Cal State Northridge’s student body president has resigned after admitting that she has not been a student at the school since taking office last year, university officials said Monday.
Lynn Westlund, 23, told the university Saturday that she enrolled for the fall semester but was dropped from the school after she failed to cover a bounced check, officials said. The student body president, paid $550 a month, must be enrolled in a minimum of seven course units to hold office, officials said.
“She got into financial difficulty and was unable to pay her bills,” said Edmund T. Peckham, the university’s vice president for student affairs.
Westlund said in a telephone interview that she could have borrowed the money to cover the check, “but I was too proud. I wanted to work this out on my own.” She said she had planned to enroll for the spring semester, but “I procrastinated.”
“I don’t think I was being dishonest,” Westlund said. ‘I made a stupid mistake. . . . I don’t believe that I have anything to apologize for.”
Peckham said two officials knew in October that Westlund was not enrolled at the school, which serves about 30,000 students. One of the officials, A. Jerome Green, campus activities director, said he made the discovery during a routine check of the eligibility of student officers for the fall term.
“I suggested to her that there might be a problem and that she should look into it,” Green said. “She said, ‘OK.’ ”
Green said he never pursued the matter because “I believed that she was in school.” University officials began to investigate Westlund’s eligibility on Friday after an inquiry from The Times, Peckham said.
Westlund denied that Green or any administrator confronted her about whether she was enrolled.
Peckham said he met with Westlund for several hours on Saturday. She agreed to resign and then removed her personal belongings from the Associated Students office that she had occupied since June, he said.
Westlund told Peckham that she ran into financial difficulties after quitting her regular job last fall to devote more time to her duties as president, he said. Peckham--who has known Westlund since she was a freshman and described her as “very bright, perceptive, extremely involved"--said she talked to him in past months about “classes she was taking and exams she was taking.”
Student body Vice President Mark Miner, who ran on a slate with Westlund last year, said he was shocked by the disclosure. He was appointed student body president on Saturday.
“I didn’t know she wasn’t in school, I don’t think anybody knew,” said Miner, who met Westlund four years ago at a party sponsored by her sorority, Delta Delta Delta. “We never really talked about classes, we’re so busy here all day, every day.”
Miner and others say Westlund put in long hours five days a week. She was the chief administrator over the Associated Students’ $1.4-million annual budget and served on several campus committees with jurisdiction over budgets and facilities.
“She was, in many ways, your ideal woman student,” Peckham said. “That is why what happened is such an enormous tragedy.”
Last month, Westlund and Miner asked for and received $100-a-month raises retroactive to July 1, 1988, from the Student Senate, Miner said. The $800 retroactive checks were issued two weeks ago, he said.
The 28-member Student Senate will have to decide whether Westlund must return the salary she has received since taking office, Miner said. Westland said she deserves to keep the money.
Westlund, who said she is six units short of a bachelor’s degree in health science, has attended CSUN for six years. She was elected to the Student Senate in 1985 and 1987, serving two terms, before beating two other presidential candidates in the 1988 campus election.
Westlund has divided her off-campus time between a rental home she shared with roommates in Northridge and her parents’ home in Frazier Park.