Amid broad criticism from students and his staff, outgoing Student Association President Vishal Aswani called his tenure a “maturing year” for the entire SA.
Aswani said he wants to focus on what he learned from disputed events he had backed, like the Unity Ball and the inaugural float, rather than discredit them.
“All the different Student Association projects that have occurred this year have definitely had benefits as well as areas for improvement,” Aswani said. “I’m still happy with every project implemented by myself and every member of the Student Association.”
Colleagues began accusing Aswani of paranoid and elusive behavior within the first months of his term. In December, Aswani’s executive cabinet told him to “shape up” or expect resignations.
A few months later, Aswani’s chief of staff, Greta Twombly, publicly criticized his leadership skills in a biting resignation letter, leading students to question Aswani’s leadership abilities.
“A Chief of Staff cannot serve effectively if their boss will not even return their calls, respond to e-mails and refuse to meet with them,” Twombly wrote in her letter of resignation. “By pushing me out and isolating himself amongst a close group who refuse to question him, even when it is necessary, [Aswani] has become something I can no longer support.”
Despite the resignations Aswani maintains that he did the best he could, trying to overcome the downfalls of working with a diverse group of people.
“Anytime you deal with a group of students who have jobs, social lives, are training for marathons, etc., being able to manage them to successfully, devote the necessary time to being advocates and leaders for the students, takes a lot of time and work,” Aswani wrote in an e-mail. “I think, as a whole, the SA has been able to get through its own hurdles and continue the missions from day one.”
Outgoing Executive Vice President Kyle Boyer was more candid with his regrets of his term in office.
“I think when you are part of an organization, everyone shares some fault for the rise and fall of the organization. I certainly was not perfect,” said Boyer, a junior. “There are a lot of things I would do differently, but at the same time, the president is ultimately responsible for what happens in the administration.”
Boyer said he wished he “spoke up sooner” and “had a larger role,” during his time in the SA.
“The SA should never be in the party planning business. I love parades, but that should not be an SA project,” Boyer said, referring to the inaugural float. “Advocacy on a whole is free.”
SA President-elect Julie Bindelglass begins her first day in office on Friday. Students who worked for Aswani and are moving on to positions in the Bindelglass administration are looking back at this last year as a learning experience.
“We had successes last year, but what I think you are going to see with Julie is a return to a practical approach,” said Dan Curran, Bindelglass’ chief of staff and Aswani’s vice president of undergraduate student policy. “I don’t see Julie starting any broad overreaching projects. I think she will work with students and ask for input.”