Dismissed cabinet member speaks out against MSA president-elect

“Now, looking back at an opportunity that I was given to serve the students of this flagship university, I can say that I was wrong,” de Leon wrote in his Dec. 11 Facebook post.

Missouri Students Association President-elect Haden Gomez dismissed Department of Student Communications director Riley de Leon and assistant director Natalie Edelstein, one of Gomez’s former campaign managers, Dec. 10.

The controversial move comes a week after Gomez announced his executive cabinet. The applications for the positions have been reopened.

De Leon posted a Facebook status Dec. 11 after his dismissal alleging Gomez “used” him and Edelstein and apologizing for having “failed” students by supporting Gomez.

“In the past several months I have spent hours aimlessly supporting, and coercing my friends to support, a president-elect who allows his personal agenda to cloud his administrative ‘decisions,'’’ de Leon wrote in his status. “Now, looking back at an opportunity that I was given to serve the students of this flagship university, I can say that I was wrong.”

De Leon said Gomez used the members of cabinet, including vice president-elect Chris Hanner, for their connections and experience.

The post prompted numerous responses, which defended and criticized both de Leon and Gomez.

“I have full trust that Haden and Chris will do a great job in their position,” Associated Students of the University of Missouri President Kate Hargis said in a comment on de Leon’s status. “As a student leader who doesn’t care about a golden name tag, this status proved to me that Haden made the correct decision.”

Gomez said in a statement to The Maneater that though some may disagree with his decision, he makes his decision with the consultation of other students and he knows that he cannot make everyone happy.

“I do promise though that every decision I make is in the best interest of Mizzou, and more specifically, the student body,” he said in his statement. “It is my duty and the duty of those I appoint to ALWAYS and ONLY care for students and the needs they have on this campus. I will not surround myself with anything less than that. I will not let Mizzou have anything less than that.”

Former presidential candidate Jordan McFarland, however, praised de Leon for speaking out. “What has been is not justification for what is and what can be,” McFarland said. “Mizzou deserves the best.”

McFarland also expressed his disappointment in Gomez’s win in a Facebook post on Nov. 19, stating that “our president elect cheated to win, exploited minorities to win and acted in vigorous vengeance to win.”

Soon after, former MSA presidential Syed Ejaz and running mate Heather Parrie echoed McFarland’s thoughts in their own posts.

“When I have a sexual assault survivor sobbing in the student center because she's an executive in an MSA auxiliary who has to work closely with a new administration that is so triggering for her that she doesn't know if she can do it, we know what kind of leadership we'll have for the next year,” Parrie wrote in a Nov. 20 Facebook post.

De Leon also posted a number of email responses from students on Twitter.

Several of the posts came from people who stated they voted for Gomez or knew him outside of MSA and were now concerned after reading de Leon’s status. One came from someone stating that they were good friends but Gomez has been “very rude since he won the election.” Another was from a student stating he was Gomez’s former resident when Gomez worked as an RA last year.

The applications for DSC director have reopened until Thursday, Dec. 17, according to MSA’s Twitter.

The Gomez/Hanner administration is also still searching for someone to fill the chief inclusivity officer position, which remains vacant.

De Leon and Edelstein declined to comment.

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