BY BETH PETER
The president of the Student Government Association (SGA) was ousted mid-semester after he was found to be ineligible for the position.
Stanley White was elected to the post in May but graduated on Aug. 30. White neglected to inform the school of his status change, and the college neglected to verify his enrollment status.
“As we go through the semester we are always looking at the status of any of our officers,” said Janique Caffie, dean of enrollment management and student development. “In doing so, reaching the mid semester just to make sure everyone is doing well academically, it was discovered that Mr. [Stanley] White had graduated.”
Malik White, digital media studies major at the County College of Morris (CCM), is now the president of the SGA.
“It’s tough to do a transition in the middle of the semester, so it’s been a challenge,” said SGA co-adviser, Don Phelps. “Malik was the only member of the executive board so he has lot’s of positions to fill.”
Malik White was the vice president prior to the change on Oct. 14. Since his appointment, Andrew Ginsberg, public and nonprofit administration major at CCM, has been named treasurer. Ginsberg was treasurer of the SGA last year as well.
According to Caffie, one of the stipulations for presidency is that the student be in a degree seeking program
Caffie said Stanley White had been unable to attend the college council meetings, at which his role would have been to read the SGA meeting minutes. Malik White has been attending them in his place.
Malik White had undergone training with Stanley White during the summer months to prepare for the fall semester, but he had been focusing on his role as vice president. Now Caffie said the school is working to help him understand his new responsibilities.
“Everybody in SGA is fine with Malik coming in,” said Ginsberg. “They’re happier with him than with Stanley.”
The current SGA has had a rough semester thus far. Caffie said she felt they were struggling to work together, but she hoped that with Malik White as president, they would be able to work more cohesively together.
“The mood for this year was already set, which was unfortunately negative, but I’m trying to make sure there’s no bad blood,” said Malik White. “People need to come together and realize that we have problems and we need to start working together.”
Malik White was chosen as president due to his previous position as vice president.
“It’s like what would happen in the case, any time the president of the United States has to go under the knife,” said Caffie. “When that happens then the vice president just steps into the role until such time that the president is back on his or her feet.”
Caffie said they plan on keeping Malik White as the president through the entire academic year.
“He would be president for the remainder of the academic year if he so chooses,” said Caffie. “If he chooses to step down then the next step for the institution is to hold new elections, and that’s what we would do. Until he tells us otherwise, he is the SGA president.”
Malik White is not planning, as of now, to step down during the year. It has been a challenging transition for him, but he has the support of his adviser and he said he would like to see the position through.
“I only had one day of training,” said Malik White. “Don has been very helpful. If it gets too overwhelming, Don and Dr. Simmons said I can step down to vice president until I’m ready to run for president again.”
Caffie said the school would ultimately support him if he chose to make that decision.
“It is hard to step into a position that you didn’t originally want to have,” said Caffie. “He ran for vice president, that’s what he felt he was capable of contributing at this level of his academic career, his leadership career here at CCM. He’s expressed his own concern about his ability to be the president, so it’s a learning experience for himself.”
While according to Phelps this is not the first time a transition has been made mid-semester, Caffie said she believes this is the first time in her tenure here that it has happened. She further said that, it may be a rare situation at CCM, but this is not an unusual experience in a professional environment. This could be a learning experience for members of the SGA.
“It’s not easy to work with people who are like yourself as well as different from yourself, so hopefully this experience will have been a learning lesson for everyone involved,” said Caffie. “There’s a lot to be learned from this whole process.”
While there may be things to be learned from this, Phelps said he doesn’t want the SGA to dwell on the change and let it affect the remainder of their year.
“As adviser, I want people to take this experience and look forward,” said Phelps. “I’m looking forward to SGA moving on and looking forward to a fresh start.”
Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of student development and enrollment was unable to be reached for comment.