Student Congress President, Vice President resign minutes before impeachment hearings


Photo courtesy of Perhogan/Jankowski

Former OUSC President Adeline Perhogan and Vice President Annabella Jankowski.

Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) President Adeline Perhogan and Vice President Annabella Jankowski have both resigned prior to their impeachment hearings. Their resignation coincides with the resignation of four other Executive Board (E-Board) members and one Legislator since the beginning of the fall semester. 

The E-Board spent the summer embattled with OUSC Legislators. The main issue dividing the sides was the apparent refusal to compensate Legislators for the hours they were working.

Despite OUSC specifically budgeting salaries for Legislators, Perhogan put off filing the necessary paperwork through the Office for Student Involvement (OSI) for Legislators to be paid. She did, however, follow the procedures for E-Board members to be compensated. 

Perhogan, Jankowski and other E-Board members were paid while Legislators worked for free. This dynamic persisted throughout almost the entire summer despite repeated inquiries from Legislators about what they needed to do so Perhogan could complete their hiring process and they could be compensated. 

“Several times I asked [Perhogan] to submit my paperwork,” OUSC Judiciary Chair Andrew Romano said. “It seemed like it was always another excuse to why they couldn’t get it submitted in time. After we budgeted for it, and after that was approved, and after the Handshake thing came up, then it was [a new excuse] … There was a resistance … it was being delayed as much as possible.”

OU uses a hiring service called Handshake for hiring. Student Organizations post ads on Handshake, students apply, then a hiring process is completed through the organization (in this case OSI) and Student Financial Services. Students cannot receive compensation for their work until this process is completed and OSI has a policy of refusing any back pay.

To help combat any confusion over compensation, Legislators began working on specific legislation outlining procedures to make sure that everyone could be compensated moving forward. This was met with resistance from OSI Senior Director and OUSC advisor Jean Ann Miller. Tension came to a head during a meeting last May.

“Jean Ann was upset with me for pushing for Legislator compensation,” OUSC Legislative Affairs Director Jordan Tolbert said. “ … The main argument that I had for wanting people paid was that I thought that not having Legislators paid [while paying the E-Board] creates a hierarchy …[Miller] said, ‘Why not have a hierarchy? They work harder for their positions. It’s harder for them to get these positions than it is for you.’ And I was like, ‘No, it’s not. [E-Board members] get hired in and we have to go through a whole process to become a legislator’ … She had been very adamantly against it the whole time. I wanted it done. I thought we could do stipends. She said no. I thought that we could do [less] hours. She tried to say no, whatever it was like she just didn’t like it … and was actively involved in resisting Legislators getting paid. At that meeting, she pretty much just ripped into me.”

The Post reached out to Miller. She declined giving an interview at this time. Though, according to Tolbert, she apologized generally to all involved in that meeting shortly afterwards.

Following that meeting, OUSC passed a budget for the summer semesters that allowed for a maximum of $32,307 of compensation for E-Board members and a maximum of $12,936 for Legislators. President Perhogan and Vice President Jankowski were budgeted a maximum of 30 and 40 hours per week respectively. The other E-Board members were budgeted maximum hours between 10 and 20 hours per week. Legislators were budgeted maximums between five and eight hours per week.

It is worth noting that it is not uncommon for student workers in SAFAC organizations to work less than their maximum budgeted hours. According to the budget spreadsheet, actual money paid out in salaries was $7,450 total for E-Board members and $0 total for Legislators. These numbers are contested as being incorrect by former Director of Financial Affairs Ethan Bradley, who says the sheet is outdated and that he hadn’t updated it updated since July 12. He also says those figures were incorrect at the time because he copied some numbers wrong.

According to Bradley, based on the hours in OUSC’s summer time sheet, the accurate figures for money paid out is $16,291 for E-Board members, and $473 for the few Legislators who managed to get their paperwork completed. 

Despite passing the budget in June and OUSC rules at the time allowing for Legislators to be paid, compensation was put off until a bill laying out specifics for Legislator pay could be passed. According to Bradley, the point of waiting until this bill could pass was to prevent Legislators making arbitrary changes to the payment plan. That bill passed on July 26. Still, compensation for Legislators did not follow for weeks.

It is worth noting that Legislators were not compensated during last winter semester either despite funds being budgeted for their salaries. According to then-President Ethan Bradley he made attempts to post Handshake ads that fell through.

“I submitted the form to have legislative positions posted on Handshake multiple times and somewhere beyond my control it fell through so that the application was never posted,” Bradley said.

His statement is consistent with what’s written in the Feb. 9 meeting minutes executive report, which says “President Bradley said … He has resubmitted the request for the Legislative Chair position on Handshake as it is still not up.”

After two consecutive semesters of struggling for compensation, Legislators refused to pass a budget for the fall semester. Without a budget being reconciled, no one in OUSC was being paid. Gridlock with the legislature and not being paid was enough for some members of the E-Board to resign, others were facing articles of impeachment.

On Sept. 13, Vice President Jankowski resigned minutes before her impeachment hearing and Director of Student Services Bailee Gierman resigned. On Sept. 16, Director of Financial Affairs Ethan Bradley and Director of Sustainability Mallory Kean resigned. On Sept. 20, President Perhogan resigned minutes before her impeachment hearing and Director of Marketing Jadah Fletcher resigned.

The organization is now working to reset and fill vacant positions. Following these resignations, the two remaining members of the E-Board are Director of Diversity & Inclusion Murryum Farooqi and Student Activities Funding Board Chair Alex Garcia. Steering Chair of the Legislature Jeremy Johnson now serves as acting President until elections can be held. He has uploaded ads onto Handshake so whoever the next president is can have options to fill these positions.

The Post will be following up on this story with specific details on budgeting and compensation, as well as allegations of harassment and retaliation that occurred within the organization. 

In addition to Miller — Perhogan, Jankowski and OUSC advisor Jessie Hurse were all approached for an interview prior to this article being published. They have yet to respond.

This article was last updated 7:56 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26.