Student leaders take aim at one of their own

Dressed neatly in a shirt and tie, Charles Poteet looked ready for a messy fight early in the morning of March 15.

His colleagues at the Associated Students—elected officials all—called the special meeting at 7:30 that morning specifically to kick Poteet, the legislative affairs director, off of the Board of Directors. Poteet, armed with sheaves of papers outlining grounds for the lawsuit he hinted at if they took action, looked ready to fight tooth-and-nail to stay on it.

It’s a battle that’s not over yet by a long shot, from the looks of it.

The committee called for Poteet’s ouster because, it said, he’s been absent for seven of the last 17 meetings. Five of those absences have been for the last seven meetings.

But Poteet claimed that the ouster attempt has more to do with politics than it does with his absences.

Poteet, a 43-year-old re-entry student with long hair on a board comprised exclusively of preppy 20-somethings, has been a rock in the shoe of his colleagues before. Most recently, he was the only A.S. officer to publicly oppose the Wildcat Activity Center, which was defeated by the students in a vote two weeks ago. While his colleagues were lobbying the measure in classrooms, Poteet was speaking against it at Academic Senate meetings, infuriating A.S. President Jeff Iverson.

But Thursday, the board denied its action was anything but an attempt to follow its own bylaws.

“The bottom line is, you’ve missed a lot meetings,” said Executive Vice President Steve Cox. He pointed to an email warning Poteet about his continuing absences last fall, to which Poteet replied in a return e-mail, “If anything substantive happened at [these meetings], maybe I wouldn’t forget about them.”

Poteet insists that he had dentist appointments and oral surgery scheduled during the missed meeting times, and that his absences should have been excused. He added that the board changed its meeting times last fall when he was sick to a time when he was unable to make it.

While the board appeared ready to vote him off at the beginning of the meeting, Poteet never gave it the chance. He blocked several attempts at a final vote, until the board, citing classes about to start, agreed to table the motion until after spring break.

It was, Poteet said, what he wanted all along.

"It seems fair that I should have a chance to defend myself," he said. "I have some legal research to do."