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College Dems execs resign after SBP endorsement incident involving BSAA member

Three executive members of the College Democrats at Miami University (Dems) have resigned in the wake of events involving a Black Student Action Association (BSAA) member at a Dems meeting on March 10.

Members of Dems confirmed to The Miami Student that President Omar Elghazawi, the former Membership Director and the former Treasurer are the executives that stepped down from the Dems executive board.

At a March 10 Dems meeting called to endorse a student body president candidate, BSAA Social Cultural Co-Chair Gina Ridenour participated to inform Dems that Vada Stephens was the only candidate to reach out to BSAA for their input on his campaign platform. 

Dems endorsed Stephens’ slate with running mate Lena Giang. But during the meeting, Dems members asked Ridenour to prove that only Stephens had contacted BSAA.

A statement on BSAA’s Instagram says Ridenour experienced “hostility” and “accusations of falsehood” when asked for proof of her claim, and that only her comments on student body president platforms garnered this type of response.

Elghazawi decided to resign due to the Dems executive board’s handling of this situation.

“This is a situation that I truly regret the events of,” Elghazawi wrote in an email to The Miami Student.

The Dems Membership Director declined to comment on his resignation.

Dems took the weekend to vote confidence or no confidence on each executive board member, and none were removed by the vote.

In an Instagram statement, Dems apologized for the incident and said that executive board members will complete bias training.

Stephens and Giang’s campaign felt affected by the incident. Campaign manager Ben Finfrock and Stephens himself agreed the incident likely contributed to Stephens’ defeat. His slate lost the election to Madelyn Jett and Aidan McKeon by 4.44%.

“Speculating that this cost me the election is not far off,” Stephens wrote to The Student.

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Finfrock said a statement by executives sent to a Dems group chat on March 11 did the most damage by dividing commitment to the campaign within the organization. It cautioned Dems members against misinformation and reminded them to think critically about which candidate they decide to support.

“We took issue with that statement because it made it seem like they were backtracking now on this endorsement to their members instead of encouraging them to support and vote for us,” Finfrock said.

BSAA’s statement expressed will to use this situation to reflect on how Black students are treated at Miami.

BSAA President Athena Williams declined to comment further on the events, and Ridenour could not be reached for comment.

@jakeruffer

rufferjm@miamioh.edu

Correction: A previous version of this article stated there were two resignations from the College Democrats executive board. The article has been corrected to reflect that there were three resignations.

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