Student government VP resigns

Chris Toomey/The Watchdog
Chris Toomey/The Watchdog

With only four weeks left in the quarter, Dustin Boehlke resigned from his position as the current Vice President of Finance and Communications for the Associated Student Government on May 15. ASG Staff Adviser Brandon Lueken publicly announced Boehlke’s resignation on May 16 during a Board of Directors meeting, which Boehlke did not attend.

According to Chief Justice Kevin Tu, on Monday members of the ASG Judicial Board filed a formal complaint against Boehlke, citing three broken bylaws: first, bylaw, which requires ASG officers to maintain office hours. Boehlke had not maintained the office hours he was scheduled for, and Boehlke said this was because of a clerical error. The office hours indicated on the schedule were not the ones he signed up for. Second, Tu cited bylaw, which requires ASG officers to attend mandatory Board of Directors meetings. Boehlke had missed five meetings due to extenuating circumstances. Protocol states that after an officer misses a Board of Directors meeting, an explanation must be submitted in writing to the ASG President, and the president never received those explanations. Thirdly, Tu cited bylaw 5.1.2, which requires all ASG officers to be BC students. After a combination of receiving over $1000 in parking fines which Boehlke could not pay and complications with his financial aid, he decided to attend North Seattle Community College full-time, a decision he disclosed to both Lueken and Assistant Dean of Student Programs Faisal Jaswal, who raised no issue about it. The ASG bylaws are vague on their definition of what constitutes a BC student and refers to the BC Code of Conduct: “A student, unless otherwise qualified, means any person who is enrolled for classes or has been accepted for admission to the college.” The vagueness of this definition is up for interpretation by the Judicial Board.

The breaching of these bylaws was cause for the Judicial Board to suggest a vote of no confidence, a process by which the ASG can terminate an officer’s position if two-thirds of the rest of the officers decide by vote that the officer in question is incapable of fulfilling his or her role. By resigning, Boehlke eliminated the need for a vote of no confidence, which was scheduled for the Board of Director’s meeting on May 15.

Boehlke saw his resignation as the culmination of a number of incidents within the ASG and around Student Programs and BC’s campus as a whole. Boehlke, who is Caucasian and an ex-Marine, believes there is a racial issue on campus. He said he is perceived as intimidating and privileged because of his ethnicity and his military status. Boehlke cited a specific incidence where he was asked by an active member of Student Programs while getting out of his car, “Isn’t it nice to be white?”

“I’m not privileged,” he insisted. “Everything I have now…[I have] because I was in the Marine Corps Infantry. I risked my life in Afghanistan. I was injured in combat…it’s not because I’m white.”

“People go to jail for being racist,” said Boehlke. “People get killed for being racist…you can’t just call me that. It’s a really big deal.”

ASG Chief Justice Kevin Tu saw Boehlke’s resignation as a statement to the ASG. He believed that if the vote of no confidence had occurred, Boehlke had enough support within the ASG to stay in his position.  Tu cited tension between Boehlke and ASG President Takhmina Dzhuraeva as one of the reasons he decided to resign. “They were butting heads the entire year,” said Tu.

ASG President Takhmina Dzhuraeva saw the resignation as the best possible course of action. By going to a vote of no confidence, the ASG might have been split over the vote, causing tension between the members. She acknowledged that she, who held Boehlke’s position last year, and Boehlke had different priorities for government spending, and that was the cause of the tension. Last year, Dzhuraeva approved every funding request presented.

Said Dzhuraeva: “He thought through every single funding request and tried to think of ways to reduce [them] or to find alternatives, where for me, I’m a little more liberal. I want students to have a chance to make mistakes. Even if we waste money, we’re learning.” She said that Boehlke was never targeted by other members of the ASG or Student Programs based on his race. “We’ve been together for nine months,” she said. “If there was a problem, we’d have addressed it a long time ago.

Tu said much of the anger at Boehlke was because he was in a targeted position, as part of his job was to rule whether or not clubs and programs get funding from the student government. “He takes the heat for everyone when a funding request gets denied.”

Boehlke’s position on the ASG will remain empty for the remainder of the year. “People are going to look back in a few years and they’re not going to remember the three incidences where I wasn’t at a Board of Directors meeting to write the numbers. In a couple years, those 17 Bangkok students are going to remember that student emailing them back and forth telling them about the experience,” said Boehlke, in reference to a project he has been working on to bring 17 international students from an impoverished area of Thailand to attend BC. “The veterans are going to remember the guy that helped them make ends meet. And that is student government.”