In an otherwise calm Student Association Senate meeting, a Columbian College of Arts and Sciences senator challenged SA President Jason Lifton Tuesday night, accusing the president of overreaching his authority and threatening a student organization.
SA Sen. Jason Kaplan, CCAS-U, questioned an e-mail Lifton sent to The GW Patriot, a student-run blog, after a senate meeting late last month. In the e-mail, Lifton confronted the Patriot on what he called its inappropriate behavior and personal attacks on specific senators, and referred to its liveblog comments as “completely out of line and rude.”
Kaplan took offense to Lifton’s reference to the SA as “my organization.”
“I want it understood that this is the students’ organization, not your organization,” Kaplan said, reading from prepared remarks. He continued, saying he was most concerned by what he perceived as a threat by Lifton to restrict the Patriot’s access to the SA.
“Your comments were out of line and certainly do not reflect the opinions of the members of this senate,” Kaplan said.
Lifton responded to Kaplan’s attacks, saying he was offended by the content in the Patriot’s liveblog and did not see responding to them as an overreach of his executive authority.
“I think you’re thinking too much into the ‘my,'” Lifton said. “I was offended by [the Patriot’s] attacks and I was speaking as the head of this organization, not as though it was mine.”
Kaplan said he confronted Lifton in public to catch him off guard.
“He’s a smart guy, I know he would have put something together that would have contradicted everything I had said,” Kaplan said. “He needs to be held accountable and I think that’s the problem we’ve been having in the SA in the past. Jason is walking all over the SA thinking he is above us, which is false. We represent students just like he does.”
While Kaplan said that the “other senators did not have the courage to step up to [Lifton],” SA Sen. Travis Holler, ESIA-U, noted that Kaplan’s disagreement with Lifton was a “waste of time.”
“I think it dragged the meeting on longer and was unnecessary,” Holler said. “Jason handled it appropriately, though.”
Kaplan will introduce the Student Association Accountability Bill to the Senate in the upcoming SA meeting Oct. 19. The bill will potentially create an ethics committee that will hold members of the SA accountable for their actions.