Candidate made to resign early

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

A number of election-bound ASUU executive cabinet members will resign their posts within the next month, but one director says he was unfairly asked to leave weeks before others planning to run for office.

Associated Students of the University of Utah President Spencer Pearson and Vice President Basim Motiwala asked Campus Relations Director John Bowers to step down in mid-November, although Pearson said that other directors positioning themselves to run for office wouldn’t have to leave until the end of the semester.

“It was definitely their choice, but I felt a bit bewildered and confused that they had asked me to resign but not others in my similar situation,” Bowers said.

Pearson said the difference in the timing of the resignations was based on projects the board directors are working on.

“There are different circumstances each is dealing with, so you kind of have to deal with them separately,” he said.

Bowers plans to run for vice president in the Spring elections. Jessica Fawson, director of Student Outreach, plans to run for student body president with a separate party. Patrick Reimherr, director of Recycling and Sustainability, is also positioning himself to run for president, although he said he didn’t want to officially announce candidacy because “nothing is set in stone.”

Directors running for office typically resign in December so their replacements can make transitions before the year starts, although candidates usually don’t have to file until the end of January.

Pearson said Reimherr asked to stay so he could finish projects before the semester ended, including getting the university to sign sustainability agreements with other schools.

Bowers said he is also working on projects and did not think being asked to leave early was fair. He was coordinating a holiday service project with the ASUU service board and Latter-day Saint Student Association when he was asked to resign. Since then, he hasn’t been involved with the project and said he doesn’t know if it will go on.

Pearson said they asked Bowers to leave so they could transition a new Campus Relations director for the next semester and move forward with planning for the United Leadership Conference for student groups in January.

Tayler Clough, a member of the Campus Relations board, is replacing Bowers.

ASUU Senate Chair Ryan Jensen said the Senate Executive Committee recommended to Pearson and Motiwala that all executive cabinet members planning to run should resign together.

“We suggested that it would be more fair if everyone resigned at the same time so that new directors could be trained and hired,” Jensen said.

The issue of leaders resigning mid-year concerned senators earlier this year when directors gave their letters of intent and were confirmed by the Senate, Jensen said.

He said not all directors committed to staying in the position for the full year when asked about their plans. The Senate approved all directors, but not unanimously.

Jensen said Pearson and Motiwala seemed to agree with the committee’s recommendation. They are in the process of hiring new directors.

Bowers said he thinks it is probable that office gossip caused leaders to ask him to resign early. He said he wished Pearson and Motiwala would have contacted him earlier to sort things out.

“I don’t like gossip and don’t want to perpetuate gossip,” Bowers said. “It’s more important to me to maintain good friendships.”

Pearson said he hopes the elections will not create strains in the office.

“They do develop, but it’s usually not good for individuals, their parties or candidates,” Pearson said. “They should put their heart into it but not get caught up in the tensions that sometimes evolve during elections.”