Student government vice president resigns over statement at K Week event

Michael Hawse and Maya Elias pose for a portrait at the Gatton Student Center on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Photo by Corrie McCroskey | Staff

Sarah Michels

After comments made at a first-generation student event, University of Kentucky Student Government Association Vice President Maya Elias has been removed from her office, effective immediately. SGA President Michael Hawse announced the resignation in an Instagram story statement Friday night.

Elias made the offending statement while speaking at a first-generation student K Week event Tuesday. Hawse was not present, but he told the Kernel that Elias’ words were unacceptable and “caused a negative impact towards a specific population in the UK community.”

Elias made the choice to remove herself from office, and Hawse supported the decision. Elias did not respond to requests for comment on the specifics of her statement. 

While there isn’t currently a specific SGA code Elias’ statement violated, Hawse said he will work to add an applicable ethical rule as soon as possible through an executive order or Senate bill.   

The Hawse-Elias campaign ran on four pillars, one of which was accountability. Their reaction to this incident shows that their campaign promises are more than talking points, Hawse said. 

“It is imperative that students are able to trust their student leaders to represent them when they are not in the room,” he said. 

Michaela Taylor, SGA’s current director of graduate and professional students, will replace Elias pending an SGA Senate confirmation process this week. Traditionally, SGA leadership has been comprised of undergraduate students, but Hawse said he believes having a graduate student as the vice president will be a great opportunity. 

“Michaela has been a constant asset for SGA and the student voice,” he said. “She has done everything from running elections to advocating for our graduate and professional students. She is super passionate about uplifting the voices of students. Throughout her years in SGA, she has spearheaded multiple initiatives and will come into the role of VP hitting the ground running.”