Roark: Board meeting was ‘totally hectic’

New student trustee calls discussion with Hamilton ‘unprofessional’

Kelly Wynne, Features Editor

Gloria Roark, began her tenure as the first African-American woman to serve as student trustee on April 30. The Courier’s Kelly Wynne sat down with Roark to get her thoughts on her first of many board meetings.

Kelly Wynne: How do you feel you are adjusting to the role of student trustee?

Gloria Roark: After the meeting on Thursday I feel very well adjusted. I was surprised. They started talking about things that I could comment on, and I think that was helpful for me. I think voicing my opinion at the first board meeting was essential.

KW: How do you feel the meeting went overall?

GR: Oh, it was totally hectic. I was expecting it, but it wasn’t very professional. Some of the conversation between some of the other board members wasn’t professional or anything like that.

KW: Do you feel that it will continue that was throughout the year?

GR: If we keep having to make huge decisions like this and certain board members keep behaving the way that they do, then yes. As it stands, I think the transition between different chairmans and vice chairmans was a big deal and that kind of hit hard with some people. Hopefully it transitions into the board that it should be.

KW: Do you feel that you voiced everything you wanted to?

GR: You need so much information to make a certain decision so the ones that I did voice my opinions about were the ones that I really felt strongly about.

KW: Was there information you felt was lacking?

GR: I think it was just the whole conversation between the attorney and Kathy Hamilton and Erin Birt. I was just torn in so many different directions and it’s really hard to be in that position. I would have really liked to know what the truth is, because you know one was saying one thing, one was saying another.

KW: Was there any outcome that you were disappointed with?

GR: I don’t want to sound rude, but the whole conversation I had with Kathy Hamilton about the office space. I felt like she was interrogating me so that was very disappointing. I had never said anything to her before. I had never met her. That was my first interaction with the woman, and it felt like she was interrogating me as a student. I think that’s very unprofessional, especially in her role. I think they definitely should have considered the office space in more depth. I think that was the problem. I think they didn’t consider things in depth enough.

KW: The board seems to be very divided. Almost every decision during the meeting was a 4-3 vote. Is there a side you are leaning towards?

GR: I mean, no. I feel like I would have to go through more board meetings to understand the people that I’m working with. Everyone has heard things about Kathy Hamilton and Erin Birt, but you can’t really make a decision based on other people. It shouldn’t really be a side. There should be sides to each vote, but once it gets voted on you should still support it as a board.

KW: What changes do you see taking place this year?

GR: The things we have to decide on are so controversial, it could go in so many different directions. That board meeting was so crazy.

KW: What do you think was the worst part?

GR: Probably the fighting. They were just bickering back and forth and I was like, “OK, can we move this along?” It didn’t have to last that long. I think the newcomers…well, I can’t even speak for them because some of them wanted to bicker about it. But I was uncomfortable just sitting there, watching adults bicker about things for hours. Especially because you knew what their vote was going to be regardless. I don’t know, I think that’s bad to begin with. You shouldn’t know someone’s vote before you even talk about it…. Some of the newcomers would question Kathy Hamilton and then vote in favor of what she wanted passed, and it was so weird….It was all very strange.

KW: Is there anything that you would like students on campus to know about you representing the board?

GR: I’m definitely looking for input. When I abstained I thought, “Wow, I wish I had more student input in these situations.” I didn’t want to abstain, but I didn’t have a well-formed opinion. I don’t want to voice my opinion without other student’s input cause I think that’s totally wrong. That’s backwards.