Six committee chairs resign from BAC in last six weeks

By Gus Bode

Winstead blames personal problems

Six of the 10 Black Affairs Council committee chairs have resigned in the last six weeks, citing unprofessional behavior by the council leader and improper money handling.

Council Coordinator Kevin Winstead denied any improper money usage and blamed the turnover on personal feuding.


Four of the resigned members cited unprofessional behavior on behalf of the leader as their reason for leaving. One member resigned for undisclosed reasons, and another did not return calls for comment.

The most vocal former member is Taurian Harris, a junior studying political science from Chicago. Harris served as the council’s ombudsman, meaning he attended University meetings and reported back to the group. He quit last week saying Winstead, a junior studying marketing from Chicago, handled money improperly.

Specifically, Harris said he was referring to more than $1,720 the council raised for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. However, Harris said he did not ask how the money was being handled before resigning.

Student Development has accounted for all the money except $250. Winstead said that money was donated to the Mixons, a New Orleans family displaced by the hurricane living Carbondale who the council has helped.

There is still $934.27 of the $1,720 of the hurricane relief money remaining in Student Development yet to be donated to a charity. Student Development records show about $500 has been withdrawn to help various hurricane victims who have relocated to southern Illinois. The aid process has been slow, Winstead said, because he has never organized a similar charity drive.

As for the unprofessional behavior, he said it was nothing more than a personal rift between himself and Harris. Three of the other resigned members are close friends of Harris, Winstead said.

The rift spawned from a birthday party for the Mixon’s youngest daughter. Harris organized the party assuming the council would pay for it. Council rules state that only officers can authorize money transactions, and Winstead said no officers did so. The celebration was eventually paid for from the council’s unrestricted funds.


Winstead said he plans to call his father and ask for roughly $100 to replace the money spent on the party.

“We just didn’t have the money in our budget at the time to pay for the birthday party,” Winstead said.

Christine Guerra, a senior studying political science from Chicago, resigned Oct. 14, also citing unprofessional behavior. However, she said there were no personal issues between herself and Winstead.

“I have no problem with the Black Affairs Council and Kevin Winstead, period,” Guerra said. “There’s no bad blood, but the way the organization is being run needs to be worked on.”

JoAnna Rutledge, a sophomore studying exercise science from Calumet City, worked as a secretary in the council office until Monday when she was fired by Winstead. Rutledge went to high school with Winstead and said she has no personal ties to Harris or any of the other council members.

She also said a personal rift did not cause the conflict within the council.

“They were good chairs, and they did their jobs very well,” she said.

She blamed the resignations on poor leadership and said when she was fired, Winstead was ambiguous about the reason.

Winstead said Rutledge was fired for telling another student organization he was never in the office and did not do anything,

The coordinator stuck by his assertion that the resignations resulted from personal battles.

Other members who resigned are:Tamika John, Derrick Gutter and DeJuan Kea.

Reporter Zack Quaintance can be reached at [email protected]