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AUSG Senate accepts COA Report and Former Secretary testifies

Shira Stein
Sep 25, 2016 · 3 min read

During the Sept 25 session of the AUSG Senate, the Senate voted to adopt the report of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability (COA). Former Secretary Faith Rokowski also sent a statement of her account of the events of this summer.

By voting to adopt the COA Report, the Senate said that they agreed with its findings. During this session, the report was altered. Instead of the first finding and conclusion reading, “President Torriente asked Faith Rokowski to resign,” it now reads “President Torriente suggested/encouraged Faith Rokowski to resign.” The report also was amended to include Former Secretary Rokowski’s statement and text messages sent by members of the Executive Board that were referenced in Rokowski’s statement.

That statement was given because Rokowski believed it a “disservice” that the transcript of her initial interview was not included in the original COA Report.

In her statement, Rokowski told the Senate what occurred this summer from her point of view.

Rokowski said that President Torriente had told her on June 2 that he had “no confidence in [her] ability to do [her job].” President Torriente told Rokowski that she “was not allowed to hire positions in [her] cabinet” and that “all comm[unications] decisions had to be approved through him.”

Rokowski explained how the relationships between her and other members of the Executive Board deteriorated to the point where “the [AUSG] office was no longer a welcome place for me — Devontae [Torriente] made that very clear.” It got to the point where she “was so afraid of Devontae [Torriente] and Sam [Vervaeke] and what they thought about [her] that [she] would have a serious panic attack every time [she] tried to go in.”

According to Rokowski, “No matter how much Devontae claims he didn’t, he sought my resignation and he forced me out by making the office and all surrounding activities unsafe and anxiety inducing.”

The COA said in their report that “it is abhorrent to this Committee that a member or members of the executive board took it upon themselves to decide for everyone whether or not Faith should be allowed to continue to learn and grow in her position as Student Government Secretary.”

As a result of this report, the Senate is requiring President Torriente to write an apology letter to Faith Rokowski and the American University campus at large. President Torriente will be required to send the letter to the Senate prior to it being released to the public.

During the debate of what should be done as a result of accepting it, some members of the Senate expressed that they want a Judicial Board case to be opened, but nothing has been filed yet.

Multiple members of the Senate also expressed their surprise at the effect the treatment of Rokowski by the Executive Board had on her mental health.

“Say what you will about my job performance, say what you will about my ability to do this job, but I did not deserve to be treated this way,” said Rokowski.

Shira Stein founded The Bottom Line to uncover the truth where other American University news organizations have not.

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