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MSA president-elect steps down, Payton Head steps in as interim president

By Danielle Katz, Daniel Konstantinovic, Aviva Okeson-Haberman, Lauren Petterson, Nina Ruhe and Ariel Sierra

In a matter of a few hours on Wednesday evening, the Missouri Students Association experienced multiple inaugurations and resignations.

After heavy deliberation, an emotional Haden Gomez addressed the MSA Senate to announce he would be resigning from his position as president-elect effective immediately.

“I am just a person, and I wish that that had been respected more than it was,” Gomez said. “I hope you use this to move forward with leadership that hopefully the student body can trust.”

Chris Hanner was then inaugurated as president.

“Do not let your personal bias get in the way of progress for students, because I’ve seen a lot of that in this chamber,” Hanner said in a statement immediately following his inauguration. “I’ve seen a lot of that from the leaders of this organization, and I don’t want to see that anymore.”

Hanner appointed Payton Head as his vice president and then said he would be resigning effective at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, meaning Payton Head will resume his role as MSA president during the interim period. Head appointed the now-former MSA Senate budget committee chair, William Vega, as his vice president.

Vega said the conversation about being Head’s interim vice president came as a surprise and happened “literally four minutes before” he was appointed.

A special election will be held to elect the 2016-2017 MSA president and vice president. Head’s continued term as president will end after this election occurs.

Throughout the meeting on Wednesday, students expressed their concerns about president-elect Haden Gomez and vice president-elect Chris Hanner and the GroupMe messages that were leaked to The Maneater.

The messages referred to a controversy surrounding their campaign infractions. In an interview in December, MUTV asked Gomez if he was aware of the notification that Pocket Points sent out congratulating him on his election win prior to it being sent out. Gomez denied that he knew Pocket Points would be sending out notifications once he was elected.

“If I did have the foresight to know that that was happening, I would not have let that happen,” Gomez said in December.

The GroupMe messages between Gomez and his campaign managers revealed they paid Pocket Points to promote their campaign.

Students at MSA Senate on Wednesday expressed concerns about Gomez and Hanner’s character.

Heather Parrie, who ran for MSA vice president, said she is appeased with Gomez and Hanner’s resignations.

“What happened tonight at senate, though it took a long long time to get there, is the best thing that could have happened for the students,” Parrie said.

Parrie also spoke about her personal relations with Gomez, specifically an interaction with him at a Tour Team social event. She explained the interaction, which she had referenced during MSA Senate.

Jordan McFarland, who ran for MSA president in the 2015 and 2016 MSA elections, said he thought Hanner was putting students first by resigning.

“It’s sad it came to this. Mizzou deserves better,” McFarland said.

McFarland later told MUTV that he plans to run for MSA president in the special election.

“We have many reforms to make, many movements to be a part of and many students to listen to,” McFarland told MUTV. “The events that happened tonight are not indicative of who we are, and we need to move forward.”

When asked if he plans to campaign with previous running mate Jonathan Segers, McFarland said, “I’m sure we’ll be having that conversation sooner rather than later. There’s a lot to be considered.”

Syed Ejaz, who ran with Parrie for MSA president, explained why he thought it took this much time to shed light on all of the issues associated with the Gomez/Hanner campaign.

Gomez tweeted after MSA Senate about some of the comments that students made about him.

Gomez and Hanner could not be reached for further comment at the time of publication.

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