asked Lee in Senate open forum if Lee had approached him this semester about his opinions individually before posting them on social media and if he believes Woodruff should resign from his post.
Lee said he did not approach Woodruff individually this semester and does not know if he believes Woodruff should resign.
Woodruff then asked Lee if Lee could forgive him. Lee told Woodruff he could forgive him and Woodruff said he forgave Lee, as well.
After leaving the meeting, Lee said he had not expected Woodruff to ask for forgiveness and had instead expected anger.
“He knew he hurt me,” Lee said. “He knows that, but maybe he didn’t know how badly he did.”
In his closing remarks at the meeting, Woodruff called for an emergency Senate meeting and said he believes Lee’s removal is an urgent matter, larger than his own dispute with Lee.
“In my email to President Neely, I said, ‘in all honesty this should have been done a long time ago,” Woodruff said. “I’ve met with President Neely multiple times, as well as multiple senators that were on Residency Committee. They all resigned en masse this morning due to his rant on Snapchat. I wrongly assumed President Neely would take the correct action by this point.”