Student leaders, staff mum on departure

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Jorge Posadas at a men’s basketball game Feb. 11, 2009.  File

Jorge Posadas at a men’s basketball game Feb. 11, 2009. File

Former student life director is considering legal representation.

By FAITH DUARTE

fduarte3@student.alamo.edu 

Leaders of campus organizations and co-workers who have worked closely with former student life Director Jorge Posadas did not have much to say about his departure Nov. 9.

As director of student life for more than six years, Posadas worked with student leaders through Presidents Round Table, Student Activity Fee Committee, Student Government Association and campuswide activities such as Antojitos Festival, Octoberfest, Rodeo Roundup and FunFest.

While Posadas was director, the office of student life established a formal dinner and awards ceremony each spring to honor the most outstanding members of student organizations.

All of these events were produced with the help of the staff of the office of student life.

Dr. Robert Vela, vice president of academic and student success, confirmed Nov. 12 that as of Nov. 9, Posadas was no longer an employee of the college, but declined to specify details because “it’s a personnel matter.”

Although Posadas declined to comment after The Ranger contacted him at his home Wednesday, he said he was “looking at a few options” for legal representation.

Emily Kahanek, assistant coordinator of special projects, was named interim director of student life Wednesday, Vela said.

Multiple phone calls to student life secretary Mary Schlabig; student activities specialist Carrie Hernandez; and Jacob Martinez, assistant coordinator of leadership and activities, were not returned.

Mark Bigelow, assistant coordinator of leadership and activities, declined to comment and directed questions about Posadas to Vela.

“Because it’s very sensitive, I asked them just to refer them (questions pertaining to Posadas) to me,” Vela said.

Psychology sophomore Jacob Wong, Student Government Association president, declined to comment Nov. 12 when asked about Posadas.

Wong had worked with Posadas since 2010, while Posadas was still nonvoting chair of the Student Activity Fee Committee. Posadas resigned over the summer and was replaced by Emma Mendiola, dean of student affairs. Wong also led campus tours under the direction of the office of student life.

SGA Secretary Justin Wideman, biology sophomore and activity fee committee member, also declined to comment Nov. 12.

The president of Gay Ally Lesbian Association, which has sponsored campuswide events such as Coming Out Week, expressed sadness at Posadas’ departure. “It is always sad to see someone leave,” GALA President Rene Orozco, advertising and public relations sophomore, said. “Some things can’t be helped.”

Orozco said students should be a top priority for the next director of student life.

Charlie Castleman, program director for college radio station KSYM 90.1 FM, said, “I didn’t know the man personally, but from what I had seen, he seemed to be a very malicious and vindictive person who had an agenda of his own, and I didn’t think that was in line with what the students wanted.

“I think that we need more equal representation of the student population on committees like the Student Activity Fee (Committee),” Castleman said. “It seems to be that a few students have all of the power when it comes to deciding what the students’ money is being spent on, and (this situation) is not representative of the actual population of the students.”

Mendiola said Wednesday about hiring a director of student life that, like any college employee, the person in that position should be “student-friendly” and “responsible.”

“Any of our roles here, I think, are extremely important in terms of the growth that we would like to see in our students,” Mendiola said. “A lot of times, that means being able to be a lot like good parents without diminishing the adult status of our students.

“No matter what role we’re in, in an educational institution, we all teach to a certain extent, and so being able to do that in a positive way, I think, is important.”

Posadas created controversy during his six years as student life director.

He presided over closed meetings of the Student Activity Fee Committee, which handles an estimated $400,000 budget that is generated through the collection of $1 per credit hour per student. College President Robert Zeigler ordered the meetings to be open Nov. 16, 2011.

In February, the committee met without a quorum and approved $5,721.97 for four organizations. A meeting was canceled in May because of a lack of a quorum.

In April, the committee proposed a student activity fee budget of $800,000, which included a line item of $70,000 for a second student newspaper. The budget would have required doubling the activity fee and approval from the district board of trustees.

Posadas received local and national coverage after telling a Ranger editor in an email Oct. 17, 2011, that he would “negotiate an appropriate fee” for interviews.  After Posadas demanded a fee for Ranger interviews, Vela accompanied Posadas in an interview with The Ranger in February “to ensure a good interview process,” Vela said Feb. 9.

For more information, call Vela at 210-486-0931.

Rebecca Salinas and Alma Linda Manzanares contributed to the story.

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