SUNO student chief out

Controversy over supervisors’ vote cited in removal

Southern University New Orleans student body President Marc Guichard was removed from office Monday, casting doubt on who will represent students on the Southern Board of Supervisors.

Guichard, who sits on the 16-member board, said the problem began with his October vote in support of a plan to give the system office control over some administrative duties historically handled at the campus level. He said the vote sparked a campaign against him that led to death threats and eventually his removal as president of SUNO’s student government association.

“It’s disappointing that some people who were not privy to the same information that I had would say that I was against SUNO,” Guichard said. “I’ve received threats over this. Somebody said I should have been lynched.”

The chief justice of the SGA Supreme Court, whose name is Chancellor Cole, said Guichard’s removal was based on the SGA Constitution.

“He was removed for not meeting the qualifications of his office; for failure to fill out his executive cabinet; and for poor performance of his job,” Cole said. “Evidence was presented at trial, and the judges voted based on that evidence.”

Cole refused to say how the five SGA Supreme Court justices voted. “The justices elected not to release the vote. All I can say was that it was not unanimous,” and “it was not close,” he said.

Guichard said he plans to appeal the Supreme Court’s decision. He has until 5 p.m. Tuesday to ask for a rehearing in front of the same student judges that voted to remove him.

His permanent removal as president would trigger a vote to appoint a new SUNO SGA president. It is unclear whether SGA chapters at any of other Southern’s campuses in Shreveport and Baton Rouge could weigh in. Students at Southern’s campuses elect one person from their ranks to represent students on Southern’s Board of Supervisors.

On Oct. 26, at the Southern board’s annual meeting in Shreveport, Guichard was part of the majority in 10-5 vote for Southern System President Ronald Mason’s cost-savings plan to centralize each campus’ Accounting and Information and Technology departments under the system office.

Supporters said the plan would eliminate duplication and give the university a path forward during tough economic times. Opponents described the plan as a power grab that would fundamentally change the university’s structure and give the system office more direct control over the campuses, rather than its current role of overseeing policy.

The problem, Guichard said, was that the plan’s opponents won the messaging war and sold it as something that would destroy SUNO.

“Because of our budget situation, we have to make the necessary adjustments,” Guichard said. “It was hard for some people to understand that. People felt I betrayed them.”

SGA Vice President Brian Grant took to Facebook a few days after Southern’s board meeting and called Guichard’s vote “unethical” and lacking “integrity.

“Our SGA President Marc Guichard voted in favor of the consolidation plan proposed by President Mason. Basically he voted against us, the student body,” Grant wrote.

Southern board Chairman Darren Mire said Guichard is technically still a member of the board until the SGA sorts out who will be its student representative. He acknowledged there was some “internal rivalry” with SUNO’s SGA that may have lead to Guichard’s ouster, but declined to “get involved with their internal politics.”

“Marc understands his role as a member, he has done a good job studying the issues; I think he’s been a great member,” Mire said.