Willamette student body president resigns in protest


Willamette student body president resigns in protest

8:19 p.m. PDT April 21, 2016

The president of the Associated Students of Willamette University recently announced his resignation, saying he is resigning in protest of the Willamette Academy changes and other issues regarding diversity and transparency at the university.

Shamir Cervantes wrote about his resignation in a column he submitted to the student newspaper, The Collegian, and in a letter he sent via internal email list-serves.

“Our school’s administrative leadership cares more about your money and demographic statistics than you as a person,” Cervantes wrote in the column. “I think we are all aware of this on some level, but we go about our days without giving it the full attention it should command … I am done with being handed down decisions that affect students made without consultation, being told I am misinformed when I attempt to address faults or inaccuracies, being lied to when promises are made to me in the plain view of others, and otherwise being treated as a minor nuisance to be dealt with as administrative plans move forward regardless of how clearly students … object or ask to be engaged.”

He wrote that he cannot “effectively do (his) job because of the conditions of Willamette’s governance.”

In addition to resigning, Cervantes, who plans to graduate next month, also called for the resignation of the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Marlene Moore and University President Stephen Thorsett.

“Thorsett and Marlene Moore ought to resign, if not out of a sense of basic decency and shame, because to the judgment of many segments of our campus they are not making the right decisions for our school and they have arrived at many of their decisions in ways that have neglected or trivialized the concerns of affected individuals,” he wrote.

Thorsett and Moore were both unavailable to comment.

University spokesperson Adam Torgerson said the administration respects Cervantes’ passion and desire to take action; he said they value his feedback.

“I am trying to do the best thing for my university,” Cervantes said. “My story mirrors the experiences of others and I think I am in a position to do something about it.

“This feels like the best way to do that.”

Cervantes said he has gotten lots of support for his decision to resign.

npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter@Nataliempate, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist or on the web at nataliepate.com


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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit www.about.me/natalie_pate, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at www.StatesmanJournal.com.

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