The storm of controversy surrounding the impeachment of Student Association President Phil Meisner and his pledge to dissolve the SA intensified this weekend as new fears arose about funding for student groups.
Tuesday’s impeachment trial and the circulation of petitions to dissolve the SA have many students wondering what will happen to allocations.
Student groups will never be jeopardized, Meisner said Sunday. We’re not abandoning the SA. Everything is remaining the same.
Caity Leu, executive vice president of the senate, said the SA is not dissolved and is still in full function.
The SA will continue business as usual, she said. Until the SA is officially dissolved, everything will continue as normal.
Leu acknowledged reports of the resignation of Amy Reich, vice president for Financial Affairs. Reich served as the administrator of SA funds and, according to the bylaws, no specified person controls funds in the absence of the vice president for Financial Affairs.
Assistant Vice President for Student Academic and Support Services Mike Gargano confirmed Reich resigned from her position.
That resignation creates some confusion in the use and execution of funds and calls into question certain events planned this week, Leu said.
A barbecue is planned as an awareness event using SA funds, Meisner said. He denied reports of the event being used to support his position but said that petitions to dissolve the SA will be available.
We want to heighten awareness of what’s going on, he said. Individuals can make the choice if they want to sign, he said.
Undergraduate Sen. David Burt (at large), who is the chair of the Finance Committee, said the SA bylaws clearly state any event used for campaigning is in violation. He said if Meisner has spent any money on his petition campaign, he is in violation of the bylaws.
After being impeached nearly a week earlier, Meisner held a press conference Wednesday announcing his plan to create a new student government that would advocate and bring about change.
Some senators said they believe Meisner’s calls for dissolution of the SA and the circulation of petitions are a political ploy and a response to impeachment.
I wouldn’t presume to guess what’s in President Meisner’s mind, graduate Sen. Jon Rodeback (CSAS) said.
Meisner said his plans to dissolve the SA predated his impeachment.
I think we were all coming to the realization that things weren’t working, he said.
Meisner cited specific difficulties with the SA’s bylaws and said there is too much power within them.
The spirit of the bylaws is now gone, he said. As it stands now, the executive (branch) is set up for failure. So much executive power is vested in areas other than the executive (branch). You have a legislative body acting as a supreme branch of government. There’s supposed to be a balance.
Leu supported the bylaws and said the Senate most fully represents students.
There are 29 popularly elected officials of the SA and 28 of these are in the legislative branch, she said. That is why the power lies in our legislative branch.
One-tenth of the student body must bring the dissolution to a referendum vote, and then two-thirds of the student body must vote to disband the SA.
I could not possibly see students voting to get rid of their only representation with the administration, Burt said.
Meisner said he remains hopeful as the trial for his removal nears.
I’m looking forward to defending myself, he said. This is a totally political act, and the charges are frivolous.
But Meisner did apologize to the student body for his past actions.
I can stand out there with my arms outstretched and say I’ve made mistakes, he said. I wish circumstances could have been different.
-Francesca Di Meglio contributed to this report