Demanding answers about sudden resignation

On Feb. 8, then-Texas Student Media director Gary Borders announced his resignation, a move that came as a surprise to TSM board members and student staffers alike.

Juan Gonzalez, the outgoing vice president for student affairs, said in a statement that Borders decided to resign “after meeting with my office about employment expectations. Had Mr. Borders not decided to resign, UT employment policies would have continued to be followed by my office in consultation with the Board of Operating Trustees.”

However, last week, Borders told The Daily Texan he did not wish to resign but was forced to do so by Gonzalez without warning or reason. Borders — who, in practice, was tasked with reporting to both the TSM Board of Operating Trustees and the vice president of student affairs’ office — did not show any sign that he was planning to leave.

Regardless, members of the TSM board, which shares oversight of TSM with the vice president of student affairs’ office, should have been consulted. This resignation comes at a time of tremendous transition for TSM, which currently faces a deficit of $175,000. The board has had two job searches for the director position in the last three years. TSM also needs to find a replacement for the multimedia adviser position, as the previous adviser, who was hired last year, left after only six months.

The resignation of Borders, who served as director for only seven months, reflects poorly on both the University and TSM, though TSM had no say in the matter. So far, Borders’ side of the story is the only one to surface. Though releasing specific details about Borders’ resignation could have various repercussions for the University, administrators should at least provide board members with some answers.

In the meantime, the board must find an interim director in order to fulfill its duties. Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president for student affairs, sent an email Feb. 14 to members of the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees scheduling an emergency meeting for Feb. 17 to discuss an interim replacement for the position. But after it became evident that the board would not meet quorum, board members rescheduled the meeting for Monday. As Lindsey Powers, president of the board and a third-year UT law student, said in an email response to Hammat and to the board, “It is not the University’s place to decide when we meet.”

The University has been anything but transparent in this process. Obviously, the details of Borders’ resignation still remain unclear, and members of TSM — an organization comprising The Daily Texan, Texas Student Television, student radio station KVRX 91.7 FM, humor publication The Texas Travesty and the Cactus Yearbook — deserve answers.

Earlier this week, the University assigned Kevin Hegarty, UT’s vice president and chief financial officer, to address the controversy surrounding Borders’ resignation. However, Hegarty told The Daily Texan shortly after the assignment, “I have recently come into this position and am not familiar with the specifics yet, but I will within the next day or two.” That the University assigned someone who was admittedly unfamiliar with the situation at the time to deal with it
is troubling.

Hopefully Monday’s meeting will provide board members and others interested with more details about Borders’ resignation so the board can determine how best to move forward. Ultimately, any decision in that regard should be left to the board.