Zack Yost, the president of the Michigan Student Assembly, said early this morning that he plans to resign at tonight’s meeting.
Mohammad Dar, the assembly’s vice president, is expected to be sworn in to the presidency.
Yost has been under fire on campus since last week’s meeting, when MSA Rep. Kenneth Baker revealed a private Facebook.com group that Yost had created more than a year earlier, when he was the assembly’s student general counsel. The group, which was only visible to its handful of members, mocked MSA Rep. Tim Hull for the frequent amendments he proposed to the assembly’s Compiled Code.
What prompted scattered outrage on campus, though, was the group’s description: “I’ll give that kid a fucking disability he can write home about if he keeps sending these code amendments to everyone.” Hull has Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism.
“I’m resigning at 8 p.m. tomorrow night,” Yost said just after midnight before declining further comment.
Yost’s accomplishments as president include helping organize a rally in Lansing for increased higher education funding, developing an intern program to get more freshmen involved in student government and co-founding the Michigan Action Party. MAP helped Yost dominate in the spring MSA election, which he won with more than 75 percent of the vote. MAP also swept the vast majority of the assembly’s seats in last week’s student government election.
But his legacy – fairly or unfairly – will likely be defined by the Facebook group.
According to MSA’s website, this will be the first time a student body president has resigned since 1977. F. Scott Kellman resigned in October of that year, citing a desire to spend more time on his schoolwork.
Hull said last week that if Yost didn’t resign, he would.
Reached last night, Hull expressed his hope that the assembly would learn from the situation and pay more attention to the challenges students with disabilities face on campus.
“I still find that he’s a friend,” Hull said. “But I do think it’s best for MSA.”
But he said he doubts that Yost’s resignation will fix what many see as problems with the assembly’s culture.
“I’m not gonna say that Zack resigning would cause divisions to go away,” Hull said.
Several MSA officials said that they were disappointed when they heard of Yost’s announcement, citing his accomplishments and leadership.
“In my experience with Zack, I do know that he really truly does care about the assembly,” said Nate Fink, the assembly’s chief of staff. “He is making this decision because this is what he thinks is best for the assembly.”
Dar is required by MSA’s Compiled Code to nominate a vice president, who must be approved by a majority of the assembly. Dar, an LSA senior, could not be reached for comment early this morning.
It is not clear how many people were members of the Facebook group, but the only two revealed so far have been Yost and Baker. Among its members were at least two other MSA representatives, Baker said, but he refused to name them.
Baker – who has been criticized for making the group public without consulting Hull until 30 minutes before the meeting and for the possibility that he did so to inflate his own political power – resigned last week under pressure from LSA Student Government.
Arvind Sohoni, Yost’s successor as student general counsel, said last night that this one mistake isn’t emblematic of his character.
“People knew the situation wasn’t indicative of who he was,” Sohoni said of Yost, a College of Engineering senior, member of Alpha Epsilon Pi and the senior honor society Order of Angell.
Like several others involved with MSA, Fink spoke at length about the need for the assembly to move forward but to learn from the events of the last week.
“One thing this incident has done is it’s certainly gotten people passionate about this issue,” Fink said, mentioning a lack of scholarships available for students with disabilities. “Hopefully we can turn that passion into action.”