ISS holds hearing, votes to keep Wilson in the SEC

Graduate student Mike Wilson kept his job Wednesday night after an Illinois Student Senate hearing of whether he disregarded his responsibilities as the chairman of the senate’s Student Election Commission.

Wilson’s status was called into question after a mass e-mail relevant to the upcoming student elections didn’t reach graduate students until several days after it arrived for undergraduate students.

Wilson was called upon to explain why the message was tardy and answer questions from senate members. His position as chair of the SEC was at stake.

“We thought we sent the mail to all undergraduates and graduates, but we forgot to click ‘Graduates,'” Wilson said in front of the senate. “It was a complete oversight. We completely forgot.”

Yet, some senate members believed that the mistake made it too difficult for graduate students to submit election forms and run in the upcoming elections.

“This is more or less that you have an obligation to fulfill certain requirements,” said Jason Webber, a graduate student and co-author of the resolution calling for Wilson’s testimony and potential removal. “Whether it was intentional or not, we feel that the delay caused to the grad students could be disenfranchising.”

“Do you think that’s worth firing me for?” Wilson replied. “I can tell you that this type of behavior is going to deter anyone from doing SEC again. Would you want to be fired for sending an e-mail? We’re volunteers.”

He added that the deadline – which was moved from Feb. 17 to Feb. 20 for graduates – gave them sufficient time to turn in the appropriate papers. He said that he had not had any correspondence with graduates who were worried about the arrival of the e-mail.

“There were administrators concerned, but we didn’t have evidence of grad students that were concerned about it,” Wilson said.

Wilson said that one of the contentious elements of the issue – the idea that the administration was trying to stifle graduate representation in the senate – was “conspiracy-making.”

“It’s an e-mail. The idea that we were trying to disenfranchise grad students is ludicrous,” Wilson said.

After more than an hour of questioning, senate members came to somewhat of a consensus.

“Really, I think this is a waste of time,” said Justin Umlah, a graduate student and student senator. “I know it’s in our constitution, but this is ridiculous.”

Vikram Chaudhery, vice-president external of the senate and a senior in Engineering, said no one was injured too badly by the mistake.

“If you look at it at the end of the day, the people being affected by this decision did not get hurt,” he said.

The senate voted 1-33 with 1 abstention against removing the chairs of the SEC from their posts.