Editor’s note: This story includes information about sexual misconduct claims and substance abuse. If you have questions about the reporting behind the story, please contact the editor at [email protected]
Student Association President Howard Brookins stepped down from his post, according to a letter sent to administrators and SA leaders Sunday.
The letter comes after more than 50 current and former SA members and student leaders called for his exit amid sexual misconduct allegations and claims he fostered a “negligent and careless work environment.” Brookins said he is stepping down for his “health and so many other reasons.” He denied claims of sexual misconduct made against him on Twitter earlier this month.
Brookins said the best course of action for the SA moving forward is to focus on student affairs and not “petty stories.”
“I have put my all into the SA and tried my best to provide a voice to the student body during these unprecedented times,” Brookins wrote in the letter. “I hoped to provide comfort and joy to those who needed it the most. I hope the SA will continue to strive for these goals, but I think it is important to move on without me. For my health and so many other reasons, I tender my resignation from the SA effective immediately.”Brookins letter of resignation
Brookins wrote in the letter that he has struggled with alcohol abuse during his time at GW, and he recently found that his drinking “covered up” a mental illness that led him to be hospitalized this past week.
He added that he joined the SA to make a difference in student affairs alongside his peers, and government work “does not always translate into everyone seeing eye-to-eye.” Brookins said several of his relationships changed and some “have come to bitter ends.”
More than a dozen SA cabinet members left their roles over the past couple of months, citing mismanagement in the organization. The SA Senate also initiated impeachment proceedings against him last week, pointing to four SA bylaw and constitution breaches.
“There have been rumors, people perpetuating lies, and The GW Hatchet has run stories about me with unsubstantiated allegations, and I refuse to comment on speculation,” he wrote.
Brookins did not return a request for comment.
Former SA Executive Vice President Brandon Hill became the SA president as Brookins stepped down, per SA bylaws. He was sworn in Sunday evening and said he aims to help the body “recommit” to its values of justice, equity and transparency.
He said on Facebook Live during his swearing-in ceremony that as SA president he will issue executive orders in the coming days to appoint members to his senior staff and executive cabinet.
“I’d like to begin to usher in that new path for the Student Association,” Hill said in an interview Sunday. “And then from there, it’s a lot of reorganizing and readjusting the culture of the SA to succeed in these next three months in this role.”
He added that he is “wishing Brookins health,” as well as any members of the student body impacted by recent events.
Former SA Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CPS-G and senate pro-tempore, now serves as the acting executive vice president until Hill selects a permanent leader, which is allowed per SA bylaws.
Falcigno said he has “full confidence” in Hill’s ability to lead the SA. He said Hill is “very capable” of doing his job and beginning to rebuild the student body’s trust in the organization.
“This is really a great opportunity for us to refocus, get back on track, focus on the students and what they need and be able to really put this behind us and move forward,” Falcigno said in an interview Sunday.
This article appeared in the February 1, 2021 issue of the Hatchet.