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BGLTSA Vice Chair Impeached By Board

By Marc J. Ambinder, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

Amid reports of an internal power struggle and a controversy surrounding its recent board elections, the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA) voted Sunday night to impeach Vice Chair David A. Campbell '00.

Campbell disputes the impeachment and contends that he remains the group's vice chair.

"Given Dave Campbell's history on the board and interaction with it, we just set into motion a constitutional action," Co-Chair Andre K. Sulmers '99 said last night.

Co-Chair Lauralee Summer '98 said Campbell's goals "and the goals of the BGLTSA were just so different that it was really not appropriate for him to be on the board, and eight other people recognized that."

A dispute over the organization's recent executive board elections finally led to a call for Campbell's ouster, according to BGLTSA members.

Some members questioned both the legitimacy of the process and the outcome of the elections. All those elected to next year's board were white males.

As vice chair, Campbell was in charge of administering the elections for four of the board's 10 seats.

Campbell said he compiled about 15 legitimate nominations for the open board positions.

"In my opinion, when I published the date when nominations are closed, I gave my word--that's election procedure," he said.

Campbell said he then contacted those nominated and asked them to confirm, via e-mail, that they wished to run for the slated positions.

"I gave them three days to respond as to whether or not they wanted to run," he said. "To my disappointment, very few people expressed interest in running for the positions."

Six of the 15 people Campbell contacted responded to his e-mail message expressing willingness to run for the board.

"The people that had agreed to run had won by default," he said.

In an e-mail message to BGLTSA's general membership announcing the results of the election, Campbell wrote that "it turned out that those interested in running for leadership positions were few in number."

Adam A. Sofen '01, a Crimson editor, was named co-chair; Campbell and Richard R. Williams '01 were named vice chairs; and Matthew S. Trent '00 was named treasurer. If the election results areupheld, their terms will begin next fall.

At the bottom of the e-mail message, Campbellwrote, "For the remainder of THIS semester,Geoffrey [B.] Mainland ['00] will hold theposition of vice chair along with me and Michael[T.] Tan ['01] will hold the position ofsecretary." Mainland and Tan were the othernominees who had expressed interest in serving onthe board.

Board members objected to the results of theelection on several grounds.

First, members objected to Campbell's decisionto inform the BGLTSA membership of the electionresults before he informed the board itself.

Additionally, members felt that next year'sboard would not be diverse enough.

BGLTSA's constitution states that the board'scomposition should represent the diversity of theorganization.

Still, Summer admits, "[Diversity is] anebulous term."

At Sunday night's meeting, members questionedCampbell about the lack of gender and ethnicdiversity among the candidates.

Although "of course" he shared their concerns,Campbell said he "was not going to set aside theelection just because of the racial make-up."

Campbell said the board unfairly blamed him forthe election results.

"I don't think I can be held responsible for anapathy that pervades this community," he said.

Board members dispute Campbell's interpretationof the election results.

"For one thing, as a female member of theBGLTSA, I don't think that the women areapathetic," Summer said. "I think that they don'tfeel represented enough in our organization."

Campbell further alleges the board'sinclination to invalidate the election resultsviolates the spirit of the BGLTSA constitution.

"In a democracy, you cannot throw out anelection, even though technically it's possiblefor the board to vote to amend the constitution[to do so]," Campbell said. "I think it'spolitically unconscionable."

Summer said Campbell's reaction "was a typicalexample of how [he] did not work with the board."

Sulmers declined to comment on whether anyboard action to nullify the election results wouldbe constitutional.

At Sunday night's meeting, the board votedsix-to-one with two abstentions to impeachCampbell. Sofen and Tan were the two abstentions,Campbell said.

Sofen said he originally voted to abstain butlater changed his vote to favor Campbell'simpeachment.

Constitutional Crisis

Campbell claims his conduct did not warrantimpeachment. He also said the impeachment isinvalid because the group's constitution itself isquestionable.

Sulmers wrote the BGLTSA's constitution lastSeptember and presented it to the board forrevision.

Campbell said he expected the constitution tobe presented to the full BGLTSA membership forratification.

Since that did not happen, Campbell said theconstitution is not valid.

Sulmers declined to comment on Campbell'sassertion about the legality of the constitution.

Later in Sunday night's meeting, according toCampbell, board members Summer, Alena J. Williams'98, who is also a Crimson editor, and RichardWilliams told Sulmers they would resign ifCampbell did not leave the organization.

Sulmers then put Campbell's impeachment to avote.

Under the constitution that Sulmers wrote, anyimpeachment must be a unanimous decision. SinceSunday night's vote included abstentions, it isunclear whether the unanimity condition wassatisfied. Additionally, it is unclear whether thecandidate slated for impeachment is allowed tovote.

"I voted not to impeach myself. In my opinion,that therefore denies them the unanimityrequirement," Campbell said.

Sulmers declined to comment on whether theimpeachment was constitutional.

He said that no other board members had broughtto him any concerns about the legality of theconstitution. But he would not comment as towhether BGLTSA was considering amending it.

Summer said the board was united in its supportof the constitution and its procedures.

"Everyone on our board except for Dave Campbellthinks of our constitution as a document that ismeant to help us," she said.

The Last Straw?

Board members noted that the issue ofCampbell's impeachment had been raisedunofficially prior to the election and to Sundaynight's meeting.

Summer said Campbell had been asked to resignin late January.

"I knew it was going to happen," said Trent,who cautioned that he did not know all of thereasons behind the impeachment. Trent did notattend Sunday night's meeting.

Campbell acknowledges he has had personalproblems with board members in the past.

"We've had a number of meetings where thingsgot very heated and very personal and things weresaid that were regretted later," he said.

Campbell concedes, "I said many things that Iregret. I said things that were personallyattacking."

But he claims the entire board often foughtamong themselves, leading to e-mail wars andpersonal confrontations.

"I think, in general, our board degeneratedinto infighting. Professionality was simply outthe window," Campbell said.

Board members also accused Campbell of notfulfilling all of his obligations as vice chair.

Campbell admits that he didn't always do whathis job required him to do, but claims other boardmembers routinely failed to fulfill theirrespective duties.

"I have documentation that has every singlemembers not fulfilling their obligations," hesaid.

Campbell received an e-mail message from AlenaWilliams yesterday informing him that he was nolonger vice chair and that his name had been takenoff the BGLTSA's executive board e-mail list.

Non-executive members of the organization saidyesterday they knew of Campbell's impeachment butrefused to say how they had been informed anddeclined further comment.

Campbell said he still considers himself vicechair and will attend meetings and delegateresponsibilities.

Valid Results?

The state of the elections Campbell supervisedis unclear, even to board members.

Sofen said yesterday the e-mail that Campbellwrote announcing the election results "was amiscommunication" and should not have been sent toBGLTSA's general membership.

Sofen also said he had not officially beenelected co-chair. But he expressed confidence thathe would become co-chair "when and if the electionresults are finalized."

Sulmers said the board "has not decided what todo to correct the current situation."

"Basically, it's a question of whether it was avalid election or not," Trent said.

This is not the first controversy surroundingBGLTSA's leadership this year.

Velma M. "Mitch" McEwen '98 resigned asco-chair in mid-November citing time constraints.She was replaced in December by Summer.

Board members had criticized McEwen for notfulfilling her obligations as co-chair and alsocriticized the BGLTSA's structure for placing toomany responsibilities in the hands of too fewexecutives.

BGLTSA has also experienced growing pains as ithas gained influence as a powerful political andsocial entity at Harvard in recent years.

Each of the group's six daughterorganizations--Girlspot, Quest, Cocktail,Spectrum, QUAG and the Transgender Task Force--wonofficial recognition from the College this year.But members of BGLTSA's current and former boardshave expressed concern that the organization wasnot responding well to the concerns of its femalemembers--a concern which the debate over therecent election results highlights.

In recent months, BGLTSA has made efforts toaddress concerns about diversity.

Late last fall, BGLTSA sponsored a queerdiversity workshop led by activist Ana Lara '97.In January, the organization sponsored a women'sarts weekend in Adams House. And, on Feb. 13, atthe Queer Cotillion dance, they designated speciallounges for women and men

At the bottom of the e-mail message, Campbellwrote, "For the remainder of THIS semester,Geoffrey [B.] Mainland ['00] will hold theposition of vice chair along with me and Michael[T.] Tan ['01] will hold the position ofsecretary." Mainland and Tan were the othernominees who had expressed interest in serving onthe board.

Board members objected to the results of theelection on several grounds.

First, members objected to Campbell's decisionto inform the BGLTSA membership of the electionresults before he informed the board itself.

Additionally, members felt that next year'sboard would not be diverse enough.

BGLTSA's constitution states that the board'scomposition should represent the diversity of theorganization.

Still, Summer admits, "[Diversity is] anebulous term."

At Sunday night's meeting, members questionedCampbell about the lack of gender and ethnicdiversity among the candidates.

Although "of course" he shared their concerns,Campbell said he "was not going to set aside theelection just because of the racial make-up."

Campbell said the board unfairly blamed him forthe election results.

"I don't think I can be held responsible for anapathy that pervades this community," he said.

Board members dispute Campbell's interpretationof the election results.

"For one thing, as a female member of theBGLTSA, I don't think that the women areapathetic," Summer said. "I think that they don'tfeel represented enough in our organization."

Campbell further alleges the board'sinclination to invalidate the election resultsviolates the spirit of the BGLTSA constitution.

"In a democracy, you cannot throw out anelection, even though technically it's possiblefor the board to vote to amend the constitution[to do so]," Campbell said. "I think it'spolitically unconscionable."

Summer said Campbell's reaction "was a typicalexample of how [he] did not work with the board."

Sulmers declined to comment on whether anyboard action to nullify the election results wouldbe constitutional.

At Sunday night's meeting, the board votedsix-to-one with two abstentions to impeachCampbell. Sofen and Tan were the two abstentions,Campbell said.

Sofen said he originally voted to abstain butlater changed his vote to favor Campbell'simpeachment.

Constitutional Crisis

Campbell claims his conduct did not warrantimpeachment. He also said the impeachment isinvalid because the group's constitution itself isquestionable.

Sulmers wrote the BGLTSA's constitution lastSeptember and presented it to the board forrevision.

Campbell said he expected the constitution tobe presented to the full BGLTSA membership forratification.

Since that did not happen, Campbell said theconstitution is not valid.

Sulmers declined to comment on Campbell'sassertion about the legality of the constitution.

Later in Sunday night's meeting, according toCampbell, board members Summer, Alena J. Williams'98, who is also a Crimson editor, and RichardWilliams told Sulmers they would resign ifCampbell did not leave the organization.

Sulmers then put Campbell's impeachment to avote.

Under the constitution that Sulmers wrote, anyimpeachment must be a unanimous decision. SinceSunday night's vote included abstentions, it isunclear whether the unanimity condition wassatisfied. Additionally, it is unclear whether thecandidate slated for impeachment is allowed tovote.

"I voted not to impeach myself. In my opinion,that therefore denies them the unanimityrequirement," Campbell said.

Sulmers declined to comment on whether theimpeachment was constitutional.

He said that no other board members had broughtto him any concerns about the legality of theconstitution. But he would not comment as towhether BGLTSA was considering amending it.

Summer said the board was united in its supportof the constitution and its procedures.

"Everyone on our board except for Dave Campbellthinks of our constitution as a document that ismeant to help us," she said.

The Last Straw?

Board members noted that the issue ofCampbell's impeachment had been raisedunofficially prior to the election and to Sundaynight's meeting.

Summer said Campbell had been asked to resignin late January.

"I knew it was going to happen," said Trent,who cautioned that he did not know all of thereasons behind the impeachment. Trent did notattend Sunday night's meeting.

Campbell acknowledges he has had personalproblems with board members in the past.

"We've had a number of meetings where thingsgot very heated and very personal and things weresaid that were regretted later," he said.

Campbell concedes, "I said many things that Iregret. I said things that were personallyattacking."

But he claims the entire board often foughtamong themselves, leading to e-mail wars andpersonal confrontations.

"I think, in general, our board degeneratedinto infighting. Professionality was simply outthe window," Campbell said.

Board members also accused Campbell of notfulfilling all of his obligations as vice chair.

Campbell admits that he didn't always do whathis job required him to do, but claims other boardmembers routinely failed to fulfill theirrespective duties.

"I have documentation that has every singlemembers not fulfilling their obligations," hesaid.

Campbell received an e-mail message from AlenaWilliams yesterday informing him that he was nolonger vice chair and that his name had been takenoff the BGLTSA's executive board e-mail list.

Non-executive members of the organization saidyesterday they knew of Campbell's impeachment butrefused to say how they had been informed anddeclined further comment.

Campbell said he still considers himself vicechair and will attend meetings and delegateresponsibilities.

Valid Results?

The state of the elections Campbell supervisedis unclear, even to board members.

Sofen said yesterday the e-mail that Campbellwrote announcing the election results "was amiscommunication" and should not have been sent toBGLTSA's general membership.

Sofen also said he had not officially beenelected co-chair. But he expressed confidence thathe would become co-chair "when and if the electionresults are finalized."

Sulmers said the board "has not decided what todo to correct the current situation."

"Basically, it's a question of whether it was avalid election or not," Trent said.

This is not the first controversy surroundingBGLTSA's leadership this year.

Velma M. "Mitch" McEwen '98 resigned asco-chair in mid-November citing time constraints.She was replaced in December by Summer.

Board members had criticized McEwen for notfulfilling her obligations as co-chair and alsocriticized the BGLTSA's structure for placing toomany responsibilities in the hands of too fewexecutives.

BGLTSA has also experienced growing pains as ithas gained influence as a powerful political andsocial entity at Harvard in recent years.

Each of the group's six daughterorganizations--Girlspot, Quest, Cocktail,Spectrum, QUAG and the Transgender Task Force--wonofficial recognition from the College this year.But members of BGLTSA's current and former boardshave expressed concern that the organization wasnot responding well to the concerns of its femalemembers--a concern which the debate over therecent election results highlights.

In recent months, BGLTSA has made efforts toaddress concerns about diversity.

Late last fall, BGLTSA sponsored a queerdiversity workshop led by activist Ana Lara '97.In January, the organization sponsored a women'sarts weekend in Adams House. And, on Feb. 13, atthe Queer Cotillion dance, they designated speciallounges for women and men

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