Byll-Cataria leads discussion of AASU, students unhappy with result

Spinnaker

In the aftermath of the African American Student Union members’ Feb. 16 protest, Student Body President Sitou Byll-Cataria called a special meeting Feb. 18 to discuss the recent hiring of Torey McCleskey as the AASU’s assistant director.

Over 32 AASU members marched around campus to protest the hiring of McCleskey, who is white, and argued McCleskey was chosen based on his race and not his qualifications.

The meeting was called so past and present members of AASU could ask Byll-Cataria, Senate President Carlo Fassi and Chief Justice Matt Yost questions concerning McCleskey’s hiring. Over 80 students attended.

Byll-Cataria spoke of his rights as student body president, citing Article III of SG’s constitution, which states the president has the authority to hire whomever he feels can best fit the jobs in the executive cabinet, which directors and assistant directors of SG agencies are a part of.

Fassi also clarified statements he made at the Feb. 14 senate meeting, when he said he wouldn’t take the AASU members’ judgement seriously. He apologized and said he did not mean to offend.

Byll-Cataria further emphasized his hiring of McCleskey is part of his new vision for AASU. Byll-Cataria said AASU is not benefiting enough people and it needs to branch out in its cultural awareness strategies.

“We need to leave this university learning something,” Byll-Cataria said. “I need you guys to make him feel like home.”

The time limit for the forum was set to one hour, but it was extended after students complained Byll-Cataria spoke too long — for roughly 30 minutes before opening the floor for questions.

Byll-Cataria said he is not changing his mind and wants students to welcome change and diversity.

“It might not be what you want to hear, but it’s the facts. It is what is written,” he said. “I didn’t make the law, I’m just using the law.”

Students and alumni were given a maximum of two minutes to ask their questions and speak to the SG representatives. Many students voiced their displeasure at the forum.

“You’re not serving these students because they don’t agree with what you’re trying to do,” said psychology freshman Linnay Bennett. “So how do you expect us to follow you and trust you?”

Byll-Cataria eventually had to leave to catch a flight.

“That’s terribly convenient,” said Frank Goodin, a founder of AASU and communications alumnus.

Goodin, as well as several other members of AASU, said the agency’s bylaws are not being followed.

Monique May, a communications senior, told CBS Action News she was unhappy with how SG representatives dealt with the AASU members’ feedback.

“It’s not done, I don’t feel like we were really respected as far as our opinion today,” May said.