UH Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) Senator Amber Shouse was officially removed from her seat as senator last Monday, October 5, 2015.
Shouse was removed for allegedly violating UHHSA’s constitution by communicating with administrators without the student body president’s permission.
The first thirty minutes of the meeting were public and can be seen here.
The recording shows the senate majority voting to close the meeting despite Shouse’s requests to keep it open. UHHSA members also insisted no recording devices be present. Shouse said that she wanted to record the meeting for her own personal records, and UHHSA members insisted she could not.
The basis for removal was an email that Shouse had sent Chancellor Donald Straney and Dean of Students Kelly Oaks describing how she had been harassed by certain UHHSA members and university officials. It was because of this email that Shouse was accused of violating Section C. of the constitution for “representing UHHSA in an official dealing with the University Administration without the president’s appointment.”
“Amber was one of the 3 out of the current 12 senators who was ran opposed in the 2015 election and was legitimately elected by the student’s majority vote. She was popular for bringing a non-status quo perspective to the table,” said UH Hilo student and former UHHSA senator Jennifer Ruggles. “In fact, the current UHHSA president, Laz Sye lost to her in the election,” she said.
Sye was later appointed to President by other senators who also ran unopposed.
Campus Center Director and State of Hawaii employee Ellen Kusano was alleged to have sent out an email to the UHHSA senate defaming Shouse. Shouse says may have lead to her harassment and removal.
“It seems unethical that a student senator can be harassed and then removed for reporting the harassment,” said Shouse. “My removal was unwarranted. I am disappointed by the actions of the UHHSA senators but I am appalled by the actions of Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano who’s defamatory email I believe led to my unjustified removal and harassment,” she said.
Shouse reported that the vote was 8 in favor of her removal, 2 opposed, with one abstention, (Shouse was required to abstain). UHHSA Treasurer Melinda Alles called for a secret ballot vote on the removal, and the majority supported the idea. Senators Briki Cajandig and Ryan Stack publicly opposed the removal. UH Hilo Student Association members Lazareth Sye, Alison Pham, Jessica Penaranda, Melinda Alles, Abraham Jose, Kawehi Kanoho-Kalahiki, Daniel Woods, David Khan, and Nick Nguyen supported Shouse’s removal.
Current UHHSA Senator Briki Cajandig said, “Amber is an amazing colleague of mine. She’s always worked hard to represent our students here at UHH. Her intentions have always been pure; she took her position seriously and serving students to the best of her ability was a main priority. It is very disappointing that such a passionate and caring leader has been removed from the Senate.”
Shouse is filing complaints with the university.