Following Monday’s Associated Students of Central Washington University (ASCWU) meeting, board members have made plans to move forward with the process of a recall election of President Ryan Anderson, as laid out in the student government by-laws.
This decision was made after months of dispute between ASCWU board members and Anderson, dating back to November. The quarrel deals with Anderson overstepping his bounds as president and his lack of involvement with staff, according to letters written by officers and staff of ASCWU.
“I don’t know how he expects to be our leader. We do not support him,” said Hauke Harfst, the ASCWU’s vice president of academic affairs, in an interview after the meeting. “Right now it just seems like he’s just trying to fight us to fight the fight.”
The by-laws state that the board would need signatures totaling 75 percent of the number of students who voted in that office’s election, which would be around 1,200.
From there, an elections coordinator must validate the signatures. Then a hearing would be held by the Council of Probity, which oversees ASCWU’s by-laws and any disputes.
According to the by-laws, it would be up to the council to vote whether or not to move forward. They would then hold a special election where a majority vote would dictate Anderson’s future.
Anderson said in a phone interview on Tuesday that he plans to stay in office through this process.
“I’m still president until recalled,” he said. “I still have the same duties I was elected to do.”
In a letter sent to Anderson on Feb. 1, the board asked their president to resign.
“On numerous occasions, Ryan Anderson has failed to fulfill the responsibilities clearly outlined in the ASCWU Constitution and By-Laws,” the letter said.
Letters drafted by the ASCWU, emails and individual letters from the board.
The letter stated that if Anderson chose not to resign, the board members would pursue further action. Anderson declined to resign and refuted their claims in a letter of his own.
Anderson’s letter prompted the board to move forward with a vote of no confidence during Monday’s meeting. The vote passed 5-0.
This vote publicly declares their lack of confidence in Anderson’s ability as president, but does not restrict his duties as president, both Anderson and the board said.
“It’s just a formal statement that they have no confidence in my ability to lead,” Anderson said. “It divides the board now.”
Monday’s meeting took place in front of about 75 students, which was the highest attended meeting all year, student government officers later said.
During the latter half, the board read out loud two letters previously sent to Anderson in November and February that outlined their concerns. The letters contained a list of improvements they would like to see, including working collaboratively and not overstepping his duties.
After the vote, students provided feedback during a public comment period on the decision to call for Anderson’s resignation. Many students said they wanted to hear definitive examples of Anderson’s alleged shortcomings.
“In the letters that were read, I heard a lot of reasons why they don’t want Ryan to be president anymore. I didn’t hear a lot of facts,” said Grace, one of the students attending the meeting. “I’m sure there are, but I would encourage all of you, if this is to come to a recall vote, to ask for that to be made public so we can all make a better decision on that.”
A response from Ryan Anderson about the legitimacy of one of the email conversations found in PDFs released by the ASCWU.
Nina Caldwell told students the ASCWU can and will release the documents to the public on the issues with Anderson.
“We’re here for you,” Caldwell said. “We’re here for students.”
About 20 people talked during the public comment portion of the meeting; a majority of the students were not in favor of recalling Anderson.
Rene Mahnke said in an interview after the meeting that they did not want to give definitive examples because ASCWU board members did not want to tarnish Anderson’s reputation or go back and forth in a public argument.