The Norman Topping Student Aid Fund Governing Board passed three motions at an emergency meeting on Thursday, including one to void Provost Michael Quick’s elimination of the Topping director position.
The first motion stated that the provost’s decision to restructure the Topping Fund, specifically the removal of Christina Yokoyama’s position as Topping Director, be voided and held invalid due to the lack of consultation and communication between the governing board and Quick. The motion was passed unanimously.
To address any potential issues with the program’s funding in the future, the second motion moved to “freeze all NTSAF funds, specifically any salary reallocations or changes made to the NTSAF operating budget, NTSAF endowment and student fees allocated to the NTSAF until the USC senior administration reverses the decision” to eliminate Yokoyama’s position.
This operating budget includes the salaries of Yokoyama, associate director Trista Beard, NTSAF Governing Board Chair Sierra Williams, and three existing graduate assistants.
The third motion, passed unanimously, specified that Quick must abide by the governing board guidelines and reverse any decisions that have violated the guidelines, including the elimination of the director position.
“We made these resolutions to make sure that the administration was not overstepping our authority as the governing board,” Williams said.
The approved motions come the same day Topping students organized a sit-in at Tommy Trojan to protest the changes.
Since the provost’s memorandum last Friday notifying the modifications made to the overall organization of the program, Topping scholars, alumni and several faculty members have united to request a reversal of the provost’s decision and have Yokoyama’s position reinstated.
While Williams initially planned to go over the governing board guidelines with vice provost of undergraduate programs Andrea Hodge and assistant vice provost David Glasgow in attendance, both notified the governing board 15 minutes after the scheduled meeting start time that they would not be attending.
“David and I will not be able to attend the emergency meeting tonight,” Hodge wrote in an email to Williams, obtained by the Daily Trojan. “We look forward to meeting all of you soon.”
Williams explained that Hodge and Glasgow’s presence was expected, since Hodge had previously requested to meet with the board.
Neither Hodge nor Glasgow immediately responded to multiple requests for comment.
Earlier on Thursday, Topping scholars also gathered at Tommy Trojan to protest the provost’s decision.
This past week, David Delgado, a Topping senior majoring in gender studies and theatre, and several other members of the Topping Fund spearheaded the sit-in at Tommy Trojan.
During the sit-in, which lasted six hours, scholars held posters that read “#SaveTopping.” The scholars also requested that students sign an online petition addressed to Provost Michael Quick, which was launched Wednesday night.
By the time of publication, the petition had received 1,202 signatures.
“With an escalation plan, you want to slowly grow your movement,” Delgado said. “We didn’t want to do anything large and extremely verbose … Right now, we just want to touch the bases and make sure that the student population knows about what’s happening, that they are able to sign the petition if they support it and that they can get involved if they would like.”
On Friday, Yokoyama will be meeting with Quick to further discuss the reasons behind her elimination from the Topping Fund.