The following is a response to my response to Maria Castigliola’s letter to the editor (which can be read in it’s entirity under the post “Maria’s Letter to the Editor”)…The slap in the face, really, is because while sitting in these SGA meetings, you Jama did not speak up. You sat there, not saying a word, but only raised your hand when asked for objections. You couldn’t argue with your colleagues, couldn’t stand up for your constituents in the face of the opposition. Instead, you walked out of there to the media and and any other organization that would listen. No, I was not at these meetings, but your fellow senators who have been “treating you with the upmost respect” talk. A lot. This is politics, and people talk. So while you bravely go standing up for your constituents, stand up to the right people. Maria Castigliola

The following is a letter that I gave to each member of the SGA before I publicly apologized at our meeting on October 11 (two days before Maria’s letter appeared in the East Tennessean). I can admit when I make a mistake, and certainly not speaking with the SGA before pursuing other avenues is one that I will never make again. I am open to constructive criticism, the likes of which was given by Bekah Edgar immediately following the Commission Meeting – quietly, and to my face – giving me the chance to prepare my statement to the SGA apologizing for not giving them the chance to answer my concerns during our meetings. I will always have the utmost respect for Bekah for coming to me personally and saying “Where the heck did that come from?!”
By the way, I have to say that I got a hearty laugh from Maria’s characterization of me as a “shameless resume builder” (see “CR’s You’ve Gotta Read This” post). My greatest career goal is to be a mother of many children, and I got great pleasure in imagining my children leaving the womb and asking to see my resume…
As I said, I am always open to constructive criticism…I truly appreciate being held accountable for my words and actions. If I’m wrong I want to know why; if I’m right I want to chance to tell you why. Personal attacks (especially ones that are so inaccurate!), however, serve no purpose and show the flaws in the one attacking, not the one being attacked. Maria may have had some good points, but wrapping them up in bitterness and what appeared to be some serious hatred took away from what might have been a solid argument (Steven Edwards’ letter was a good example of focusing on an argument rather than personal grievances.)
Anywho, I ate a little crow at the October 11 SGA meeting, and I’m not afraid to admit it…

JR, Josh, Aya, Cabinet, and Senators:

I have been made aware that some of you have become upset with me during the last week. I will not apologize for speaking up on behalf of students who didn’t feel as though they were being represented by the SGA. What I am truly sorry for is not speaking to you all first. In all honesty, I didn’t even think about it (but rest assured that, in the future, speaking to you will be the first thing that I do!). I felt that your minds had been made up and that the students that I was representing would best be served by speaking to those who were undecided on the issue. What I forgot was that we are a team, here to serve all of the students, and for me to not allow your input was wrong.

Please understand that I appreciate your opinions, and for me to assume that you would automatically discount my views was a gross underestimation of your integrity. Those of you to whom I have spoken have proven yourselves to be upstanding individuals who are entirely comfortable with opposing views, but entirely uncomfortable with being blindsided. Again, I apologize for appearing secretive.

I hope that we all can continue to work as a team on behalf of this university, and I hope that we can all be friends even through our mistakes and opposing opinions.

Senator Jama Oliver