By ANDREW CRIDER & MATT McALOON
The Board of Visitors met for their last regular business meeting until this summer on Thursday, April 16 and Friday, April 17. The meeting included an update on the sexual misconduct policy, disagreement over divestment and the announcement of President Hurley’s retirement.
The meeting took place at the Jepson Alumni Executive Center and involved a number of presentations and reports involving regular end of the semester topics such as budget and finance reports before ending with a protest from DivestUMW.
At the start of the first day, the members of the board came into conflict over what was said during the last meeting of the BOV. The executive committee voted to reject the creation of a divestment subcommittee, a move that sparked numerous rallies around campus and the DivestUMW sit-in at George Washington Hall that ended with the arrest of three DivestUMW members.
BOV members Edd Houck and Carlos Del Toro, in particular, argued that the minutes from the last BOV meeting, and thus the ruling on divestment, did not represent the will of the entire board.
“I’m offended by statements that this is the opinion of the BOV,” Houck said. “I spoke out in support of… a divestment subcommittee and that is not reflected here.”
Del Toro also believed that the board still has work to do on the issue of divestment and said that, “I as one member of this board, think additional recommendations should be made considering divestment.”
Del Toro went on to say that he wanted further discussion of divestment, adding that, “I believe I am not alone in this opinion.”
At the time of the meeting, less than 24 hours after the arrest of DivestUMW members, University Faculty chair Jodie Hayob said 76 emails had been sent to her by faculty in support of DivestUMW.
“As a scientist, climate change not just a social issue. A human issue, a financial issue,” Hayob said.
The minutes were passed with corrections to reflect the disagreement.
Rector Holly Cuellar, whose actions have been speculated as being anti-divest by some, believes that the debate of the minutes was normal and healthy.
“I believe that all BOV members serve to advance the University. Discussion and debate are a normal part of any governing board’s deliberation,” Cuellar said.
Cuellar went on to disclaim the idea that she was responsible for the rejection of the divestment subcommittee.
“The President’s Council on Sustainability will be the committee that makes the recommendations on the University’s sustainability issues and policies.” Cuellar said.
The BOV went on to eliminate the standardized test requirement for new student applications who have a GPA of 3.5 or higher, hear an update on a/the sexual misconduct policy, and propose figures on budget cuts.
However, divest became an issue for the BOV again on Friday when a DivestUMW march ended with a protest at the Jepson Alumni Executive Center .
The BOV meeting ended early on friday, and certain DivestUMW members believe that this was an effort by Cuellar to dodge the planned protest. This allegation comes after rumors that Cuellar had purposely proposed the minutes to project her will on the board. DivestUMW had been in conflict with Cuellar since she moved that the executive committee reject divest.
DivestUMW member and junior Rabib Hasan, is among those who believe Cuellar is covering up the process by which the subcommittee on divestment was rejected.
“We see some very not democratic procedures going through place and it looks like its mainly directed through intentions of rector cuellar,” Hasan said..
For Hasan, the deliberation during the meetings reflects a more honest debate.
“It became very transparent the way certain board members dealt with issues on campus and it really exposed a lot of malpractice thats been going on in the body,” Hasan said.
According to Hasan, the meeting ended early on Friday in order to avoid protest.
“We were able to get them [protesters] to the meeting despite Rector Cuellar rushing the minutes,” Hasan said.
According to Student Liaison to the BOV and SGA President, Hannah Tibbett, the brevity in Friday’s presentation was not due to an effort to avoid DivestUMW protest, but a result to Friday presentations, as meetings during that day often ending more quickly.
“I think it was just everyone did not use the full 10 minutes they were allotted,” Tibbett said.
Tibbett does not think that Rector Cuellar dominated the conversation when people have spoken with her about divesting.
“I can say that when discussion was going on about divest, she let everyone speak, she did not cut anyone off and she did not let one person dominate the conversation,” Tibbett said.
Tibbett went on to say that there was no wrong-doing by board members who left during Fridays protest.
“I can’t say that I would necessarily approach them because it would be one person versus 40 or 50….I think the BOV were purposely put in a uncomfortable situation, which is fine,” Tibbett said. “No one left early, the meeting had been adjourned, and they just packed up their stuff and left.”
According to Cuellar, Friday’s meeting ended early as result of efficiency.
“My priority is to complete the business of the board as efficiently and effectively as possible. That goal was accomplished and the BOV adjourned,” Cuellar said.
When asked if the BOV has done everything in the proper order to ensure elaborate discussion of divest has taken place Cuellar replied, “Yes.”