Removal of SAFAC Chair Allie Gaylord

The decision to remove Allie Gaylord as Student Activities Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC) Chair by Student Senate inspired students and alumni to take to social media with their thoughts.

The meeting where the removal took place was livestreamed on Feb. 19. (Student Senate meetings started being livestreamed on Feb. 12 to allow off campus or busy students to listen in.) Different fund allocations for clubs and the status of approval or denial were discussed.

There was an emphasis placed on Students United and the denial of their spontaneous allocation request of over $300 for a conference. SAFAC granted Student United $215 of their requests. It did not go to Student Senate for a vote because only allocations of $300 or more require their approval, but it was included in the SAFAC report. There were strong feelings regarding this among some senators.

About a third of the way through the meeting, Vice President Donavan Phoenix introduced the motion. It is unclear who wrote the motion because it was passed to Phoenix from off-camera, however the minutes stated that Senators Samuel Wreh and Sandra Shimba moved the motion.

“’I motion for a vote of no confidence in Allie Gaylord of SAFAC Chair based on the following…’” read Phoenix. “This motion is not valid,” said Phoenix. “Allie’s position is not voted on or appointed by us. Her position is voted on by SAFAC itself. We have no jurisdiction for that, so this motion, before it is even official, is not valid.”

Senator Sandra Shimba then took the opportunity to disagree, claiming that the Student Senate constitution gives them the power to remove the SAFAC Chair. Article 20; Section 4; Sub-Section H states “[t]he Chair may be removed upon a vote of ‘no confidence’ by SAFAC or a 2/3rds vote of the Senate.”

Scott Crowell, the advisor to Student Senate, stepped in to share a clarification.
“Please understand, Allie is not SAFAC herself,” said Crowell. “She’s here representing SAFAC, she is the leader of that group. She may not even agree with some of it herself, but she still has to represent SAFAC. “She brings it forward, she represents the group and answers the questions that were discussed and decided on within SAFAC.”

Shimba was called on again to share her thoughts.

“There is something that really hurt me personally as a senator,” said Shimba. “I heard from somebody, that I want to keep the name [confidential], that Chair Gaylord said about the Senate and that’s why I feel she does not represent…” Gaylord interjected to ask about the alleged derogatory remark, but apologized and allowed Shimba to continue.
“So, Chair Gaylord talked to somebody and said that the Senate, excuse my term, was shit,” said Shimba. “I feel as a senator, I really feel that this is not the correct way, whether she is ok with what we do or not. Based on that, I really feel do not feel that she is a very good representative of SAFAC.”

Gaylord was then allowed to respond to the allegation.
“I did not say that to anybody,” said Gaylord. “Sometimes, yes, I do get frustrated just with how sometimes questions from you guys feels like you’re attacking me in my job. But I have not spoken poorly on Senate’s behalf.” Phoenix then corrected himself that it is within Student Senate’s jurisdiction to vote for the removal of the SAFAC Chair according to its constitution. The motion was moved by Senator Samuel Wreh and seconded by Shimba. It was then read in full.

According to the minutes from the meeting, the motion cited three reasons for a vote of no confidence in Allie Gaylord as SAFAC Chair.

“Chair Gaylord has acted against the best interest of of the student government through her actions in recent weeks. By doing so, Chair Gaylord has brought the Student Association into the state of being held in low esteem by the public. “Chair Gaylord was heard to have made derogatory remarks toward the Senate in public.
“Appropriation of spontaneous request funds have been inconsistent and detrimental to the success of the Student Association.”

Senator Brock Fox shared his thoughts against the motion.
“I understand that you [Shimba] might have heard that from a very reliable source, but we can’t just remove someone just because of what we heard,” said Fox. “I mean, did any of you [gesturing to other senators] hear that? From the outside looking in, it seems like, ‘We didn’t get what we wanted, so now we’re gonna use this power to punish them for not giving us what we wanted. I just think we can’t do this.”
Wreh was called on to respond.

“I have nothing personally against Allie, I have no reason to be mad at her,” said Wreh. “Whatever is going on with Student United, matter of fact, I am not even going this weekend.

“Like she [Shimba] said, from her source, the person is credible. There is no reason why this person would come up and say, ‘Allie said’ what she said. They have nothing against her. Based on the environment right now, you [Fox] were right to say that we don’t know what happened and now we cannot get mad at her. It’s not, ‘Let’s kick her out.’”

After more deliberation, Student Senate voted 8 to 3 for the removal of Gaylord as the SAFAC Chair.

After the removal of Gaylord was passed, Crowell expressed his concerns moving forward.
“What happens now? This has never happened,” said Crowell. “Allie has been working on this for three, four months with Scott Ewing, so how it’s going to get done in a month and a half, I have no clue.”

Crowell stated that Student Senate is in a tough spot right now, and that he has hopes somebody has an idea on where to go from here.

It is possible that Gaylord did make derogatory comments. It is possible that senators who are also in Students United were upset about SAFAC’s decision about the funding for their trip and used their power in Senate to “punish” Gaylord.

It cannot be said for certain that either statement is true or untrue due to all the missing pieces of evidence, particularly the name of the person who claimed to have heard Gaylord’s alleged derogatory comments.

Students and alumni have taken to social media with their opinions and theories about the situation. Jeffery Mayfield, from the SMSU class of 2018, was one of them.

“I, as an alumni of SMSU am calling into question the character and accuse certain senators on the SMSU Student Senate, for having a personal vendetta/bias against SMSU SAFAC Chair Allie Gaylord, for breaking their own constitution, and for falsifying a ‘witness’ testimony,” wrote Mayfield. “Now I am all for protecting others but when you are calling into question the character of someone, you need to have without a doubt reasonable evidence that proves what was said/done.”

Amanda Stafford, a senior double majoring in Agricultural Communications & Leadership and Philosophy, also shared her thoughts on social media.

“To the best of my knowledge and with great confidence, I have no reason to believe Allie violated the duties of the Chair, nor should she be deemed unfit for the position,” wrote Stafford. “She is extremely well qualified and experienced. Therefore, believe the Senate clearly did not give enough thought, time, nor research into the proper use of this motion, as there is no known evidence of the duties, as stated above, to have been violated.”

Fox shared the livestream of the meeting on his Facebook profile.
“I feel that everyone concerned has every right to be upset regarding the outcome of said motion, and I do not believe that this passed motion is in any way a good move for our student body,” wrote Fox. “But before degrading the image of the student senate, please watch the entirety of this stream. NOT all senators voted for this motion to pass. The video clearly shows the disappointment of those who felt that a wrongful decision was made. With that being said PLEASE do not degrade the image of the student senate as a whole.

“I joined the student senate because I felt that I could help make SMSU a better place for current and future students, and despite the passed motion (WHICH AGAIN I DO NOT AGREE WITH), I still feel that through the student senate, I can help make SMSU a better place. When I was voted into student government, I viewed it as a prestigious accomplishment. I still feel the same way. I am STILL proud to be an SMSU student senator.”

A student who wishes to remain anonymous created a Facebook page called “Justice For Allie” to promote awareness of the circumstances around Gaylord’s removal and encourage students to share their thoughts. The page shared the posts of several students, including memes.

Additionally, The Spur reached out to all of the senators for their take. As of Feb. 26, two out of 11 senators responded: Senator Moshood Agboola and Magnuson. Agboola declined to comment to avoid a possible conflict of interest, as he has taken pictures for The Spur in the past.

“The reason I opposed the removal of SAFAC Chair Allie Gaylord is two fold [sic],” wrote Magnuson. “First, it comes right before budgeting will begin for Fiscal Year 2020. I feel that is important to keep her as chair because SAFAC is in the middle of a MAJOR budget crisis.

“The second reason I feel that it was wrong to remove her was that it was all based on hearsay [sic] and out of spite.

“I am not saying that they were influenced to vote this way because of the club they are in, but I don’t think that it is more then [sic] a coincidence that the vote was like this.”

The Student Senate meeting on Feb. 26 was set to appoint a new SAFAC Chair. SAFAC first nominated Gaylord to be reinstated. After much discussion from both members of Student Senate and the gallery, the motion failed. SAFAC then presented Ezekiel Thompson as their nomination for Chair. Again, even with much deliberation, the motion failed. After back and forth between all parties, a motion to adjourn the meeting early passed. Following the abrupt adjournment, there was a special private meeting that included only Student Senate members.

“Via special meeting called following the general meeting, a Chair for SAFAC was elected as well as approval for spontaneous request and SAFAC committee appointments,” said Student Senate Public Relations Coordinator Doria Drost.

A more detailed overview of the Feb. 26 Student Senate meeting will be published on The Spur website later this week. Be sure to follow The Spur on Facebook and Twitter for the updates on this and other issues.