Blake levels racism allegations at final ASG meeting

Jennifer Leopoldt

Associated Student Government’s last Senate meeting of Spring Quarter ended with allegations of racism against Bryan Tolles, ASG’s executive vice president, in connection with the allocation of senator spots for student groups.

The accusations, which Tolles strongly denied, came after senators at Wednesday’s meeting passed 10 pieces of legislation, including five emergency bills. The evening stayed busy to the end, when Michael Blake called for Tolles’ resignation in vehement speech.

Blake accused Tolles of denying senator seats to black student groups, specifically stating that Tolles and the Executive Committee initially named only 21 student group senators when the ASG Constitution requires there to be 22. But Tolles said he refuses to back down, and ASG President Mike Fong said officers would not pursue disciplinary action against him.

Blake, a Medill junior, said a student on Executive Committee told him Tolles said blacks were being overrepresented in ASG, which Blake said could be the reason some groups, such as CaribNation, initially were denied a senator spot.

“His comments are blatantly racist,” Blake said, equating the actions to a quota system.

At the climax of Blake’s speech, Tolles left his seat and said, “Fuck you” before leaving. He later Tolles told The Daily he considered Blake’s allegations a personal attack and left because he had “had enough.”

“The minute he equated me to the Jim Crow South and lynching I had to leave,” said Tolles, a Weinberg sophomore.

Tolles denied any racism and said the mix-up happened because the Executive Committee guidelines changed Winter Quarter to say the committee could appoint up to 22 senators, whereas the ASG Constitution said there needed to be exactly 22 positions.

Matt Hall, ASG secretary/parliamentarian, said no one caught the discrepancy between the guidelines and the constitution until last Wednesday and at that time Tolles moved CaribNation, the first student group on the list of five alternates, into the vacant senator spot.

But Blake said he still wanted Tolles to resign.

“Just because one thing happens that you like doesn’t mean you ignore the things that are wrong,” said Blake, who added he was speaking solely on behalf of concerned students, not as a former For Members Only coordinator and ASG presidential candidate.

Fraternity Sen. Ted Haller said Tolles is committed to minority issues and questioned Blake’s motives for criticizing Tolles.

“To use quotes based on hearsay is completely inappropriate,” said Haller, a Medill sophomore. “(Tolles) is not going to let one person and a few friends trying to make political gains ruin his vision.”

The 10 pieces of legislation passed at the meeting included a bill to create a student task force to respond to hate crimes, a resolution denouncing the “administration’s failure to alleviate the pressing concerns of minority students” and legislation asking Evanston City Council to delay redistricting decisions until fall.