Click HERE to read Harless’ resignation letter
At this time last year, Garin Flowers was running public relations for homecoming committee.
Now he’s the Student Body President.
Following a week of political tumult in SG punctuated by the resignation Friday of former president Barclay Harless, Flowers officially took office as head of the student body during a Senate meeting Tuesday night.
Flowers was thrust into the unofficial role of interim president Friday, when Harless resigned on the heels of media reports that administrators discovered alcohol in his office at a summer orientation event.
Ahead for Flowers, who took his first political position as vice president in the spring, lies the task of unifying a government tainted by internal bickering and the circumstances of the Harless resignation.
“When something like this happens, a lot of people raise that eye, and we have to go back and prove ourselves again,” said Senate president Nathan Davison. “We need to rebuild bonds, pick up on the good things that Barclay did and try to put his mistakes behind us.”
Flowers pledged to remold SG’s executive branch after chief justice Robert Jones III swore him in before senators and administrators in Student Affairs.
“We’re going to change a lot of positions to make it better … and do the things we vowed to do for the student body,” said Flowers. “We want to let everybody know that SG is not in shambles.”
Flowers met with his Cabinet on Wednesday to discuss how to reorganize the executive branch and foster open communication and trust between its members, he said.
Some members of the executive branch had clashed with Harless over concerns he was withholding information from administrators and students about his activities June 14, when members of his fraternity
brought alcohol to his office during a freshman orientation event.
The most vocal of the objectors within the executive branch – director of special projects Natasha Bui, athletic affairs coordinator Gregory Morgan and director of student life and development Megan Latchford – were told they were out of a job Friday by chief staffers under Harless.
But the firings did not stick. Flowers, who approved of the staffers’ decisions initially, later decided against carrying out the termination orders.
Latchford, who began a job with the USF Athletic Department Tuesday, recommended Morgan as her successor during Wednesday night’s meeting.
“It’s time to recommit to the mission of SG and support each other regardless of the branch you’re in,” Latchford said in an address before the Senate.
Whether that will happen remains to be seen, said Davison, adding that the next two weeks will tell if lawmakers and members of the executive branch can squash any lingering bitterness over the Harless incident.
“There are so many things we can do for the students that really should be more important than spending all semester resolving these issues,” said Davison. “If we focus all our efforts on rebuilding, we’ll just go around in circles.”
Harless’ decision to remove himself from office was the best way for SG to move past the investigation and its aftermath, said Dean of Students Kevin Banks, who attended Tuesday’s oath of office ceremony.
Harless submitted his official letter of resignation to SG heads Monday night
“Student government is about transparency, stewardship and leadership,” said Banks. “I’m glad to see that Barclay realized that and made a decision in the best interests of SG.”
“(SG) has experienced a blemish,” he said addressing the Senate on Tuesday. “But we’re putting cold cream on our face and moving forward.”
David Guidi can be reached at (813) 974-6299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.