As outgoing Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President Thomas Watral passed the gavel to Vala Zeinali, and USG symbolically transitioned power from the outgoing administration to the incoming members of next year’s administration.

Shortly after the new government was called to order, former Senator Kevin Cline addressed USG and presented a letter, signed by former Senators Annelise Stopar, Harrison Sorm and Connor Hren, and former Directors Dylan Berkshire and Mackenzie Michalojoko. The letter warns “An ineffective or unqualified Chief of Staff can severely cripple USG,” and opposes the appointment of Claire Weihe as Chief of Staff due to her relationship with new USG President Vala Zeinali, presenting the group with a potential conflict of interest. 

USG Meeting

Chief of Staff nominee Claire Weihe poses for a portrait before the April 24, 2019 Undergraduate Student Government meeting.

The letter also alleges “Senator Weihe made disparaging comments towards members of the body at a public meeting that accused them of wrongdoing based solely on their biological sex and self-identified gender,” noting such behavior “does not stand in congruence with the values of USG and the University.”

Weihe’s nomination came to the floor for debate, during which several senators and directors commented on her leadership skills and experience as a senator. USG confirmed Weihe’s nomination by a vote of 15-6 with two abstentions.

"With my proven track record as a USG Senator for 2018-2019, I applied for the Chief of Staff position because I feel I am a qualified candidate." Weihe wrote in an email, "I believe my previous work in USG shows my commitment to our diverse student body and my passion to make positive change."

Aside from Weihe’s nomination, USG approved the appointment of all nominees to senatorial positions and established a new position “Administrative Assistant to the President.”

Director of Community Affairs Peter Kierstead proposed the formation of a USG committee to review and clarify several rules and bylaws in USG’s charter.

To view the full list of the 2019-2020 USG administration, click here.

David Williams is a senior reporter. Contact him at dwill191@kent.edu.

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