After Johns' resignation, Student Association looks ahead
Selsky serving as interim president until reelection in October
Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013 19:09
At 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Student Association President Nick Johns signed his resignation papers in front of Vice President Lyle Selsky and Treasurer Siddhant Chhabria.
Johns was accused of harassment, inappropriately accepting gifts, mishandling SA funds, hiring personal friends over more qualified candidates, being absent from important events and falsifying documents.
A petition for Johns’ impeachment was circulating and had over 2,000 signatures.
In a written statement to The Spectrum, Johns said he resigned because the “prolonged conflict would create fundamentally irreparable fractures in the structure of the SA.” He also said he could have beaten the charges against him because the “ridiculous” allegations were “unsubstantiated and [the] evidence [was] circumstantial.”
“Win or lose, it would have clouded the entire academic year in a mire of discontent and distrust,” he wrote. “How could I possibly trust the individuals who were responsible for attempting to publicly assassinate my character? Even worse, how could we all be expected to work together in a cohesive and transparent environment?
“I found it to be much more practical to cut all of our losses and attempt to give the SA a chance to reboot.”
Selsky became interim president immediately after Johns’ resignation. He will still serve as vice president.
Johns, a junior, will not be paid the remainder of his $12,000 stipend. Selsky is unsure if he will get paid more during his time as temporary president. If he does, he said he will split the money with Chhabria, who now has a more integral part in leading the staff.
Chhabria said he and Selsky met with Johns earlier this week to discuss his future in SA. They advised Johns to do “what was best for him,” and they both felt Johns’ resignation was the right choice.
“He still has two years here,” Selsky said. “He has a lot to look forward to and he didn’t want this bringing him down in the future. I can understand that and respect that … As much as we put everything into this, we do have a life after SA. And sometimes you have to look out for what’s best for you than what’s best for the students and I think he made the right decision.”
Asked if he thought Johns was at all responsible for the position he was in, Selsky said, “Whether or not he did something wrong, he put himself in the position to be seen as such. So, in part, he is responsible and, in part, everyone involved is responsible.”
Chhabria and Selsky advised Johns to consult a lawyer, but they were unsure if he had done so.
Selsky said his main goal as the new leader in SA is to stabilize the organization. He said it is important for the students to know that SA will move past the controversy and be stronger because of it. He added that he knows the organization needs to reestablish its image and he plans to make SA “foolproof” to prevent problems in the coming years.
“SA has a rebuilding process to go through,” Selsky said. “Whether the public knows what’s going on … I hope to restore some faith and get everyone on the same page and make sure everything is fully functioning so when the next guy comes in, they can hit the ground running and not have to shore up any holes that have been left from this scandal.”
Chhabria agreed. He said SA will move forward from this misstep and will still have a successful year.
“We had a bumpy, rocky start to our year,” Chhabria said. “But what’s done is done. This is a fresh start.”
Chhabria said he and Selsky plan to have meetings with the entire SA staff to discuss what the resignation means for the organization.
Selsky said he thinks becoming president has the power to change people, something he said might have happened to Johns.
“Being given such a huge responsibility for any person who has never done something like that before, it’s always going to be difficult … People handle it differently,” Selsky said. “Giving someone that much responsibility will change them one way or another.”
Chhabria said an election for a new president would take place at the end of October. Students seeking to run for president need 200 signatures and person numbers from students.