Changes in Luther’s student senate following recall of president


The Luther Student Senate met for the second time this semester on September 14. Graphic courtesy of Student Senate

On Thursday, April 14, the Luther College Student Senate met for their weekly meeting. While a variety of topics were discussed, the majority of the meeting consisted of proceedings regarding the recall of Kelao Charmaine Neumbo (‘22) as President of the Student Senate, and preliminary discussions related to the restructuring of remaining Executive Board positions and members. 


Neumbo was not available for comment in relation to this story. Multiple members of the Student Senate’s Executive Board were contacted for comment, and chose to provide statements collaboratively to CHIPS due to the sensitivity of the issue. 


According to the Luther College Student Senate constitution, any Senator who fails to uphold the duties and responsibilities of their position can be recalled by a two-thirds vote of the Senate. In the case of Neumbo, the executive board first extended a censure (an expression of formal disapproval) to her during a meeting on March 31. In their statements to CHIPS, members of the Executive Board explained that this was due to the Student Senate being governed by Robert’s Rules of Order. Under Robert’s Rules, organizations may issue a censure to a member if they are behaving in a manner not in standing with the expectations of their appointed office. 


“For the Luther College Student Senate, [a censure] serves as an official warning to [a senator that may be recalled],” Members of the Executive Board said. “If the behavior that the Student Senate deems unacceptable continues, the [Senator] may face suspension or expulsion from the Student Senate in the event the actions are repeated in the future.”


The matter eventually escalated to a recall vote on April 14, during a session of the general Senate assembly. During the meeting, members of the Executive Board and General Senate, representatives of other parties, and Neumbo were allowed to speak about their feelings regarding the motion, supporting or opposing the proposition. Following a vote count by an impartial official, in this case Vice President for Mission and Communication Brad Chamberlain, Neumbo was relieved of her duties as President.


Because of this recent change, the Student Senate has made some shifts in leadership for the remainder of the semester. Alice Odame (‘22) will assume the role of President, while Salomé Valdivieso (‘23) will take over as Vice-President. Alexis Johnson (‘23) will become the new Secretary and Max Holt (‘22) will remain the Treasurer. Even though this restructuring is happening near the end of the semester, Dean of Student Engagement and Student Senate faculty advisor Ashley Benson assures that these changes will not have a negative impact on the Student Senate’s plans for the rest of the year. 


“Members of the Senate are ready to continue with the business of the organization,” Benson said. “The student body should know that the Senate takes their work seriously and wants to represent them in the best way possible. [The] Senate’s goals moving forward are to focus on the [upcoming] election and handling the general business of the senate. Also, the Senate is preparing for the Board of Regents visit. Business as usual is the goal.


As they begin the process of moving forward with new leadership, members of the Executive Board want to emphasize that the decision to pursue recall was not taken lightly, and members individually had to reflect on the situation.


“Each of us [had to] come to our own conclusions about the situation before we could come together and figure out the best way forward,” Members of the Executive Board said. “The precedent we set will set the tone for future administrations of the Luther College Student Senate.”