SGA President Dwight Ma Fires Chief of Staff

Student Government Association (SGA) President Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C) terminated his Chief of Staff Ben Palmer (18Ox, 20C) Tuesday night.

Ma said he dismissed Palmer because he felt that Palmer was not supportive of his initiatives.

“We simply disagree on many initiatives I have and I also have received confirmed reports of you speaking on behalf of other divisions without the right to do so,” Ma wrote to Palmer in a Tuesday email.

Ma said he previously talked to Palmer about his concerns but that he ultimately believed that he needed a “strong chief of staff” to promote him and his agenda.

Palmer told the Wheel that Ma’s decision was unexpected.

“I didn’t see it coming. My initial reaction was pretty upset, frankly,” Palmer said. “I’ve been a really dedicated member of the team. I thought there was really good chemistry going on.”

Palmer, who previously served as Oxford SGA president, said he is unsure how he will move forward but he will continue with the work he has done in SGA. Ma said Palmer will continue to serve on the Electoral Reform Committee that was formed earlier this semester.

Palmer said Ma “has a history” of making “decisions arbitrarily,” though Ma told the Wheel that his decision “culminated in many weeks of thought.”

“I think this is one of those instances again where he is not listening to his [executive board] and I think he is probably quieting one of the more vocal critics in his administration,” Palmer said.

SGA Executive Vice President John Priddy (19C) said he learned of Palmer’s dismissal Wednesday morning. Priddy said he “was not informed, consulted, or made aware of this decision until after it happened, and neither was the rest of the Executive Board.”

Priddy added that he disagreed with Ma’s decision.

“It follows a series of rash decisions made by Dwight without consulting myself as Executive Vice President or the rest of the Executive Board,” Priddy wrote in a Wednesday email to the Wheel. “Ben was doing a fantastic job in his role managing the team, and I am extremely disappointed by this decision.”

The SGA Constitution states that “All non-elected members and officers serve at the pleasure of the President of the SGA.” Ma told the Wheel that he decided not inform the SGA executive board of his decision beforehand because he did not want to put stress on SGA. Ma said he plans to open applications for the position.

“I didn’t inform the Executive Board of my concerns because I didn’t want to start rumors or cause unnecessary tension within SGA if the situation could be resolved,” Ma said.