The Impeachment that Exposed the WSA: An Investigation

this article has been the collaborative effort of  sdz,  hen,  fern, and  fos

Late in the evening on Thursday, April 30th, an anonymous student published a blog post on Medium.com titled “On Impeachments & Coverups.” The article alleged misconduct on the part of several WSA members and cited the impeachment of Huzaifa Khan ‘22, who was then running unopposed for the WSA presidency. Until this point, few outside of the WSA had heard about Huzaifa’s impeachment and proximal resignation. The post was disseminated to the student body via the WesAdmits Facebook groups by Fitzroy Pablo Wickham ‘21. Several hours later, Khan issued his own lengthy response via Wes Admits 2023, announcing the end of his candidacy.

These developments came as a shock. Wesleyan’s student government wields far more power than its counterparts at peer institutions (including being directly in charge of over $800,000 in funds), and the members of the WSA are now tasked with leading the student response to an unprecedented global crisis. The last we knew, the WSA was working hard to advocate for students, and its efforts appeared to be running smoothly.

The WSA is pursuing measures to bring aid to Wesleyan students, and many of its efforts have a particular focus on students of first-generation, low-income (FGLI) backgrounds. Alongside the rest of the Leadership Board, Huzaifa took the lead on these initiatives, and was a public-facing advocate for students, both at meetings and on social media. In the eyes of most students, and of this here blog, it seemed that the WSA was fulfilling its duty to represent student interests to the Administration. 

So what went wrong? And why should you care about the wheelings and dealings of our student government? After all, any student group is prone to miscommunications, drama, and other issues, right?

Unfortunately, the Medium post is just the latest in a series of bizarre events we uncovered as we started investigating the impeachment. We learned that Huzaifa was impeached, that he resigned hastily before the WSA could notify the school, that the WSA covered it all up, and that he then ran for president unopposed is nothing less than bizarre. And the fact that this was all happening amidst a moment of not only campus-wide, but worldwide chaos? Well, we were just floored.

It’s true that during this global pandemic, senators have worked tirelessly to distribute funding and critical information. But, these developments raise questions. How did the WSA, an institution meant to represent the interests of the student body, become so entrenched in its own mess? And, how can we trust the WSA to serve students and hold the administration accountable when it seems like it’s struggling to hold itself accountable?

[Editor’s note: a fellow Wesleying editor was personally involved with the people and events detailed in this article. The editor recused herself from this piece.]

 

Click here to see a timeline of the events

Mar. 8 – Mar. 29 – Wesleyan announces suspension of in-person classes and transitions online WSA creates WSA Supplementary Emergency Fund to provide relief to students dealing with COVID 19-related costs.

Mar. 30 – Apr. 12 – Huzaifa messages an applicant for the Emergency Fund via Facebook Messenger. Applicant emails WSA president Justin Ratkovic ‘20 and SBC chair Aditi Shenoy ‘20 informing them of the incident, saying that Huzaifa’s behavior was “outside the limits of professionalism.” Later, Huzaifa sends a message to the applicant apologizing for his behavior.

Apr. 13 – Apr. 19 – Huzaifa decides to run for WSA president. Then-Chief of Staff Adam Hickey ’22 serves impeachment to Huzaifa. Adam and Huzaifa resign. WSA does not continue with impeachment hearings. Two WSA senators withdraw from the presidential and vice presidential elections.

Apr. 20 – Apr. 27 – A haze. Nothing too exciting. WSA elections begin. 

Apr. 28 – May 1 – sdz and hen don’t leave their laptops for 96 hours. Wesleying receives an open letter, and begins working on an article. Three days later, an edited version of the open letter is anonymously leaked on Medium. Following the posting of the letter, Huzaifa suspends his presidential campaign.

May 2 – This article is posted.

 

 

How did Wesleying get involved?

On the morning of Tuesday, April 28th, the authors of an open letter asked Wesleying to publish the piece as a guest post. (This letter was more or less the one posted later on Medium.) Upon reading it thoroughly, we decided that the letter should not be posted in its original form. While it told a compelling story, it contained some derogatory comments, conflicting and omitted information, and serious allegations like abuse and blackmail about specific people without giving mentioned parties the opportunity to respond.

We wanted to do our due diligence, and as such, launched an investigation into the letter’s allegations. This process was not straightforward. We were under a deadline, since the WSA presidential election (in which an impeached and resigned presidential candidate was running unopposed) would close on Friday, May 1st. In the last three days, we’ve led interviews over Zoom, phone, email, and text. We’ve received conflicting information and endless screenshots. We’ve learned more about WSA drama than we probably ever wanted to. We were so deep in the mud, it was sometimes a struggle to step back and remember what the main point of this article was. 

We’re not here to mediate the WSA’s mess, or figure out who said what and when, or determine whether or not impeachment was warranted. Quite honestly, all of that is the WSA’s job, and that’s what the impeachment hearing would have been for. We simply want to provide context and the relevant information.

 

How WSA Impeachment Works

There is no mention in the WSA Constitution of what to do in the event of the proximal resignation of the senator in question.

According to WSA bylaw IV.01, a senator may be impeached if they demonstrate “failure to fulfill their duties to the College Body and/or the General Assembly (GA).”  To be clear, impeachment is not the same as removal. Impeachment is the process of “investigation and presentation of a senator’s violations,” while removal is specifically the “dismissal of an impeached senator from the GA” following a vote. 

An impeachment is not an indictment, but rather the beginning of a conversation. It is an opportunity for WSA and other concerned individuals to ask questions, discuss the charges, and decide whether the grounds are legitimate. 

Former WSA Senator Huzaifa Khan was impeached via student impeachment. During this process, a petition for impeachment must be signed by a minimum of 25 students from the student body (they need not be WSA senators), and then filed to the Chief of Staff. Articles of impeachment are served to the senator by the Chief of Staff within three days of the petition’s filing, after which impeachment proceedings begin. However, there is no mention in the WSA Constitution of what to do in the event of the proximal resignation of the senator in question. 

 

The Impeachment of Huzaifa Khan

The charges brought against Huzaifa were based on the issue of whether he violated the WSA Code of Conduct by contacting a student (“the Applicant”), a former WSA senator who had a pending funding request from the WSA Supplementary Emergency Fund (WSASEF). Huzaifa had instigated the conversation with the individual over Facebook. The Applicant felt that Huzaifa misused privileged information in order to suggest that her funding request was in peril due to decisions she had made during her time in the WSA. 

Huzaifa and Aditi Shenoy ‘20 were the co-leads of the committee which distributes the money from this fund. The committee evaluates each case as a whole, but only Huzaifa, Aditi, and the case’s point person knew the identity of the requestor. In an interview with Aditi, she told us that the committee was “really keen on not asking for too much information.”

Click here to continue reading articles of impeachment

 

Following the conversation between the Applicant and Huzaifa, the Applicant sent an email to WSA President Justin Ratkovic ‘20 and SBC Chair Aditi Shenoy. In this email, the applicant told the senators that Huzaifa’s instigation of a private Facebook conversation was “outside of the limits of professionalism demanded by his public position on the WSA,” and that Huzaifa’s actions had “caused a direct and proximate harm to [the applicant’s] mental and emotional well being.”

Click here to read the full text of the applicant's email

 

As a result of this incident, a petition for the student impeachment of Huzaifa Khan was passed around. Upon reaching 25 signatures, it was sent to Adam Hickey ‘22, the Chief of Staff at the time, and served to Huzaifa on April 16. 

On April 17, a day after serving Huzaifa his articles of impeachment, Adam submitted his resignation. Adam told us he resigned because he was “uncomfortable with the situation Huzaifa’s impeachment placed [him] in as Chief of Staff.” A day later, Huzaifa submitted his own resignation to Justin (under normal circumstances, he would have resigned to the current Chief of Staff). 

 

The Underlying Issues

While reading the transcript of their conversation, we were struck by the degree of emotion that the conversation elicited on part of the Applicant. It felt as if we were  missing some portion of the conversation, something that would have been the smoking gun that incriminated Huzaifa.

We learned that the impeachment was not simply about the Applicant’s situation.

While the impeachment allegations made sense when viewed in isolation, they started to make less sense in the face of the transcript. Khan never brought up the Applicant’s funding in the conversation, but the Applicant did. Additionally, when we spoke with Huzaifa, he claimed that he “did not use WSASEF information in any way to reach out to this person…. The fact that they had a request pending was a coincidence.”

As we spoke to more people with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment articles, we learned that the impeachment was not simply about the Applicant’s situation. Students shared concerns about Huzaifa’s conduct as a WSA senator, and instances of abuse of power that extended beyond the Applicant’s situation. Some felt that Huzaifa had previously used his position and reputation within the WSA to manipulate his personal relationships. The continuation of the impeachment proceedings would have put Huzaifa’s competence as a senator on trial, and the impeachment proceedings would have given individuals a platform to air broader complaints about Huzaifa’s tenure as a senator.

 

Resignations and the WSA Presidential Election

The looming WSA Election was an important factor in these events. Huzaifa had made the decision to run for WSA president on Monday, April 13, three days before Adam informed him of his impeachment. However, he didn’t announce his campaign publicly through WesAdmits until Saturday, April 18, after his impeachment and resignation.

“He wanted very badly to avoid having the impeachment articles sent to the student body and having the WSA consider removal”

Adam, the mediator between Huzaifa and the parties demanding his impeachment, relayed an “offer” to Huzaifa from the individual who opened the impeachment: If Huzaifa dropped out of the presidential election, the articles of impeachment would be dropped and he would remain a senator. 

According to Huzaifa, before he withdrew:

I was confident I would have been acquitted by the GA after explaining the full situation, which was not outlined in the articles of impeachment, but felt that these individuals were leveraging material harm from an all-campus email announcing my impeachment for political gain…. I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of having successfully blackmailed me, so I resigned.

However, Adam pushed back on the notion that this offer was “blackmail”: “Those who initiated the impeachment did not originally, or ever, intend to threaten Huzaifa with impeachment if he would not drop out… the ‘offer’ was not made until Huzaifa made it clear to me that he wanted very badly to avoid having the impeachment articles sent to the student body and having the WSA consider removal.”

[Editor’s Note: We want to note that blackmail is a serious claim that carries legal weight, and anytime a source used this term we made sure to mention this. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, blackmail means “The action, treated as a criminal offense, of demanding payment or another benefit from someone in return for not revealing compromising or damaging information about them” (Emphasis added). As per 18 U.S. Code §?873, the legal punishment of blackmail is “Whoever, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States, demands or receives any money or other valuable thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.” We are not including these definitions for the purpose of arguing that anyone in this story should be convicted or accused of blackmail. We are including these definitions to highlight the severity of this allegation and note that it should not be thrown around haphazardly, especially when you don’t know its full definition, which seems to be the case here.]

Adam then told Huzaifa that if he resigned, he did not believe that the WSA would have appropriate footing to present the Articles of Impeachment to the student body and at the next WSA meeting. Thus, Huzaifa chose to resign and the Articles of Impeachment were never brought up in the WSA General Assembly. 

Huzaifa also continued his campaign for WSA president, against the advice of WSA president Justin Ratkovic, who had privately asked him to consider dropping out due to his impeachment and resignation.

Meanwhile two other WSA senators, Felicia Soderberg ‘21 and Emily McEvoy ‘22, were listed on the ballot for WSA president and vice president respectively. But Felicia and Emily decided to withdraw from the election on Saturday, April 18. Their decision was due to discomfort with the environment of the WSA, especially with regards to Huzaifa’s impeachment process. While interviewing Felicia, she told us, “I was frankly overwhelmed with the manipulation and lack of transparency that I saw second-hand during the week prior with regards to the impeachment and resignations. My running mate no longer felt safe running and I supported her decision.” 

Felicia remarked that she believed the student body should have been notified of Huzaifa’s impeachment, despite his resignation. She also alluded to the possibility that if their campaign were to continue, they might “be accused of ‘blackmail’ (as [Emily] was), or unfair campaigning.” (See Editor’s Note above regarding the term “blackmail.”)

As a result of Felicia and Emily’s withdrawal, Huzaifa and his running mate Chelsea Dixon ‘22 were listed on the ballot as unopposed candidates. Felicia later announced that she would be running for WSA president as a write-in candidate. She says that her decision to run as a write-in candidate was prompted by her learning that Huzaifa’s impeachment had not been announced in any way to the student body. 

The WSA Leadership’s Decision to Stay Silent

After our litany of interviews we were finally able to comprehend the circumstances that resulted in Huzaifa’s impeachment. It was now time that we step back and evaluate the role of the WSA, particularly the Leadership Board.

Justin had privately counseled Huzaifa to drop out from the presidential election. However, there was no way to enforce Huzaifa’s suggested withdrawal

The WSA Leadership Board had decided that, since the impeachment was not going to result in a hearing, the Articles of Impeachment were no longer relevant. (Justin holds that nothing he did relating to the impeachment files was done on his own.) The files were therefore removed from the WSA’s ‘pending legislation’ folder. 

In the eyes of Justin and others on the Leadership Board, this decision was in line with the impeachment precedent set in the case of WSA senator Bodhi Small ‘22 earlier this semester. Justin told us the Leadership Board determined that the purpose of impeachment is a “necessary removal” of an individual, not an evaluation of their job in office. Bodhi had refused to resign from his position prior to going abroad, and, since the WSA necessitates that students be on campus while they serve their WSA terms, impeachment was the only means by which to remove him from the Senate.

And yet, the impeachments of Bodhi and Huzaifa differed greatly in nature. Bodhi’s impeachment proceedings acted as a means to an end: he would be physically incapable of carrying out his duties as a WSA senator, and thus, his removal was imminent. But Huzaifa Khan was impeached because he was alleged to have acted inappropriately from his position as a WSA Senator, a member of the WSA Leadership Board, and as the co-lead of the WSASEF. His impeachment was an evaluation of his actions as WSA Senator. The only way to legitimately complete the evaluation is through a hearing in which the rest of the Senators could determine whether or not his actions constituted  an impeachable offense. 

As previously stated, Justin had privately counseled Huzaifa to drop out from the presidential election. However, there was no way to enforce Huzaifa’s suggested withdrawal. By the WSA Constitution and Bylaws, Huzaifa was well within his right to continue his campaign for WSA president, since any member of the student body is allowed to run regardless of their past work with the WSA. There was no precedent for suspending Huzaifa’s candidacy.

 

So was there a Cover-Up? (We think so.)

Despite what people’s intentions were, the WSA did in effect cover up the impeachment and ensuing resignation.

After many hours of scouring WSA bylaws (a punishment far worse than any suffering unpaid editors should endure), it was hard to categorize any of the WSA’s actions as directly conflicting with their bylaws and constitution. The grayest issue is the fact that there is no record of Huzaifa’s impeachment in any official WSA legislative folders, even though the matter constituted official WSA business.

Justin is adamant that there was no cover up, at least not intentionally. He described the removal of the impeachment documents from the WSA legislative folder as a benign, procedural action, rather than a strategic move to hide Huzaifa’s impeachment from the general public. 

On April 18th, when the leadership board met to discuss how they would go about the impeachment hearing at the following day’s meeting. Then-Chief of Staff Adam Hickey promised Huzaifa that notice of his impeachment “wouldn’t go out in an all campus email if Huzaifa resigned before the Agenda was set”, Justin told us. “We were going off of precedent and the promises made by the Chief of Staff in [Bodhi’s] case”. 

Small had received the same offer, and it was upon his refusal to resign that impeachment proceedings continued and the email was sent. Adam agrees that, when he was asked, he informed Huzaifa that his resignation would mean that the impeachment articles would not be sent out. When Huzaifa resigned, the articles were taken off the agenda of the following WSA meeting, and the articles were removed from the ‘pending legislation’ folder. 

The impeachments of Bodhi and Huzaifa were wrongly conflated, despite their extremely different circumstances. To equate the contested charges in Huzaifa’s impeachment with Bodhi’s light-hearted, quasi-comical process ( in which  Bodhi originally co-sponsored his Articles of Impeachment) seems like a flat-out incorrect comparison. Bodhi’s impeachment was resolved as soon as he was removed from office, but Huzaifa’s impeachment proceedings were about personal accountability. 

To not inform the Wesleyan student body of the impeachment that week–which not only resulted in a resignation but which also meant that potential student witnesses could not speak about their experiences publicly on the record–seems mind bogglingly irresponsible: to the witnesses and to the student body as a whole.

 

The Medium Piece (The leak)

a photo of the header of the medium article

After several days of initial due diligence, we decided a reported piece would offer more context and scope than the original open letter we received, which we made known to the student who sent it to us. At around the same time, we learned that the Argus had also been approached with a copy of the letter we’d received, and they also decided not to move forward with its direct publication. 

6 hours later, on the evening of Thursday, April 30th, the open letter appeared on Medium.com and was posted to WesAdmits. The mystery arose: who posted the Medium article? We could not confirm whether the Medium article was created by the author of the open letter we originally received. 5 hours later, on May 1 at 3:26 am EST, Huzaifa suspended his campaign.

Click here to read the full text of Huzaifa's statement

“I first want to recognize the harm that my actions caused to a fellow FGLI student. I recognized that my conversation with “Jane” caused them distress, and so I wrote them an apology just a few hours after reaching out. The same day, I voted to approve their funding request. I could not imagine it escalating to this.
A few things about what happened should be clarified, and I will be as transparent as possible while still protecting the identities of the students involved.
I did not reach out to Jane because of their emergency funding request, nor did I reach out to them because of a grudge from freshman year. I did not use WSA emergency funding information in any way to contact them, and the fact that they had a pending request was purely a coincidence. On Tuesday 3/31, I reached out to Jane because I had received a screenshot of them insulting me and misconstruing my position on emergency funding requests to other students in a group chat. In the screenshot I received, Jane claimed I did not support funding laptops for students, which was not true. I thus reached out purely and solely to clarify my position on emergency funding of laptops so to stop it from being misconstrued further. Upon reaching out to Jane, I brought up their own decision to not support long term benefits in a previous SBC decision. This was an extremely petty and unfair point I made in a moment controlled by my emotions. I realized what I said was wrong and apologized as soon as I could. One of their friends later told me that they were satisfied with the apology, so I didn’t think to pursue the matter further.
A little more than two weeks later, on Thursday 4/16, I received the impeachment articles from the Chief of Staff. I was really surprised that they were over this matter, which, based on my conversation with this person’s friend, I felt had been resolved. The Chief of Staff expressed that some of the individuals behind the impeachment were willing to make me an “offer”, which was that if I suspended my campaign for president, they would withdraw the articles of impeachment against me and not hold a public trial. At the time, I felt that this was blackmail, especially since the only knowledge I had of the matter was that it was ostensibly resolved 2 weeks prior, but had now come up once people knew I was running for president against a senior. After a day of trying to come to terms with the situation, I became really alienated with the WSA, and resigned. I felt compelled to deliver another apology to Jane (and the cosigners of the impeachment), and did so through an intermediary. My impeachment articles had not gone out to the student body because I had resigned prior to the meeting agenda being created and sent out.
I ended up getting in touch with a separate person who was one of the main people behind this impeachment. They expressed to me that the impeachment was less so about this conversation with Jane and more so over arguments I had with them. According to this second person, their situation was too personal to be included in a document presented to the whole student body, and so they had essentially used Jane’s matter as a cover. This reinforced my perspective that the matter with Jane had been resolved, especially when recalling Jane’s friend saying they accepted my apology. This person expressed to me that they were willing to engage in a mediation process to resolve our disputes, that any notion of an “offer” was misinterpreted by the Chief of Staff, and that they did not wish for this to interfere with the presidential election. They said that they agreed this should be resolved through mediation, and were okay with me continuing on in the race.
This is where I would like to clarify that the current WSA President, Justin Ratkovic, as well as the entire WSA Leadership Board (who was also actively learning about the events in real time) expressly advised me to not continue with my campaign and take a semester off the WSA. It was my personal choice to continue my campaign, as at that point, I had received further (inaccurate) indication that the matter with Jane was resolved, and saw that conflict resolution with the person who claimed to be the main affected individual was clearly moving in a positive direction. I was planning on coming forward about all of this with a statement as soon as possible, specifically at the townhall held on Saturday 4/25, before voting started, but this second individual felt it was better to take more time to write a statement which reflected their perspective as accurately as possible. I firmly believed that they deserved to be heard, and so we had planned to present a co-reviewed statement at the upcoming WSA meeting on Sunday, which they thought was the best setting. In the meantime, I was also in contact with Wesleying and the Argus who were also covering this story, which they had planned to release tonight and tomorrow morning, respectively.
Throughout all of this, I was not aware that Jane’s concern had truly gone unresolved, as everything described above indicated the opposite. Everything had led me to believe it was not at the center of this controversy. If I had known it was, I would never have decided to run for president. I was only in contact with some of the individuals behind the impeachment, and this is what caused my confusion. I completely recognize what I must do, and will immediately suspend my campaign for president. Although I hope this new information will shed light on the nature of my conversation with Jane, as well as this entire situation, I firmly believe that Jane’s desires must be met, so I will not return to the WSA.
I express my sincerest apologies to Jane and the campus community for all of this. As an FGLI student myself, I was and still am personally dealing with several problems since campus closure, including loss of job security and family medical issues. The anxiety and stress which I have experienced over the past month has been unparalleled in my life, and my actions through this time did not reflect the standards I aimed to uphold as a WSA senator. Ultimately however, I accept full and sole responsibility for my actions, for which there is no excuse. I am truly, truly sorry and immensely regretful for everything. I simply cannot write an apology meaningful enough to be anything but insulting. I hope you all will accept it, but understand if you do not.”

As we noted earlier (waaay earlier), the letter as we received it included several derogatory statements about members of the student body, matters that Wesleying does not publish. It’s surprising to us that the original author seemed fine with Wesleying or the Argus including those or seeing them. Those statements were not included in the Medium post. 

Truthfully, the release of the Medium piece wasn’t all bad. (It’s still not great though.) At first, our editors chat blew up. The question was posed, ‘is there even a point in finishing our piece?’ Sure, the Medium piece was only one side of the story, but the student body could finally evaluate Huzaifa’s candidacy in light of his impeachment and subsequent resignation. Must we forge onwards?

Unfortunately, the Medium piece tells just one story and leads readers to biased conclusions. The decision to post the letter without demonstrated verification of its content was reckless. The lack of context might suit the favor of some students, but it was the reason why we chose not to move forward with the story in its original form. 

There’s a reason why campus media outlets like Wesleying or the Argus don’t operate like YikYak or the WesACB

Wesleying has a duty to reach out to the relevant parties in order to piece together a full picture of the situation. We want to be cautious, particularly when reporting on stories with so many moving parts, that may affect the reputations and futures of fellow students. These issues concerning the WSA are undeniably important and time-sensitive, yet the single, anonymous, first-person experience the Medium post stems from requires that we dig deeper. We appreciate the anonymous writers’ intentions “to allow this victim to have her voice finally heard”, but it is our goal to place this one person’s narrative into a broader context.

At points in our investigation, we were told that our choice not to post the letter in its original form might silence the voices of victims of this situation. This is a concern we take very seriously. However, this article is the result of a fundamental aspect of the editorial and journalistic process: Claims need to be verified, both to protect those coming forward and those against whom allegations were made. 

To expect an independent media outlet to voice personal opinions about other students without expecting that your words will be fact checked is not an issue of being silenced. No one is entitled to this space without question, especially when they ask their identities be kept anonymous while they make serious allegations about other students with only a limited scope of information. As was made clear by the Medium post, if you wish to publish your unfiltered, possibly one-sided account, the means are readily available.

While there are legitimate conversations to be had around access, students have an equal opportunity to reach out to publications such as Wesleying and the Argus and make the case that their voices be heard. However, the staff of Wesleyan’s respective publications are allowed, nay obligated, to ask questions. We have the final say about what we choose to publish, and that’s a good thing. There’s a reason why campus media outlets like Wesleying or the Argus don’t operate like YikYak or the WesACB.

 

What happened with the Election?

The Medium article alleviated us from our initial goal of ensuring that the student body could make a more informed vote. Students quickly took to WesAdmits to voice frustration that they had cast their votes before learning about Huzaifa’s impeachment and resignation, as well as anger and disappointment towards the WSA for their silence on the matter. One student made a post with instructions on how to “void” their votes. With one day left in the election, and many students having already voted, students’ options were limited.

When we spoke with Mitchell Motlagh ’20, he continued, “Student government is already fraught with favoritism where student groups that are “darlings” of the WSA receive preferential treatment. I would imagine that same courtesy extends to their own, whether they see it that way or not… Intention or not, there needs to be more transparency and light needs to be shined into the murky organization.”

Although Huzaifa issued an apology in which he suspended his campaign early on Friday morning, his name was still on the ballot. Votes for him would no longer be counted, but those students also could not vote again. 

Numerous people launched guerilla social media campaigns for themselves as write-in candidates. Felicia Soderberg, who had previously been on the ballot before she withdrew, continued her campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Others who campaigned for president included Emily McEvoy, who previously ran as Felicia’s running mate, George Fuss ‘21, Rowan Beaudoin-Friede ‘22, and Mingma Sherpa ‘22, along with Natalie Selfe ‘22 for VP. 

The WSA did not suspend nor extend the election, and the question stands as to whether this was truly a free and fair election at all.

WSA Senator Sam Brumer ‘22 noted on Facebook that the WSA is planning to discuss the election at this Sunday’s meeting. Unfortunately, this may be too late. At this point, the only thing the WSA can do is facilitate a recall of the President, which requires getting 1/6 of the student body to sign a petition for a referendum.

 

Where does this leave the WSA? And what the heck do we do now?

If you think the events we laid out in this article were convoluted, they are only a fraction of the texts, calls, screenshots, and other receipts that people sent us. We uncovered evidence that revealed all sorts of alleged interpersonal drama at play. Some was very serious in nature and other drama seemed, frankly, petty as fuck. So much of what we heard was not confirmable and highly personal, and was ultimately not fit to be published.

We learned that the WSA is a certifiable mess. There are allegations that a WSA senator made students feel unsafe. A former WSA member was fully prepared to let campus media publish an open letter to shed light on the WSA’s discombobulation, and it was only the tip of the iceberg that led to this whole story. Numerous individuals would not speak on the record because they were afraid of what would happen if their names got out. Huzaifa’s resignation and the WSA’s silence and cover-up hindered testimonies that could have shed light on the motivations behind the impeachment. 

The undeniable truth is that this situation should not have gone on for as long as it did, and it definitely shouldn’t have reached this point of escalation. Interpersonal drama in student government is inevitable in the college setting, especially at a school this small. It’s clear that it affected the WSA’s ability to function in this case, but will that always be true?

We have Wesleyan students who are facing real hardships and relying on the support of campus leadership, which the WSA purports itself to be. But it seems like this very leadership is spending precious hours and days squabbling with each other over group chats. The WSA has done a tremendous amount of good work since the COVID crisis first hit Wesleyan’s campus, but we must call on its members to remember that their roles come with power: power granted by fellow students in the confidence that the WSA is serving them. It shouldn’t take an anonymous Medium post (or a Wesleying article) for the WSA to see that maybe transparency and accountability are a good idea.

 

Corrections:

5/2 at 5:23pm: We originally stated that Bodhi Small had voted in favor of his own impeachment. A member of the WSA reached out to clarify that although Bodhi did not vote in his impeachment trial, he was originally listed as a co-sponsor of his Articles of Impeachment before the primary sponsor removed him.

5/2 at 6:38pm: We originally listed Felicia Soderberg as Class of 2022. She is Class of 2021.