College of Charleston student body president survives impeachment vote

Ross Kressel

Wade Spees

College of Charleston student body president Ross Kressel has a new attitude about Twitter after nearly being impeached for sending offensive messages from his personal account.

The college's Student Government Association on Tuesday voted 15-14 in favor of impeaching Kressel, well short of the two-thirds majority needed for impeachment, after more than two hours of discussion in the Stern Center Ballroom.

The vote effectively ends the turmoil in which the association had been embroiled over the past week.

Before the impeachment vote, the group took a "no-confidence" vote on Kressel's leadership, which passed 25-4.

At issue were tweets that Kressel sent, which contained comments that were offensive to women, blacks, gays and his colleagues.

Kressel, 21, of Marietta, Ga., after the meeting gave the following advice to other Twitter-users: "If it would upset your mom, don't post it."

"I've never been more embarrassed in my life," he said of the recent wide scrutiny of his posts. He has apologized and wants to get back to work, he said.

Student senators and more than 100 students gathered at the public meeting to listen and weigh in on Kressel's impeachment.

Some were outraged by the comments Kressel had posted, which included:

Sophomore Katie Benson said she was offended by the tweets, which she called misogynistic. They were "not OK, not OK at all," she said.

Senior Luca Gauttoni-Celli spoke in favor of sanctions for Kressel. "This is not a lynching. This is not scapegoating. These are serious issues," he said.

Kressel should have stepped down, Gauttoni-Celli said. He is paid a salary of nearly $10,000. "I want my money back."

The college's student body president earns $13.50 per hour for performing his or her duties, and can earn up to the value of a year of in-state tuition. This year's in-state tuition rate is $9,616.

Gauttoni-Celli also expressed concern about how the negative tweets would affect the individuals at whom they were aimed. "This was a failure of leadership," he said.

Many of Kressel's supporters showed up at the meeting as well. Most of them said that although they didn't like the messages or think Kressel should have sent them, they didn't think they warranted impeachment. And many spoke favorably about Kressel's previous work and his character.

Junior Pattie Webster said Kressel has done much good work on anti-discrimination efforts. "I'm happy to call Ross my friend," she said. "I have seen him work so hard for equality."

Adrian Barry, a senior, said he thinks some people brought public scrutiny to Kressel's tweets in an effort to force his ouster for their own personal gain.

The move to remove Kressel from office was a "premeditated attack of political assassination," Barry said.

Kressel said he's not sure how the negative public attention will affect him in the future. He plans now to get back to Student Government Association work and complete his senior year.

He also is applying for a position with Teach for America after he graduates. The group recruits recent, bright college graduates and places them in needy urban and rural public schools for two years.