Bramm takes issue with cabinet

Jeff Peyton

A proposal for changes in the LUCC constitution regarding the cabinet selection process was tabled to the steering committee for review in a March 8 meeting of the general council. Penned by Residence Life Committee member Adam Bramm, the proposal was cosigned by four other members of the general council and is intended to clarify both the criteria and review process for cabinet candidates. The proposal grew out of concerns over the events of this year’s cabinet selection process, which the cosigners of the proposal suggest “reflected poorly on the cabinet and on the council as a whole and seriously jeopardized the integrity of LUCC.”

Bramm, a four year member of LUCC, explained in a letter that the “proposal shouldn’t be taken as an attack on anyone,” but points to the cabinet’s conduct at the Feb. 22 general council meeting, during which new cabinet members were approved, as the source for his concern about current procedures.

The seven-person cabinet is selected by the president and vice president, who account for two of those seats, and approved by the general council. Three of the five cabinet positions they selected this year went unchanged, and as a result, said Bramm, “weren’t up for discussion [before the general council] at all.” Bramm worried that accepting such a precedent would allow members to serve on the cabinet for their entire LU careers without ever being accountable for their conduct before the general council.

Another factor that encouraged Bramm to draft the changes was that cabinet member Rebecca Neubauer will be off campus for one term next year. Technically, her absence is a violation of the constitution, which reads that students must “plan to be on campus during all terms in office.”

Also problematic to Bramm was an incident at the Feb. 22 meeting regarding the application of one of the cabinet candidates, Jennifer Dieter. During the meeting, representative Katie Donovan requested to see Dieter’s application because she had heard rumors that the candidate had made references to drinking alcohol in it. President of LUCC Chris Worman denied Donovan’s request, asserting his belief that since the application was submitted to the president and vice president, it should remain confidential. Dieter eventually admitted to making the reference, which, she stated, was meant as a joke on what was otherwise a serious application. “Not making [the applications] public just seemed like he was trying to cover something up,” Bramm said.

These combined circumstances, explained Bramm, made it “seem like, to us, that the cabinet wasn’t being very responsive to the students.”

The proposal would adjust the wording of the constitution only slightly, and is intended to ensure the integrity of the cabinet selection process in three ways. First, the president and vice president would be obliged to publicize cabinet openings and accept applications for all cabinet positions. Second, all candidates would have to be approved by the general council before assuming office. And finally, all appointments would be obliged to be on campus for all three terms of their tenure.

Worman defends the efficacy of his and Vice President Adam Locke’s selection process as well as the conduct of the Feb. 22 meeting. Worman pointed out that there is precedent for allowing Neaubuer to serve: “It is a rather liberal reading [of the constitution]… but frankly it has been going on for a long time and no one has been concerned about it,” said Worman, explaining that similar situations have been allowed in recent years.

Worman further pointed out that, though he and Locke did not disclose the applications, “as soon as someone asked [Dieter] what was on the application, she more than readily shared that with the cabinet and council.” The failure to allow the Council the opportunity to review standing members of the cabinet, said Worman, was a matter of focusing the day’s discussion on the approval of new members of the cabinet, not a matter of the cabinet trying to work without the approval of the council.

Bramm, however, has more than procedural concerns about the cabinet selection process, and is specifically distressed at the composition of the cabinet. Out of the seven members of the cabinet, six are Greek, four of whom, including Worman and Locke, are members of Beta Theta Pi, and two of whom are members of Kappa Alpha Theta. “It seemed to us that being president of the student body…you’d want to be more diversified in choosing your cabinet and be a little more representative of the student population,” Bramm said. He went on to explain, “the proposal that we made was getting at the fact that they are not very representative…and are not keeping the student body in mind when they’re acting.” Bramm added that the percentage of Greeks in the cabinet, “caused some alarm among certain students.”

Worman noted that he has not heard that the ‘Greekness’ of the cabinet bothered students, and defended his and Locke’s cabinet selections. “I did not screen applicants based on whether they were Greek or not… We chose the applicants who had the best rsums,” said Worman, “obviously the three people that were on it before are going to have more experience.”

Worman also noted that he has only a small applicant pool from which to draw. “It’s hard to get people to apply for the cabinet,” explained Worman, the jobs take “a lot of time, a lot of commitment.” Further factors influencing his cabinet decision included a consideration of group dynamics, which he and Bramm agree are an important part of an effective cabinet.

Bramm, however, maintains that such a dynamic can be found in other ways. “You can only benefit from having a diverse…cabinet,” he said.

Conversly, Worman asserted that he needed a dependable cabinet. “When I was trying to pick my cabinet, I obviously looked for people I knew I could trust to be there, who I knew wished to be there, and who directed their interests to me directly about being involved,” said Worman.

Defending the diversity of his cabinet, Worman noted that there are three voting men and three voting women, as well as a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds. He added, “we have a wide variety of viewpoints represented. The fact that we’re [mostly] Greek does not mean we all think in the same way.”

Worman further challenged anyone to “look at the record of all the bylaws we’ve passed…and to find one… that was pro-Greek, or anti-Greek for that matter.”

Although Bramm agreed that he couldn’t cite a specific example of the cabinet being biased, he believes that a more diverse group of students would expand the perspectives of cabinet members.

Worman claims that it is not the cabinet’s job to represent students. He characterizes the cabinet as “an executive board. It hears concerns and directs them in the right ways.”

For his part, Bramm pointed out that, despite the fact that cabinet members do not directly represent students, they nevertheless represent a good portion of the leadership and, consequently, have significant influence on LUCC.

Worman assessed that he was not influenced by his Greek standing when acting as the President of LUCC. “When [the cabinet] sits in front of LUCC, we are representatives of the Lawrence Community, not of Beta, Theta, or [any other organization],” said Worman.

Bramm and his cosigners expressed their hopes that the “proposed changes to the LUCC constitution will increase accountability on behalf of the ca
binet and enhance the function of LUCC as a representative body where the students have a choice in who they select to lead them.”

Worman commented on the proposal that, though the proposed wording is cleaner than the original, he does not feel the proposal represents potential “sweeping changes taking place.”

Presented during the March 8 meeting, Bramm’s proposal was, much to his disappointment, tabled without discussion to the steering committee, where it continues to wait for review.