Although the Student Senate rescinded its demand that Helen Gorgas-Goulding be removed from her position as University liaison, Gorgas-Goulding has decided to step down, saying that she has yet to receive a written apology from the Senate and was completely humiliated by their Feb. 9 decision to replace her.?Senate Chair Ryan Anderson, along with Senate Parliamentarian Ben Hoffman, publicly apologized on Feb. 16 to Gorgas-Goulding for their involvement. While Anderson admitted the Senate has issues concerning Gorgas-Goulding’s performance as liaison, he apologized for the manner in which these issues were addressed. In his written apology he told Gorgas-Goulding, “.I am sorry for having hurt and publicly offended you in such a mean-spirited and humiliating way.”?The Senate’s written ultimatum to the University administration stated that unless the administration complied with its request for a new liaison, the Senate would cease negotiations regarding Student Senate employees. The goal of these discussions is to recognize Senate employees as University employees, which would entitle them to protection under a union and the University’s liability insurance policy.?Craig Hutchinson, executive assistant to the vice president of Student Development, said the Senate’s decision to use Gorgas-Goulding to issue an ultimatum was bound to create problems. ?”I don’t think that ultimatums, particularly in advance of dialogue regarding a problem, are ever a good idea,” says Hutchinson. “It creates defensiveness and communication problems at a minimum.”?In a letter to the Senate from Vice President of Student Development Judith Ryan, she states that it was not the prerogative of the Student Senate to dismiss the Student Senate liaison, who is an employee of the University of Southern Maine and the Division of Student Development, not an employee of the Student Senate.?Despite Vice President Ryan’s support, Gorgas-Goulding has asked to be removed as the Student Senate liaison, a position she has held since October. There has been no official action on this request and no replacement has been named.?”Given what happened to Helen, I support her decision to stop being the liaison,” says Vice President Ryan. “There needs to be more dialogue about the Senate’s reasons for using her in their ultimatum.”?Hutchinson also believes there is a need for clarification and says the Senate’s decision “.may have been part of learning bad politics.”?In the Executive Committee meeting where the ultimatum was drafted, the executive officers of the Senate expressed their concerns to Gorgas-Goulding about her performance as liaison. Among the issues addressed were a lack of communication between the liaison and Senate, Gorgas-Goulding’s perceived inattention to resident issues, and concerns that she was not working to protect the Senate’s image in public statements. Gorgas-Goulding was present at the meeting and allowed to respond to these concerns.?However, Gorgas-Goulding was not present when the matter was discussed during the full Senate’s executive session. Senators who were not present at the meeting earlier in the week did not hear Gorgas-Goulding’s response, and some have said that they were not given enough information about the issue before the vote. The motion passed anyway, resulting in a public request for her replacement.?While Gorgas-Goulding was aware of issues the Senate had with her, she claims that the senators never gave her an indication that they would replace her. “It came as a complete surprise,” says Gorgas-Goulding. “It was so incredibly embarrassing.”??Staff writer Ryan Milliken can be contacted at: [email protected]


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