Student Union’s vice president of public relations resigns from post unexpectedly

Applications open, replacement to be chosen in two weeks

| Senior News Editor

In a surprise resignation, junior Brian Benton, Student Union’s vice president of public relations, stepped down from his post earlier this week, citing personal reasons for his departure.

Benton was elected to SU’s Executive Board last spring as part of the Elevate! slate, alongside now-seniors Emma Tyler, Vivek Biswas and Nick Palermo and now-junior Laura Roettges. In his tenure as VP of public relations, Benton focused on redesigning the Student Union website and working to increase SU’s communications with the student body.

A replacement will be chosen in the next two weeks, according to the Student Union press release announcing Benton’s resignation, and Elevate! leaders expect a smooth transition process with the board’s new member.

SU Exec did not see the resignation coming, but President Emma Tyler said she understands Benton’s need to make the best decisions for himself.

“This was definitely not something I or anyone else on SU Exec expected. But we understand and want to support Brian [Benton] in his decision, but no, this is definitely not something we’ve been planning or thinking about for any period of time,” Tyler said.

Benton is the first SU Exec member to resign from his position since fall 2009, according to Student Life archives. Two Exec members resigned that year, one for personal reasons and one out of frustration with SU’s bureaucratic structure.

Benton said that a combination of factors that led him to resign.

“It was a few different reasons,” Benton said. “Preparing to study abroad next year and making sure I’m able to get all the classes I need to, and being able to commit to all the things I have to do. It’s just like the combination of those internal things as well as personal things made it best for me as well as Student Union as a whole to step down from my position at this time.”

Benton did admit that it was a sudden decision, however.

“It was something that had to be done now rather than in a few weeks, when elections are underway and there’s more going on with Student Union, so it’s just in the best interest for me and the rest of SU Exec for me to step down,” he said.

With regard to moving forward, Tyler noted that there is not any official statute regarding the selection of a new member of the Exec board, so the Elevate! administration will use previous instances of a board member resigning as a guide moving forward.

“Under the advisement of our Chief Justice Gabrielle Buchbinder, we’re going along with precedent that’s been done in the past, which has been to put an open application out and then get someone confirmed by Senate and Treasury,” Tyler said.

The school-wide SUp This Week email on Tuesday morning announced the open position and asked interested students to apply, marking Friday, Jan. 30 as the application deadline. The Exec board hopes to choose a replacement, who will then need to be confirmed by SU Senate and Treasury, within the next two weeks.

Tyler noted that Benton’s replacement will be trained and integrated as smoothly as possible into the board.

“We were all trained for our positions by the people that came before us. The PR position is nice because [it has] the most consistent week-to-week or day-to-day responsibilities, so that stuff is pretty structured and should be pretty easy to catch on to,” Tyler said. “I’m definitely going to sit down with the new person for as long as they need to catch them up on their roles, responsibilities, ongoing projects.”

Benton plans to continue his involvement in his other SU groups but will not be involved in the selection of his successor.

Editor’s note: Benton is also a photographer for Student Life.

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