Student Body President Williams removed from post Friday after vote

After much debate, the USM Student Senate voted on Friday to remove student body president TJ Williams from his post. Williams has been absent from USM since early September.
Alex Greenlee | The Free Press
After much debate, the USM Student Senate voted on Friday to remove student body president TJ Williams from his post. Williams has been absent from USM since early September.

Posted on October 15, 2012 in News
By Kirsten Sylvain

Former student body president Williams.
Alex Greenlee | The Free Press
Former student body president Williams.

 After nearly five weeks of unexplained absence from campus and student government events, Student Body President TJ Williams was removed from his post Friday.

Business as usual was interrupted when Senator Adam Higgins issued a concern related to the whereabouts of Williams at Friday’s student senate meeting. The issue had been raised at two prior meetings, but it was delayed because of lack of communication with Williams. He was out due to what he referred to as personal circumstances and promised to report on when he would be able to return to campus soon. However, by Friday, no senator could report on Williams’ circumstances and when or if he would be able to return. Student Senate Chair Chris Camire expressed his concern and frustration at the meeting.

“Communication has been minimal,” he said. “I have been frantically trying to get a hold of TJ for the past week and a half with no response at all.”

Williams, who succeeded Camire as student body president back in April, abruptly left campus after the first week of school. Without the president, the senate had been forced to function without him. Camire, who told The Free Press in April that he and Williams were “practically attached at the hip” explained that he had taken on many of the responsibilities that fall under the president’s domain, but by the second and third week of Williams’ absence, members of the SGA were beginning to notice his disappearance and unavailability.

The issue presented the senate with a difficult choice. After Senator Higgins opened up the issue, the senate moved to break into an executive session, in which all gallery members (including The Free Press) were expelled to the hallway while a discussion of how to proceed with the absentee president pursued inside. After nearly an hour of discussion with senators gesticulating fiercely and pointing adamantly at the constitution, they voted, and Williams was removed from his post. The proceedings of an executive session are confidential, but Camire did release information in a statement to The Free Press Friday night.

“We do however stress that these deliberations were strictly on the basis of his performance and of the duties of his office in accordance to the Constitution of the Student Government Association,” Camire wrote.

The details of Williams’ absence are still unknown. The university was unable to comment and requests for records have been declined, as the information is currently considered confidential. Williams has not responded to questions made by phone and email on this subject by The Free Press.

The student senate will appoint a new Student Body President at the next senate meeting Oct. 19. All students are welcome to apply. Any interested applicants must meet the eligibility requirements of the position stated in the Student Government Association constitution. Camire is the senate contact for interested applicants.