Kathryn Cua takes place of dismissed cabinet members

Gomez still has not given a reason for the dismissal of de Leon, Edelstein.

Missouri Students Association President-elect Haden Gomez has announced Kathryn Cua as the new Director of Student Communications on Jan. 6.

Gomez dismissed previous DSC Director Riley de Leon and Assistant DSC Director Natalie Edelstein Dec. 10, six days after announcing their hiring Dec. 4. Cua, a junior journalism major who has written for the Chicago Tribune, was hired because of her communication skills and perspective on the university, Gomez said.

Gomez would not give any explanation for Edelstein and de Leon’s dismissal. He said he stood by the statement he made after he dismissed the two cabinet members.

In the statement, Gomez said he made the decision in the best interest of MU, but he did not offer a specific reason for their dismissal.

“I will not speak poorly of or slander another student on this campus,” he said. “That is not who I am and not what true leadership does.”

De Leon called attention to the situation Dec. 11 when he made a Facebook post that began “Mizzou: I have failed you,” and went on to express his regret for supporting Gomez during his campaign. Kate Hargis, Associated Students of the University of Missouri president, said in a comment that the post proved to her Gomez made the right decision.

De Leon said he did not know Cua personally, but he was sure she brought “amazing qualities” to the role.

“While I am disappointed in the process by which Haden dismissed Natalie and I, as well as his lack of transparency with students, now is the time to move forward focused on best serving the needs of the Mizzou community,” he said in an email.

De Leon said he would be focusing instead on his newsletter, The COMO Know, this semester. Edelstein declined to comment.

“Yes, (the dismissal process) happened on a very fast timeline, and we had to make sure that we were doing things in the best of student interest,” Gomez said in an interview after Cua’s announcement. “I believe that is what we are doing, and that is what we will continue to do in everything we do.”

Gomez said the dismissal of two cabinet members so soon after their hiring did not change the type of candidates he sought after, but that he “definitely wanted to take as much time as needed,” so that he did not rush the search.

“These positions are paid for by student fees,” he said. “So, I have an obligation as an elected official to see that the best people are in these positions.”

Cua’s selection was announced at the same time as the new Chief Inclusivity Officer, Lydia Ghuman. The Chief Inclusivity Officer position was founded in 2014 as part of then-President Mason Schara’s cabinet, but was not a position in Payton Head’s cabinet.

Confirmation of all executive cabinet positions will occur during the first three Operations Committee meetings of the new semester.

Cua declined to comment on the dismissal of de Leon and Edelstein and said in an email that her goals for the semester were to increase MSA’s presence and interaction.

“I feel like it’s very easy to get lost in student government, so I want to ensure transparency about what we’re doing,” she said. “I especially want to have a large social media presence to be constantly interacting with students so that they are properly informed about what we’re working on, how student fees are being spent and how they can get involved.”

Edited by Waverly Colville | wcolville@themaneater.com

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