Brinkley resigns as student body president; VP Rowell sworn in


Selena Favela

Shelby Rowell is sworn in as student body president by Teri Hall, vice president of student affairs, during SGA on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.

Three days after Student Body President Kenon Brinkley was accused of sexual assault in a personal blog post, a new student leader has taken his place.

Shelby Rowell, previously vice president, was sworn into office at Wednesday’s Student Government Association meeting following Brinkley’s resignation Wednesday morning.

“I care about this university dearly, and have been honored to serve, but with a heavy heart I feel it is best for everyone involved for Student Government and I to part ways,” reads a portion of Brinkley’s written resignation, quoted in an SGA release.

Prior to her swearing-in, Rowell addressed the Student Senate and a crowded gallery — the largest audience at an SGA meeting this school year. Many students were there in support of three women who shared stories alleging abuse by Brinkley.

“We realize that this is a difficult time for the university,” Rowell said. “The student body is our first priority, and they deserve action.

“This present situation has highlighted some constraints in the [Legislative Journal] that we feel need to be addressed.”

The Legislative Journal acts as a sort of constitution for SGA. It contains statutes and bylaws that dictate its operations, including the process for removing a member from office.

Rowell said an ad hoc committee will be formed to review the journal for potential amendments, which will be publicized if made.

Rowell was elected vice president of the 61st SGA Session alongside Brinkley in 2018 on the unopposed “Revival” ticket. The two were the first to run unopposed in a student election at WSU since 2005.

A double major in political science and french, Rowell has been a member of SGA since April 2017. She joined as a liberal arts and sciences senator her sophomore year and has served on both the Educational Opportunity Fund and Student Fees committees.

“He did what he thought was best for the Association and we respect that,” Rowell said of Brinkley’s resignation in an email. “Procedurally, it allowed us to move forward without pursuing a Senate Review Board case.”

The Senate Review Board is a board that can be formed under the Legislative Journal for the review, sanction, or removal of an SGA member.

As an association, Rowell said SGA has no “purview” over allegations made against Brinkley, but will listen to survivors that wish to address the senate.

Despite the difficulty of handling allegations against Brinkley and his resignation, Rowell said it has proven SGA can “address hard situations with professionalism.”

In her last year as an undergraduate at WSU, Rowell said she looks forward to seeing how SGA handles approaching topics such as the Shock the Future referendum, student fees, and student elections.

Chief of Operations Matthew Madden was sworn in to Rowell’s former position as student body vice president.

The SGA cabinet says the chief of operations position will remain vacant for the rest of the 61st session, but its responsibilities will be shared among sitting members of the cabinet.

Because of a conflict with Madden’s class schedule, all remaining senate meetings of the 61st Session will start at 7 p.m. instead of 6:30.

Student Advocate Kitrina Miller will host public discussions about resources for sexual assault from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 and 1-2 p.m. on Feb. 27 in RSC 264.