In a special meeting on Thursday, May 18, the Student Assembly adopted a resolution which installed Patrick Kuehl ’24 as S.A. president, who was the runner-up candidate in the presidential election.
Kuehl’s installment follows the removal — immediately after being sworn in — of incoming president Pedro Da Silveira ’25 due to allegations of sexual assault. A conflict between the S.A.’s charter and bylaws left both Kuehl and executive vice president Claire Ting ’25 with a claim to the position.
Ting will remain in the position of executive vice president.
Section VI of the charter implies that Kuehl — as the presidential election’s runner-up — would have the right of first refusal to the position in the event of a vacancy, while section II, clause 3 of the bylaws state that Ting — as the executive vice president — would assume the office of the presidency in the event of a vacancy.
The S.A. asked the Office of the Assemblies to help remedy the issue, but the director of the Office of the Assemblies Jessica Withers delegated the responsibility of resolving the situation back to the S.A. on May 11, according to an email sent to Student Assembly members that was obtained by The Sun.
Kuehl and Ting therefore worked with the S.A. Office of Ethics to produce Resolution 3: Implementing the Office of Ethics’ 2 Recommendations on Presidential Succession, which both of them — along with ethics committee chair Alhassan Bangura ’25 — co-sponsored.
Bangura presented the Office of Ethics’ findings as a proposal entitled “Resolving Governing Document Conflict and Establishing a Consistent Method for Presidential Succession in the Student Assembly” to the S.A., which stated that even though the charter does not explicitly claim supremacy, its status as a corporate charter gives it precedence over bylaws.
The Office of Ethics also decided that the presidency was an office with an ex officio S.A. seat, and that the two documents were therefore in conflict. As a consequence, Da Silveira was also removed as a member of the S.A. when he was removed from his position as president.
Following Bangura’s presentation of the Office of Ethics’ findings, Ting presented Resolution 3, which will formally recognize the supremacy of the charter over the bylaws for the purposes of succession to vacancies, require the S.A. to address the discrepancies between its bylaws and charter within the first three meetings of the Fall 2023 semester once the freshman and transfer representatives have been elected and make the Office of Ethics’s proposal publicly available. By recognizing the supremacy of the charter over the bylaws, Kuehl would automatically be given the right of first refusal to the S.A. president position.
The floor was then opened to debate. However, no S.A. members came out against the resolution, only asking clarifying questions of the sponsors. Following this brief period of debate, the resolution was passed with unanimous consent. Kuehl then accepted the position of S.A. president and vacated his previous position as S.A. vice president of internal operations as well as his seat on the University Assembly.
Kuehl recognized Ting’s hard work throughout the process, praising her dedication and willingness to work together.
“The removal of Pedro is not something that I foresaw coming, or I think anybody really foresaw coming,” Kuehl said to The Sun. “I’m grateful for Claire, the fact that she is such a strong and understanding human being and that we were able to work together through this process and both very simply be able to present our arguments to the Office of Ethics.”
Kuehl went on, saying that since he and Ting did not yet know who would be president, they shared the duties and worked in tandem with one another.
“Claire and I have had daily phone calls and talked to each other throughout this process,” Kuehl said. “Everything we’ve done, we’ve done in tandem, since we didn’t know who was going to be president and who was going to be vice president. And I really look forward to that partnership going forward, allowing us to work together and really make positive change for students here.”
Ting also praised Kuehl’s work during the succession crisis, saying her working relationship with Kuehl has only grown stronger as they worked together to solve the issue.
“I particularly appreciate our efforts to not only figure out the succession issue in an impartial way but also our endeavors for both internal and external S.A. reform,” Ting said to The Sun. “We’ve both agreed that the executive vice president should be empowered to work closely with the President in all leadership capacities, and our respect for one another has only grown.”
As S.A. president, Kuehl intends to begin working on his campaign promises, chiefly among them being his promises to build community on campus and to increase the visibility of the S.A.
“The Student Assembly, at its core, is a forum for discussion on different issues on campus, and how to solve those issues,” Kuehl said. “Sometimes we need to adapt and change to be able to meet those problems. Collaboration is key, and being able to put out that the Student Assembly is for the students to be able to see and participate in is really important.”