Student Association President Phil Meisner announced Wednesday night that he plans to dissolve the SA and form a new student government in the wake of his impeachment by the Senate last week.
Over the past weeks, I, and many others, have realized that the SA no longer functions as a student government, Meisner said in a brief statement at J Street.
Meisner said he has administrative support for his decision but would not elaborate. He met with other student leaders Wednesday afternoon to discuss options for a new student government.
The administration has given us an opportunity to fix what was broken, he said. Several student leaders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it would take a public announcement from a high-ranking University administrator or the Board of Trustees to recognize a new student government, which would dissolve the current SA.
The only other way to dissolve the SA is through a referendum. Ten percent of the student population must sign a petition and then the student body must take a vote, according to the SA Constitution.
Meisner said Wednesday he will attempt the referendum route and hopes to have a special election before Thanksgiving.
Caity Leu, executive vice president of the Senate, declined comment.
He’s forming his own organization where he can’t be removed, graduate Sen. Jeff Baxter (at large) said. He’s trying to bypass 27 elected members of the Senate to get his own way.
Last Friday, 16 senators signed a petition impeaching Meisner on eight counts, citing mishandling of funds and his responsibilities. A trial for his removal is scheduled for Tuesday.
Meisner said last week he would fight the charges and attempt to keep his position. Senators need a two-thirds majority on any impeachment count to remove him from office. Wednesday he apologized for his mistakes.
I made many mistakes, but I’m all-too human, he said.
Leu will assume the presidency if Meisner is removed.
Meisner said he plans to submit a new constitution Thursday for a provisional government and pull the registration for the current SA from the Student Activities Center. But funding and resources would not be allocated to a new government unless it has administrative recognition or student support through a referendum.
Student leaders who met with Meisner on Wednesday agreed with the realization that student government has not been functional at GW in the last several years.
But some are hesitant to see rapid change.
When you’re changing 25 years of work, you have to have a little bit more haste than six hours, said Mike Petron, Marvin Center Governing Board chairman, who met with Meisner and other officials Wednesday afternoon.
Petron said he thought Meisner’s concern for change was genuine but said people meeting to discuss the issue were concerned it may be seen as a reaction to his recent impeachment.
Several senators questioned the legality of his action. Undergraduate Sen. Cathy Resler (CSAS) said she and other senators have yet to be officially notified of Meisner’s intent to disband the SA.
This is the perfect example of shadiness, undergraduate Sen. David Burt (at large) said. People hate the SA, and times like this I’m ashamed to be a part of the SA.
-Theresa Crapanzano, Matt Berger and Matt Besser contributed to this report.