Zack Yost resigned the presidency of the Michigan Student Assembly at the body’s meeting last night. Mohammad Dar was sworn in to the post.
Yost’s resignation comes a week after MSA Rep. Kenneth Baker made public a private Facebook.com group that mocked MSA Rep. Tim Hull and referenced his Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, with the words “I’ll give that kid a fucking disability he can write home about if he keeps sending these code amendments to everyone.” Baker, also a member of the group, resigned last week under pressure from LSA Student Government.
At least 90 observers came to watch the first MSA president resign since F. Scott Kellman in 1977. The meeting was held in the Hussey Room of the Michigan League to accommodate the crowd, which at most meetings is only a handful of people.
Yost was the last to arrive to the 8 p.m. meeting, and when he did, the noisy room went silent. He called the meeting to order, pounding the gavel harder than usual.
About five minutes into the meeting, Yost asked the assembly if he could deliver a statement. He stood up and walked over to a podium facing the assembly and audience.
He then delivered a speech announcing his resignation from the MSA presidency.
“I want to make it very clear that in no way am I being forced out of the presidency of MSA,” Yost said.
He said his decision is best for MSA and the University.
“I’m holding myself personally responsible for our current situation,” he said. “But the issue here is much larger than my transgression.”
During and after the speech, several members of the assembly were sobbing.
After apologizing to Hull and laying out his plans to participate in MSA’s Students with Disabilities Committee – a revival of which is in the works – Yost addressed the assembly members.
“I wouldn’t trade my MSA experience for anything,” Yost said.
According to the MSA Compiled Code, the vice president – in this case, Dar – takes over as president of the assembly when the president resigns. At the end of his speech, Yost expressed his confidence in Dar, who would soon take his place.
“I’ve never met anyone who serves the campus with more diligence and with greater integrity than you, Mohammad,” Yost said.
Stepping down from the podium, Yost embraced Dar. During the hug, Yost had a few words of encouragement for Dar.
“You go get ’em, you understand?” he said into Dar’s ear.
Immediately after delivering his resignation speech, Yost left. A recess was called to allow some representatives to exchange a few last words with Yost in the hallway. Dar was sworn in to the presidency as Yost walked out of the door.
“I want to be your worker, your guide, your well-wisher and more,” Dar said.
Dar has been one of the most active assembly members during his tenure. He coordinated a rally in Lansing with most of the state’s public universities to protest a drop in higher education funding. He’s also one of the primary assembly members working with landlords and the Ann Arbor City Council on the lease-signing ordinance.
Later in the meeting, several MSA representatives expressed frustration that the situation had escalated to the point where Yost resigned.
“I’m really disappointed, well, surprised that it had to come to this,” said Nate Fink, MSA chief of staff.
Not every member was as positive about Yost. MSA Rep. Liana Mulholland said she was disappointed in the assembly for the way it spoke about Yost.
“What I don’t understand is why there was all this tearful sorrow – kind of like a love-Zack fest. No one talked about Tim at all,” she said after the meeting. “Everyone was acting like Zack was the victim, and that what happened was sort of like a natural disaster and not something he did himself.”
Several MSA members have said that Yost was a tremendous motivator for the assembly and acted as a connector, bringing together administrators, student groups and MSA representatives.
Yost helped create an MSA internship program to familiarize freshmen with the assembly, plan the rally in Lansing and work with faculty and bookstore owners to reduce textbook prices. He is a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi and the senior honor society Order of Angell.
Several assembly members said during the meeting that they hope MSA could get over the scandal and move forward. In an interview after the meeting, Hull echoed this sentiment and expressed relief that the situation was finally coming to a close.
“I would say that I’m glad we will be able to move on,” he said.