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Author Topic: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation  (Read 1172 times)

sutherngeorgian

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/07/AR2011030704416.html?hpid=newswell

UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation




Student leaders at the University of the District of Columbia called for the resignation of President Allen Sessoms on Monday in a noon protest, alleging that the administrator has spent lavishly on himself while raising tuition and cutting programs at Washington's public university.

The rally comes a week after the release of expense records that show that Sessoms billed the university for a number of thousand-dollar, first-class airplane tickets over the past two years. But the students said their complaints went beyond the president's spending habits to his decisions about tuition and academic programs and his alleged unwillingness to listen to students and faculty.

Sessoms, president of UDC since 2008, has brought sweeping changes to the university. He split the school in two, forming a community college with open admissions and a four-year university with higher tuition and admission standards. Enrollment and revenue are up.

He also disbanded the academic senate - an action that alienated many faculty - saying the group wielded too much power. And his new tuition schedule effectively doubled the cost for a four-year student, sparking widespread student protest.

Monday's protest drew about 30 students, including the president of the student senate. They gathered along Connecticut Avenue NW, chanting, "Hey hey, ho ho, Allen Sessoms got to go." The group entered the administration building and mounted the stairs to the president's office. Sessoms met with three student leaders at 1:30 p.m.; they emerged unsatisfied.

The allegations of overspending center on Sessoms's habit of traveling on refundable first-class tickets. In a news conference Monday afternoon, Sessoms said that's the only way he will travel. He has circulatory problems in his legs that, he said, require him to stretch out on long voyages.

"Yeah, I'm going to fly first-class," he said. "I'm not going to die for any job."

Sessoms said all the trips were for university business. The expense records released by UDC are incomplete. Sessoms blamed poor record-keeping for the disparity.

"Things get lost around here," he said. "I don't have to tell you that."

Sessoms said he has requested an audit of his trips. He said the president's office always spends less than its full allotment of travel funds.

The level of support for Sessoms on campus is hard to measure. The leader of the interim academic senate supports him; the faculty association president is comparatively critical. Michael Watson, student senate president, led Monday's protest, but he said a number of other student leaders remain loyal to the president.


A petition calling for his resignation had drawn 37 signatures by Monday afternoon.

"Why isn't UDC ready to admit that maybe they picked someone wrong for this job?" said Joanna Preston, 22, a senior who was crowned Miss UDC 2010.

Many faculty are upset over a proposal that Sessoms released last week to reduce or consolidate almost 20 academic programs. Faculty association President Mohamed El-Khawas said the president didn't consult faculty or trustees. Sessoms said the cuts are proposals and both groups will get their say.

"The president doesn't have to listen to us," El-Khawas said.

Sessoms resigned from both his previous college presidencies, at Delaware State University and Queens College. At both institutions, according to local news accounts, he was praised as an intelligent reformer but questioned on his spending. He also was accused of seeking to elevate the academic pedigree of both institutions at the expense, some said, of low-income and minority students, an allegation that is now fueling antipathy at UDC.

that's all...

MrSoul

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2011, 08:39:59 AM »
 :clap:  Good for the students taking a stand against tyrany!

Offline Jaimac

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2011, 08:53:09 AM »
Interesting.....
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

~Martin Luther King,

Offline EPJr

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2011, 10:15:45 AM »
Quote
Sessoms, president of UDC since 2008, has brought sweeping changes to the university. He split the school in two, forming a community college with open admissions and a four-year university with higher tuition and admission standards. Enrollment and revenue are up

Quote
he was praised as an intelligent reformer but questioned on his spending. He also was accused of seeking to elevate the academic pedigree of both institutions at the expense, some said, of low-income and minority students, an allegation that is now fueling antipathy at UDC.

Quote
A petition calling for his resignation had drawn 37 signatures by Monday afternoon

 :shrug: :shrug: :shrug: :shrug: :shrug: :shrug: :shrug:

« Last Edit: March 08, 2011, 10:17:33 AM by EPJr »

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Offline BisonBlu

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UDC Students Demand President Sessoms’ Resignation
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2011, 10:48:45 AM »

Washington Informer UDC student leaders (left to right) Michael Watson, Veronica Alcantarra and Melody Marsh are looking into legal action against President Allen Sessoms. Students staged a protest on the university’s campus in Northwest on Mon., March 7. Photo by Victor Holt
 
“What he is doing is causing tension around the campus because there is a feeling that he is not being honest,” said Watson who lives in Southeast.

There have been rumors of retaliation against the students who want Sessoms to step down. Watson said that he is not afraid.

“I am from Southeast and I know my rights,” he said.

“I will not stay silent on this.”

The University of the District of Columbia has an enrollment of approximately 5,100 students and also boasts a community college, undergraduate division, a graduate school and a law school. Prominent alumni of the university include D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington, Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip-Hop Caucus, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore President Thelma Thompson and former Georgetown Men’s Basketball Coach John Thompson.

However, there are some university alumni that support the students’ call for Sessoms to step down.

“Since Sessoms has become the president, tuition has increased and he has done away with open enrollment,” said Joshua Lopez, a candidate for the at-large city council seat.

“When I was here two years ago, we protested his style of management and his policies. I see he has not changed.”

Another alumnus, William Kellibrew IV, fell short of calling for the president’s resignation.

“We need an independent, external audit of what is going on,” Kellibrew, 36, said.

Sessoms was hired by the university’s board of trustees in 2008 to upgrade the university so it would be an attractive educational feature in the city’s landscape.

The university’s open admission policy was eliminated for the undergraduate division by Sessoms and tuition was increased dramatically, much to the chagrin of students.

The president, in a cost-saving measure, has proposed to eliminate or merge several programs that he considered to be underutilized. Programs that are targeted for downgrading from a major to a minor include Spanish and Physics.

Observers question the wisdom of changing the Spanish program in light of the city’s growing Latino population. The downgrading of Physics is ironic because

Sessoms holds degrees in the field.

The curriculum changes bother Ashley Moore, a Fort Washington, Md., English major. She said that English will be downgraded to a minor if Sessoms has his way.

“He is wrong to cut some programs,” Moore, 20, said.

“If he cuts some of those programs, some students will lose interest in the university and leave.”

Some of the protesting students feel that the president is not supportive of them.

“Our theater department had an outstanding run of ‘The Wiz’ last year and while the show was praised, Sessoms did not even bother to come to a performance,” said Melody Marsh, a senior administration of criminal justice major.

“The theater department will feature ‘Annie’ this week and we will see if he comes to a show,” Marsh, 30, said.

Corey Francis, a senior studio art major, said that Sessoms should try to meet the needs of students who have disabilities instead of “flying around everywhere.”

The president of the District’s only public institution of higher learning is under attack from student leaders for his travel expenditures at a time when tuition is being increased and budget cuts from the D.C. Council are imminent.

Fifty students gathered at the plaza of the University of the District of Columbia’s Northwest campus on Mon., March 7 to call for the resignation of Allen Sessoms, the president of the school. The students, chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Allen Sessoms got to go”, said that Sessoms travel and other expenses are too much to bear.

“He is raising tuition and he is spending the students’ fees like crazy,” said David Okonkwo, 24, a junior biology major. “I don’t support what he is doing.”
Sessoms, 61, has come under fire for spending excessive amounts of money for travel to places like Egypt and San Antonio, Texas. He held a press conference later during the day to explain why he traveled so much and why he insisted on going first class.

“As a university president, I have to be out there,” he said.

“We are trying to build a vision, build a strong team and sell the institution. We know some of the changes that we have made in the university have ruffled some feathers and we expect that.”

Sessoms has served as the president of Delaware State University in Dover, Del., and at Queens College in New York City. He had a contentious relationship at Queens College with officials with the City University of New York, which resulted in his departure regarding a misunderstanding about fundraising for an AIDS research center that never materialized.

However, he left Delaware State with high marks for raising academic standards but offended the alumni association by not consulting them on major issues.

Sessoms said that he traveled to Egypt in May of 2010 to hand out degrees to the university’s Egyptian sister school, Modern Academy in Maadi and the arrangements had to be made at the last minute because Egyptian government officials insisted that he come. While he was overseas on that trip, he toured the
University of Sunderland in Sunderland, United Kingdom to explore further academic opportunities for students and faculty, he said.

There were also concerns about first-class tickets to San Antonio that costs about $2,200 and a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyo., to mix and mingle with the world’s political elite. Sessoms said that he was on university business on each trip.

UDC Students Demand that Sessoms Resign    Print    E-mail
By James Wright - WI Staff Writer   
Thursday, 10 March 2011 23:40

Sessoms said that the first-class tickets are a result of a medical condition that requires he extend his legs while traveling on planes.

He said that the president’s house -- which he did not want -- is the property of the university and the $60,000 Navigator is part of his employment contract. He said he was not able to verify all of his travel receipts due to the university’s antiquated financial system.

“This system is so old. It was old when I was a graduate student,” he quipped.

The president’s answers didn’t satisfy Michael Watson, who is the president of the university’s Student Senate. Watson, 22, said that the president needs to go because he has not been transparent enough about his travel and spending habits.
“We have clocks [that] tell the wrong time,” Francis, 31, said.

“We have doors on campus that many students with disabilities cannot go through. Our money should go to fix those things, not traveling to Sweden.”

Watson said that he, Marsh and Veronica Alcantarra, the president of the university’s Latino Student Association will look into filing a civil law suit against the president for his actions.

Watson said that the student body has had enough. A meeting with Sessoms on March 7 did not satisfy them.

“We want Sessoms to leave UDC forever,” he said.

Offline DES

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2011, 12:01:43 PM »
[

Typical of my city..Basically he has pissed someone off.. And they got 37 students out of thousands to have him removed  ::) ::)

Offline aggiegrad2009

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2011, 12:54:51 PM »
I applaud the students for standing up for what they believe however unless I'm missing something sounds like he is trying to better the school  :shrug:

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Offline DES

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2011, 01:46:12 PM »
I applaud the students for standing up for what they believe however unless I'm missing something sounds like he is trying to better the school  :shrug:

Typical DC bs most people that make change get ran out of town when they are not from here.

Offline TU Madman

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2011, 12:32:26 AM »
Sessions again  :no:
"Winning is our Business and Business is Good"

Offline Capler

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2011, 01:00:26 AM »
I'm with some of you Cats, i just don't see the overt bad here. He could cut back on those first class tickets. If he must go first class he can quell the mob and pay the difference, since he has a personal health issue. I mean, he is making 6 figures, he can afford to upgrade his ticket. When you are the president of a poor school you should be thoughtful on how you spend it's money.

Offline Pmist

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2011, 01:58:13 AM »
When you are the president of a poor school you should be thoughtful on how you spend it's money.

There you go! :nod:

I can't say I would be happy about the first class tickets. I had clots as well and was on coumadin and I still took coach. Just got up and walked around the plane every so often. If the college is as poor as we think, this is the least he could have done. :nod:  I also will say not being a person to listen to students and faculty or at least appearing not to listen is NEVER a good thing.  :no:  Busting up the faculty senate is not going to win you any friends as well. :nod:

Overall I will say what Jaimac has said and leave it alone. :nod: INTERESTING! :nod:



FVSU BMMB

Offline DES

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2011, 02:20:55 AM »
I'm with some of you Cats, i just don't see the overt bad here. He could cut back on those first class tickets. If he must go first class he can quell the mob and pay the difference, since he has a personal health issue. I mean, he is making 6 figures, he can afford to upgrade his ticket. When you are the president of a poor school you should be thoughtful on how you spend it's money.

Trust this bull started because somebody's phone call was not returned or he didnt greet them they way wanted. He has taken UDC to another level really I think this is to get the media off the new mayor and the bribes and job promises he made on the campaign trail

Offline soflorattler

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2011, 07:04:45 AM »
What took them so long? ???

Offline Ramese98

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Re: UDC students stage protest, call for school president's resignation
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2011, 09:23:02 AM »
why does this man stay in trouble in the schools he be at....i remember the problems he had at DSU when he was there...wasn't he the one trying to forgo the schools HBCU legacy?
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