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Azad reinstated as student body vice president, suspension lifted

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SGA Vice-President Taben Azad sits in his office. 

SGA Vice-President Taben Azad sits in his office. 

File Photo

File Photo

SGA Vice-President Taben Azad sits in his office. 

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Taben Azad’s interim suspension as student body vice president has been lifted. His suspension from his role as chief election commissioner is still in place “due to the immediacy of the election,” Azad said.

Azad said his suspension from the election commission would not be lifted because it is so close to the election next week. He is still being investigated for potential student code of conduct violations stemming from his involvement with the student group We The Students.

Azad said he was told he was suspended from his position as election commissioner when commission observers voiced concerns to Teri Hall about a perceived bias he had for Impact, a ticket running in the SGA elections. Several members of Impact were involved in the Mar. 14 We The Students sit-in protest at WSU President Bardo’s office. It was later revealed that Azad had been an administrator of the student group’s private Facebook page.

Two co-commissioners, Sam Belsan and Terence Truong, both students, have filled Azad’s position as chief election commissioner. Belsan works for The Sunflower.

Belsan and Truong were both election commission observers prior to their confirmations as co-commissioners. The faculty observer for the election commission, George Dehner, a faculty senate member from the history department, said at Monday’s faculty senate meeting that he was not consulted about the decision to suspend Azad or asked if he witnessed any bias before the decision was made.

This exchange between Dehner and Hall followed:

Dehner: If there’s a hearing about whether or not there’s a bias that’s being committed by the election commission — not the other issue about the vice president of the SGA — but the issue with regard to the election commission, the faculty observer should have been included in the discussion of the evidence. And if not invited to the meeting where there were personnel issues being discussed, at least his decision should have been solicited about ‘In your opinion do you think the election commission was biased?’

Hall: There are times when the university feels it should take interim measures, pending an investigation. So that is where we are. So you can participate in the investigation, you can be a witness if you would like to, you can be called as a witness.

Dehner: If there’s an investigation, why, at the very least, wasn’t the faculty observer — me — asked about whether or not I saw any bias? Because that is what I understood as part of my role: to be observing this process. My opinion on the matter was never solicited.

Hall: So we’ll make sure we get your opinion going forward.

Dehner: The horse has left the barn.

Hall: No it’s not. It’s not left the barn.

Dehner: Is the person the election commissioner anymore?

Hall: Pending an investigation.

Hall later apologized to Dehner and said it was “a fair concern” and told him she should have talked to him about the decision last week.

Mandy Hambleton of student conduct said that a temporary suspension could be implemented as an interim measure pending the outcome of a conduct process.

Azad said he thinks the decision to lift his suspension was to allow him to finish his last three weeks as vice president, and that the investigation might be an attempt to “hold something over (his) head to try to keep (him) quiet.”

Azad said Hambleton told him he could go public with the details of the decision as long as they were not viewed as retaliation or interfering in the process of his conduct investigation.

Azad said the reasons he was given for his removal from the election commission were concerns about impartiality and integrity stemming from his involvement with We The Students and its connection to the Impact ticket.

He said he was removed from his role as vice president for his actions on the night of the no confidence in President Bardo vote, which was passed by the student senate 20-4-7.

Mar. 15, four members of We The Students interrupted the normal proceedings of a student government meeting to read a resolution calling for a vote of no confidence in President Bardo and asking for him to resign.

Azad said he is being investigated for the “hostile environment that was allowed in senate, not following the procedure of the meeting, and allowing a group to take over the meeting based on a personal agenda.”

Following the interruption of the meeting, Azad told the speakers from We The Students “the time for public forum has ended; we must ask you to take your seats,” but the speakers remained at the podium and finished reading the resolution. At the meeting, Azad denied knowledge that the group would present a resolution.

Azad said he did not disclose his involvement with We The Students because he didn’t want to undermine, discredit or make it seem like the resolution was something that was not the idea of students outside of SGA.

Azad has moved back into his SGA office and will attend the Wednesday student government meeting. The SGA elections are next week.

11 Comments

11 Responses to “Azad reinstated as student body vice president, suspension lifted”

  1. WSU student on March 30th, 2017 10:59 pm

    Taben should resign immediately due to the fact that he lied about not knowing that the “we the students” group was going to call for a no confidence vote in Bardo, plus the insensitive remarks he made on that Facebook page. SGA is fake news and a joke.

    [Reply]

    WSU Student Reply:

    SGA has worked diligently this year to initiate change and support students on this campus like never before. Have you commended Shocker Food Locker? WSU Inspire? All the funding that’s been distributed? All the great programs, activities, and events facilitated? All the marginalized students represented? Doesn’t appear even remotely close to a joke. But maybe if you considered what SGA has accomplished you would rethink that statement. But that takes intelligence and mental capacity. And what insensitive remarks? What was so insensitive? Finally, the group had students representing legitimate concerns on this campus. If you fail to recognize the fake news fed to students by this administration, then you fail to maintain any relevance. Do your research.

    [Reply]

    Tex Reply:

    There’s this weird thing that happens when someone engages in idiotic behaviour–it completely undermines any accomplishments they’ve made.

    I don’t care if the man cured cancer, he’s acting like a boob.

    [Reply]

    Real WSU Student Reply:

    Should John Tomblin resign for lying to the Senate about the YMCA?

    [Reply]

    Tex Reply:

    I think you should resign for being a boob.

    [Reply]

  2. Yay. on March 31st, 2017 12:57 am

    Taben, I am so glad you see only a form of justice. Continue to stand up for what is true, admit when wrong and then make it right. Do not be afraid to speak up with an unwavering resolution.

    People will still hate, and twist truth, and connivingly break you down. Do not give up, people are rooting for you! Only let the administration push you around so that they will only make themselves look as fools.

    Seriously, this whole fiasco makes Teri Hall and all of the administration look worse. Let them dig their own graves. The truth always wins. Glad to have you back.

    [Reply]

  3. Real Shocker on March 31st, 2017 7:12 am

    Dr. Dehner,

    The administration does not care about faculty or their opinion on anything. How can that not be clear to you and all the faculty by now. Taben was suspended without any conduct charges existing nor was he presented with any of the charges or the people who made the charges. What more do you or any faculty need to know. Interim measures are simply a measure of intimidation and retaliation. WSU hired a private attorney from Kansas City to investigate Joseph and Taben and didn’t find anything so Teri had to develop some reasons for taking interim measures. Many months and thousands of dollars spent by WSU on a private attorney and that person found nothing.

    [Reply]

    WSU Admin out of their Minds Reply:

    Wait, what? A private attorney…

    Who do they honestly think they are. That is probably on the grounds of abusing power, or more like being powerfully abusive.

    This must end. The administration is out of control.

    Absolutely no one holds them accountable. This is just wrong. What is wrong with these people, it’s disturbing. Absolutely corrupt.

    [Reply]

  4. Tex on March 31st, 2017 10:02 am

    Well, the Circus that is Student Government needed it’s clown act back–it just wouldn’t be the same without Taben there.

    [Reply]

  5. the Administration does not like any of us on March 31st, 2017 3:34 pm

    Tex, I see that you are frustrated. There are probably grounds for your frustrations.

    But there really is a big problem. I problem. And because of major issues, there is chaos. There are frustrations.

    And it’s okay. It’s healthy to disagree. It’s healthy to learn from each other and weather or not things go perfectly…you may not realize it yet. But the administration doesn’t actually like you, or me, or any of us. The administration only like themselves and has built kingdom around their high thrones. Absent of Democracy, they hold no regard for a checks and balance system that keeps all of us healthy.

    Tex, there are mistakes made. Absolutely. Maybe you are unaware of how they have mistreated people, because you have not yet or may not be a recipient.

    What they are doing is treating people in ways that people lose a sense of dignity and autonomy. They lose jobs, they lose safety, they lose educational opportunities, they lose a sense of value and worth.

    If you could only witness what happens behind their closed doors.

    It makes sense that people think that students are in a circus act if you haven’t experienced it personally. You really don’t want to though, Tex. It is the worst feeling.

    You can be you, and regardless if you agree with me, I honestly am willing to civilly disagree and respect you. I respect that, and from my standpoint, I will disagree with you, because I don’t want you to ever face their mistreatment. It would not be right.

    I respect you enough, Tex to disagree with you.

    [Reply]

    Tex Reply:

    You must be talking about the SGA Executives and the Cabinet: “…how they have mistreated people…” definitely sounds like how Shepard has treated people this past year.

    Then these gems: “…they lose a sense of value and worth. If you could only witness what happens behind their closed doors.” Definitely sounds like you’re talking about Shepard-Azad and their team and how they treat people in the SGA Office. Even the code of conduct investigation outlined how the climate in SGA was “toxic and stressful.” It went on to further say “[Shepard] had a role in perpetuating this climate by responding negatively to opposition and allowing personal and political disputes to hinder the work of the organization.”

    Sounds like you’re clearly confused and the problem perhaps stems from within SGA, more specifically the leadership of the organization. Maybe SGA should get their house in order before telling someone else that they need to do the same thing.

    [Reply]

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