Whatcomgate: Conflicts and resignations plague student council

by Katy Kappele

Horizon Reporter

At least two student council members have resigned in the past quarter, and the president of the Associated Students of Whatcom Community College (ASWCC), citing tensions with advisers, said he intends to resign at the end of the quarter.

Student council members Melisa Nelson and Tiana Powell resigned early in the quarter.  Nelson said in an email that she and Powell resigned for “personal reasons,” but would not specify those reasons.

Isaac Shantz-Kreutzkamp, ASWCC president, said that he was asked to step down several times in the past quarter, and that he  felt uncomfortable doing so, but will be resigning at the end of the quarter.

Jordan Dykstra, representative at large of the ASWCC, said that he is resigning for academic reasons, citing the amount of time needed for his studies.

Shantz-Kreutzkamp said that he would not comment on the resignations of Nelson and Powell, because it was unprofessional.  He said he is “unwilling to tell their story because they’re unwilling to,” and noted that they stepped down shortly after an incident in the council early in the quarter.

However, Shantz-Kreutzkamp made it clear that he is resigning because of tension in the council, resulting from a conflict with advisers over the allocation of some funds.  Also, Shantz-Kreutzkamp said he felt that the request of the council’s advisers for the student life section to attend “sensitivity training” was unnecessary.

Shantz-Kreutzkamp said the tension started with the Ethnic Students Association’s request for $4,000.  The council was new and untrained, and some of the proceedings did not go as well as advisers would have liked, he said. The council was asked to apologize, as advisers felt they were being “culturally insensitive.”  Shantz-Kreutzkamp did not agree.

Morgan Hein, the ASWCC technology coordinator, agreed with the sequence of events.  “Probably the tension started after ESA (Ethnic Student Association) requested a large amount of money during the beginning of the year and we had not properly been trained,” he said.

Laura Singletary, a student council advisor, said that “nobody’s talked to me about any tensions.”  Singletary also said she didn’t wish to comment further, because she wants to respect where the students are coming from, and not create more of an issue.

Singletary also said that “there’s no such thing as sensitivity training,” and that this was a misunderstanding of students being offered tools to help them learn.

“We want them to make mistakes,” Singletary said, because the council is a forum where students can do so and not have any real-life consequences like a loss of job.

Singletary said that she was sad about the resignations because Powell and Nelson “were good leaders and genuinely good people.”

Stacey McGee, the ESA president, said in a phone interview that the ESA was denied any money last year, so this year they very carefully prepared a budget that was passed.  However, she was not pleased with the attitude of the council members, and agreed with the assessment that they were “culturally insensitive.”

“It was a much bigger issue,” McGee said.  “It was indicative of a much larger conversation that needs to happen between the student council and the student body.”
Krysta Walia, the ESA advisor, could not be reached for comment by press time.

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