Shepard: ‘Out with the old, in with the new, and screw you on your way out’

Student Body President Joseph Shepard’s final meeting with President John Bardo — planned for Monday — was cancelled 10 minutes before its scheduled start time.

“Dr. Bardo has had something come up off campus and will be unable to make it to your 2:30 meeting, so I will need to cancel this off his calendar,” the emailed cancellation sent to Shepard from Bardo’s secretary said.

“Dr. Bardo wishes you all the best for the remainder of this school year and as you work towards completing your master’s degree. He appreciates your service to the institution and the work that you have done on behalf of students.”

Shepard addressed his concerns about the cancelled meeting, and concerns about President-elect Paige Hungate’s treatment by administration, during his report at SGA’s Wednesday meeting.

Shepard said Bardo had no intention to reschedule.

Faculty members — who Shepard would not name because of  “the culture of fear,” he said — told Shepard that Bardo was seen at the Braeburn Square Starbucks during the meeting time.

Teri Hall, vice president of student affairs, said whether Bardo was at Starbucks or not, whatever he cancelled the meeting for was likely important.

“I’m sure that if he cancelled it, there must have been a good reason,” Hall said. “Him sitting in Starbucks is probably still a meeting, too. He’s not just sitting doing whatever.”

Shepard said he has not met with Bardo in over two months. He said the final meeting had been on his schedule since the start of the term, though rescheduled from its original date.

He said the cancelled meeting is a continuation of the administration’s eagerness to clean their hands of Shepard and Azad and move into the next SGA session.

He said this eagerness toward the incoming SGA session was shown Friday during the AAC announcement. President-elect Paige Hungate was invited by WSU to speak at the announcement. Shepard received no such invitation.

“I feel that was his way of saying, ‘Out with the old, in with the new, and screw you on your way out,’” Shepard said.

President-elect Hungate said she believes she was chosen for the event because the change would happen during her term, not Shepard’s — not because of an ulterior motive.

Shepard and Bardo have had a rocky relationship since Shepard’s first term, Shepard said. He said it all stems from his friendship with the 57th session’s student body president, Matthew Conklin, which has left him caught in the middle of a “political crossfire.” Conklin’s term ended with the removal of pews from the Grace Memorial Chapel. He was also outspoken in his defense of former Vice President for Student Affairs Wade Robinson, who is currently involved in a lawsuit with WSU and Bardo.

“(Bardo) didn’t like that,” Shepard said. “(The administration) didn’t like that.”

Hall said she doesn’t expect similar issues between administration and the SGA cabinet during the 60th session.

“I’ve been to a lot of SGA meetings, and they’re not like these,” Hall said. “I want good dialogue with students and I expect students to disagree with us. But the question is, ‘How do we have those conversations?’

“Frankly, I don’t want my colleagues from administration to come to these meetings because it’s hostile – hostile to me and to others.”

Shepard said there’s an “undeniable difference” between the treatment of him and Vice President Taben Azad and the student body president-elect and vice president-elect.

“It’s very clear that the incoming student body president and vice president are being treated like royal dignitaries, whereas Taben and I are being treated like the bottom of someone’s shoe.”

After Wednesday’s meeting — during which Vice President Azad and Hall had several back-and-forths — Azad approached Hall and asked if they could set up a meeting to talk things out. 

Azad: Can I talk to you, just for 30 seconds? Please. Could we meet tomorrow or Friday? Just for like 20, 30 minutes?

Hall: I’ll have to check my schedule. I really don’t know what my schedule’s like. It’s been very, very busy. I’m very, very busy this week.

Azad: Okay. Are you free anytime next week if you’re not free this week?

Hall: I will look at my calendar.

Azad: Could you let me know tomorrow?

Hall: I will look at my calendar.

Azad: Should I follow up tomorrow?

Hall: I will look at my calendar.