Student body president charged with DUI

ASMSU President Gwynn Simeniuk publicly apologized to students in a statement yesterday for an August drunk driving incident. Simeniuk, 21, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and parking on a sidewalk on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 3:28 a.m. Officer Ben King of the Bozeman police found her in her stopped vehicle on the sidewalk and grass of South Wallace Avenue and East Curtiss Street, according to arrest records. Simeniuk is facing 24 hours to 6 months in jail and between a $300 and $1000 fine if convicted.

Simeniuk noted her duty to serve students, as well as her violation of this duty in her statement. She wrote, “I made a commitment last spring to serve you by acting at all times in the best interests of the student body … my recent actions have not upheld this commitment.”

Dean of Students Matt Caires commended Simeniuk on her transparency and willingness to work with, listen to and engage concerned students. “I appreciate the fact that she’s taking this time to listen to her constituents – It’s rare in this world do you find elected officials who listen.”

ASMSU Director Marianne Brough also backed up Simeniuk’s handling of the incident, saying she “believes [Simeniuk] can be a good leader.” Brough plans to help facilitate the dialogue between ASMSU senators, Simeniuk, and students. She said, “We will be taking this time to hear from students and stakeholders and reflect upon the appropriate actions. It is clear to me that President Simeniuk is very remorseful and is dedicated to earning back the students’ trust. I believe she can be a good leader.”

The ASMSU president hopes to reconcile with her constituents through listening to their concerns about her role. She said, “My intent is to be able to start an open dialogue … [students] need an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns.”

When asked if the legal proceedings of the DUI charge will interfere with her duties to the student body, Simeniuk had no doubts that she will continue to serve MSU: “I know the legal process is something that takes time, but last spring I made the commitment to make [the students] my first priority, and I intend to make it still my first priority.”

  • Addison

    She needs to step down NOW. The University needs to demonstrate that this kind of behavior is unacceptable for a student in a leadership role. Otherwise, having her apologize for the incident amounts to a slap on the wrist. Also, I bet if the incident involved a male student and the University handled it this way, you can bet that there would have been cries of “white male privilege” coupled with demands that the offending male student be removed from the position.

    • John

      I can absolutely understand where you are coming from in thinking that she needs to step down, but let’s not make this about white privilege or sexism. If this had involved a white male student, cries of male privilege would have been invalid, as Gwen is clearly not male and is receiving these privileges. I cannot comment on her race, but I can say that I have been continually and pleasantly surprised by MSU’s openness to different cultures, beliefs, and racial backgrounds. Let’s try to make this conversation about Gwen’s capability to still lead and represent the students (or lack thereof, if that is what you believe), and what the appropriate response from her would be.

      • Addison

        I guarantee you: if this had been a guy, he would already be gone and in mandatory rehab. Look at how they handle the football players.

  • Mike

    To simply “open a dialogue” and get backed by the Dean of Students, whose job it is to discipline students for actions like this, is disgusting for Montana State to simply be okay with. I don’t want to be from a school where we let our leaders make poor decisions and spin them so they don’t have to leave office. I want to continue to be from a school where we’ve worked tirelessly to build up each and every student to become great people and the top minds with leaders who are their role models. Gwynn’s decision to drive drunk was her breaking her commitment to the school. She forfeited her role as being a leader, someone for students to look up to and be inspired by her actions, and by not stepping down, she is exhibiting her selfishness. A student president should accept the consequences that come with poor decisions and always do what’s best for the student body and our university. Gwynn, what if you had hit another student that night?

    • Cosmo

      Gwynn had pulled over. Even the article says the cop approached her car stopped. As wrong as driving drunk is, she realized her mistake and parked.

      • Mike

        Parking still implies driving dude.

        • Cosmo

          She can’t very well hit anyone while parked Mr. Holier Than Thou

          • Mike

            She had to drive to be able to park somewhere. The article also says she was parked on the sidewalk and grass. I do believe that’s where people walk. She still needs to do what’s right and step down.

          • Cosmo

            Because absolutely no one in leadership is allowed to make mistakes? She represents the students and she made a mistake that is common amongst students. She is still more than capable to lead the student body and the fact that she was proactive about this situation speaks to her credibility.

          • Addison

            Not “in leadership” – but THE top student leadership position at MSU. If she has a problem with alcohol (let’s not forget this is news because she got caught and cited – who knows how many other times she’s been in this condition), it needs to be dealt with and she needs to cede her position to someone who won’t run the risk of an incident like this.

          • Addison

            If it’s common among students, well please include sexual assault. Let’s let them all off the hook.

          • Bobcat

            Precisely why she should consider stepping down. Because people like you think DRUNK DRIVING is a “mistake that is common among students”. Her behavior is unacceptable and we should never perpetuate this type of behavior.

          • Bobcat

            Proactive? The DUI happened on the 16th of August. It’s September. She released the statement yesterday. If by proactive you mean “Oh shit! The Exponent just called for an interview and I need to get ahead of this”, then yes. She is being proactive.

          • Bobcat

            Sorry, Cosmo. You lose.

      • Addison

        Even if your car is parked in your own driveway – but you have keys in hand (and not in the ignition) – you get busted for a DUI.

      • Addison

        She committed a criminal act. She needs to go.

      • Bobcat

        List of places not to be when you are drunk: 1. In your car. 2. In your car on a sidewalk.

  • jim

    Thank goodness GOD forgives us for our sins and doesn’t hold it against us or hang it over our heads for ever. Truth be told; WE ARE DIRTY ROTTEN LIEING SCOUNDRELS WHO DESERVE TO ROT IN HELL, BUT THROUGH GODS GRACE WE ARE SAVED. So as Jesus said; ” Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.”

  • Bobcat

    A Dean of Students that compliments the perpetrator of a DUI for being a good politician rather than saying that drunk driving is unequivocally wrong?! There is a much greater lesson to be learned here. I’m disgusted, Dean Caires.

  • djr4nger

    Have some maturity and integrity, step down and make better decisions in the future. No one will remember this in two years anyway.

  • Mtmom

    I am a parent of 2 children attending MSU. This is an institution that is “so concerned” with the alcohol culture in college settings that every student is required to take an extensive online training about alcohol before they can attend classes. A training that many consider somewhat a joke and waste of time. This scenario proves these students right. This so- called student leader should have resigned immediately on her own accord, before the administration replaced her. Only then should she be mandated to have open dialogue about her “mistake”

  • Jeff Jones

    People in leadership positions such as hers should not be rewarded for DUI. She should’ve stepped down immediately on her own accord, but the lack of leadership by the President and Dean of Students is even more concerning. Grow a spine MSU.

  • Rick Fisher

    I am sorry but I do not feel this young lady should be forgiven so easily for the very serious crime of DUI. This country has made a habit of sentencing people to long prison sentences for crimes like drug possession yet we still look at DUI as not a big deal. Well DUI is a very big deal and is responsible for over 18,000 deaths in the United States every year or approximately 40% of all traffic fatalities nationwide. Really this girl is no better than James Eagan Holmes of Aurora Colorado who murdered 12 people in cold blood and maimed dozens more. What she did is the moral equivalent of firing a gun blindly into a room full of people. Much of Holmes defense rested on his mental illness and whether he knew right from wrong. Well I am certain this gal knew right from wrong and she chose wrong. She showed a complete and utter lack of regard for the lives other people. A simple apology letter isn’t going to make up for the fact that she put untold numbers of human lives in danger by her actions. Thats not what a leader does! The act of DUI is sociopathic in nature. People who engage in Drinking and Driving are indeed sociopaths in that they show a complete lack of regard for the well being of other people. In other words a lack of empathy and morality! This gal needs to immediately resign her position and then when she goes to court plead guilty on the spot rather than fight the charge. This country in it’s ultimate wisdom has seen fit to sentence people to life in prison for the simple possession of a couple grams of pot yet we still sentence criminal DUI defendants to no more than a little probation and a fine yet DUI claims 18,000 lives a year and pot has claimed zero lives a year. Do you think that might be a problem and probably a symptom of this nations love affair with booze!

  • Pingback: ASMSU President Disappoints; Should Step Down | The MSU Exponent()

  • alumnus

    step down