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Senate President resigns after ‘disorderly intoxication’ charges

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The abrupt resignation of Students Senate President Nick Southall was a shock for most, a welcome change for some and presents an unforeseen second semester challenge for certain key members of Senate.

Southall resigned on Tuesday, Dec. 24, after being charged with “disorderly intoxication” while in St. Petersburg, Fla. for Ohio University’s bowl game performance in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. A representative from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office later said Southall did not know where his room was located, was screaming obscenities at police and had to be restrained using a stun gun.

Vice President Anna Morton will replace Southall, who declined to comment, at Senate’s first general body meeting after winter break. In a statement, Morton apologized on behalf of Student Senate and expressed her disappointment in her colleague’s actions.

“It is dissatisfying that Student Senate has gone through multiple hardships and now a change in leadership,” she wrote. Morton alluded to her future ascension to Senate president and her willingness to pull Senate back onto its feet.

“I pledge to the Senate and the students of Ohio University, my dedication to them and my promise to, every day, be working for their betterment,” the vice president wrote. “I look forward to the new challenges, responsibilities, and opportunities this position holds in front of me.”

“I ask and welcome all students to please come to me with their ideas for how we together can build a stronger Senate for Ohio University.”

Southall stepped down from his position as undergraduate Student Senate president at about 4 p.m. Dec. 24 at the advice of Ryan Lombardi, vice president of student affairs and senate adviser, after his arrest Monday on drunken-disorderly charges in St. Petersburg, Fla., surfaced on social media.

Southall was attending the Beef ‘O’ Brady ‘s Bowl, where the Ohio Bobcats football team was matched against East Carolina. He rode to Florida on a university-sanctioned bus, according to photos on his Twitter account. Authorities arrested Southall at 2:50 a.m. Monday morning and took him to the Pinellas County Jail, where he was booked at 4:05 a.m. and released at 6:13 p.m., according to booking information online.

Southall’s arrest comes after a series of student government controversies that have marred the first half of the 2013-2014 school year. On Sept. 1, the now-former president sent out a tweet directed toward women on “walks of shame.”

The now-notorious tweet generated a call for action among the Senate, as well as an apology from Southall, who then saw a decline in his approval rating by the Senate executive-voting body in November. At this meeting, 19 members—or 57 percent of the Senate body—placed votes of “no confidence” in Southall, skimming the surface of the two-thirds vote needed to remove him from office immediately. This vote came a day after Southall said he was doubtful the undergraduate Senate would follow the graduate Student Senate in holding itself to the standards of operating as a public body under Ohio Sunshine Laws.

Graduate Student Senate President Joel Newby, who led the upholding of graduate Senate’s standards under the state’s Sunshine Laws, expressed his disappointment in Southall in a statement, saying the undergraduate president’s actions had “embarrassed Ohio University.” His resignation, Newby wrote, “was the best thing for Student Senate.”

“I believe that the body can heal and move forward under the leadership of Anna and Austin,” he wrote, speaking of the current vice president and treasurer. “They are very intelligent and capable leaders. I look forward to working with them.”

Others believe Southall’s actions are a mere symptom of what they see as an unrepresentative public government at Ohio University.

“It’s embarrassing it took an event like this to remove such an ineffective leader from office, especially after Senate just reaffirmed their confidence in Nick a few weeks ago,” said Matthew Farmer, who ran for Student Senate president and lost to Southall. “The culture needs to radically change in Senate, and it is clear that will not happen with just the people currently in the organization.”

-Kaleb Carter and Jesse Bethea contributed to this report. 

 

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One Comment

  1. […] And if you ask the parties, the stakes have never been higher. Ohio University’s Student Senate has been in the spotlight for a number of unfortunately negative reasons over the past year, the climax of which was the very public arrest and subsequent forced resignation of the body’s president Nick Southall. […]

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