Naba Rahman (SFS ’19), the acting president of the Georgetown University Student Association, and Chief of Staff Aaron Bennett (COL ’19) will resign Friday, effective at 11:59 p.m., according to a draft of a news release provided to The Hoya on Thursday night.
Rahman and Bennett’s resignation comes after the GUSA senate demanded Rahman and 10 senior GUSA executive staff resign for failing to disclose to the body and to other executive members allegations of misconduct raised against former GUSA president, Sahil Nair (SFS ’19).
The Hoya approached Rahman and Bennett for comments on their resignations. Nair did not respond to requests for comment until May 2019.
No complaints had been filed against Nair through the Title IX office or the Office of Student Conduct, he wrote in a May 28 email to The Hoya. A university spokesperson confirmed that, as of May 2019, Nair was not the subject of any complaints through either office nor had he been found responsible for any violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
Tuesday morning, Rahman and 10 GUSA senior staffers, including Bennett (COL ’19) announced resignations, effective Friday, due to an inability to serve in their roles, given the “present environment within the organization,” according to resignation statements provided to The Hoya.
About two hours after the resignations, The Hoya reported the existence of a letter circulating among senior leadership of student organizations that demanded Nair’s resignation and referred to allegations of sexual misconduct. Rahman and senior staffers announced they would rescind their resignations after Nair resigned 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The GUSA senate then called an emergency meeting for 10 p.m. Tuesday to evaluate the transition of power and the news of the allegations. But senators at the meeting said Bennett briefed the senate in a private internal forum before the emergency session on a timeline of Rahman and Bennett’s knowledge of the allegations made against Nair.
At least six senators said Rahman, Bennett and other senior members of the GUSA executive’s staff allegedly knew during the GUSA presidential campaign in February about misconduct accusations against Nair but did not disclose them, as discussed during the senate meeting.
In an interview with The Hoya on Wednesday, Rahman said she stands by her course of action.
“If this were about a job for me, I wouldn’t have resigned on Tuesday. This was about doing what was right,” Rahman said. “Values are very important to me, whether they be my own religious values, how I feel about being a woman, a woman of color, and so, that drives me every day, especially in times like this. I did what I thought was right.”
Bennett said in an email to The Hoya that he and Rahman both acted to preserve the interests of the student body.
Rahman said she will no longer be part of GUSA this year and hopes that the organization continues to advocate for students’ needs.
“The important thing to recognize about GUSA is that it is way more than the president and vice president, we are ultimately leaders for an army of students who want to see change,” Rahman said. “I don’t want to see GUSA for the next year miss out on a year of policy, advocacy and student empowerment that it could’ve had. So I implore individuals to do what they can to still make GUSA a place for change.”
During the senate meeting Tuesday night, senators said that in the earlier forum, Bennett said Nair denied the first allegations of misconduct raised during the election campaign and that he and Rahman believed him.
Bennett and Rahman confirmed this account in an interview with The Hoya.
When the allegations resurfaced at the end of the summer, Rahman delivered a welcome address to new students during the New Student Orientation welcome session instead of Nair, but Rahman and Bennett again did not disclose the allegations to the GUSA senate. Traditionally, the GUSA president delivers a welcome address to new students.
At the emergency meeting Tuesday, senators unanimously agreed that Rahman and Bennett should no longer hold positions representing the student body, after failing to disclose allegations to GUSA staff. The senators said the failure to inform the community about the allegations made Rahman and Bennett unfit to advocate for student issues like mental health and sexual assault prevention.
This article was updated June 23 to indicate the absence of Title IX or Office of Student Conduct complaints against Nair and to include comment from Nair.
Resources: On-campus resources include Health Education Services (202-687-8949) and Counseling and Psychiatric Services (202-687-7080); additional off-campus resources include the D.C. Rape Crisis Center (202-333-7273) and the D.C. Forensic Nurse Examiner Washington Hospital Center (844-443-5732). If you or anyone you know would like to receive a sexual assault forensic examination or other medical care — including emergency contraception — call the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C. at 202-742-1727. Emergency contraception is available at the CVS located at 1403 Wisconsin Ave NW. To report sexual misconduct, you can contact Georgetown’s interim Title IX coordinator at 202-687-9183 or file an online report here.