Student Government Association (SGA) President Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C) fired Vice President of Finance Paul Park (17Ox, 19B) on Jan. 11, citing complaints about Park’s behavior and disagreement over Park’s initiative to increase the Student Activity Fee (SAF).
Ma said Media Council and TableTalk expressed concerns with Park’s “unprofessional” behavior, such as “randomly” canceling meetings and notifying students of meetings on short notice. Media Council President Alexander Zhang (19C) said Media Council was alarmed by budget cuts and Park setting inflexible deadlines but that Park was “always prompt and was willing to meet.” TableTalk co-President Jasmine Zhu (21C) declined to comment and co-President Christopher McDougal (19C) did not respond to request for comment.
Park said no one informed him of performance issues before he was fired. Ma initially asked him to resign via Facebook Messenger but fired him after Park refused to resign.
Park’s departure comes as SGA sets the budget for the next fiscal year, before the next SGA legislature takes office in March or April. Ma appointed SGA Assistant Vice President of Finance Katherine Huang (18Ox, 20B) to serve as Park’s replacement. Ma said Huang’s experience as assistant vice president of finance and vice president of finance at Oxford SGA makes her the most qualified candidate for the position and that he plans for Huang to serve as vice president of finance for the remainder of his administration.
Park said he believes Ma fired him due to a “miscommunication” with TableTalk and Ma’s disagreement with how Park was attempting to raise the SAF. Although Park said Ma acted within his authority, Park disagrees with Ma’s decision and stands by his efforts to increase the SAF for the benefit of executive agencies and divisional councils.
“It’s not something I’m pushing on behalf of myself. I’m pushing it on behalf of the finance committee … the divisions and the EAs [executive agencies]. The reality is they’re running out of money,” Park said. “I’m not responsible to [Ma] — I’m responsible to the members of the finance committee … Greater than two-thirds of the finance committee understands that it is necessary to increase the SAF.”
Huang told Media Council clubs at a Jan. 18 meeting that she also supported a SAF increase of about $1 to $2.
Ma said he discussed his grievances regarding Park’s performance with SGA Executive Vice President John Priddy (19C) and SGA Adviser Lisa Loveall in September and December 2018, saying that although they disagreed with his decision to fire Park, both also had problems with Park’s performance.
However, Priddy wrote in a Jan. 15 email to the Wheel that Ma did not consult him before firing Park and that he opposed the decision.
“Paul [Park] was doing well in his role as vice president of finance,” Priddy wrote. “I told Dwight [Ma] it was a mistake to dismiss our vice president of finance when we are currently trying to organize our budgets … I expressed these concerns after Paul [Park] had already been dismissed without my knowledge, but Paul [Park] was dismissed regardless.”
Park said he is concerned about Ma’s presidency.
“Dwight ran on transparency,” Park said. “There’s been a lot of lack of transparency in how he has acted.”
Park was elected as the SGA BBA Council representative in Spring 2018, but he resigned from the position when Ma appointed him as the vice president of finance. The SGA Constitution states “all non-elected members and officers serve at the pleasure of the President of the SGA.”