International students disappointed with lack of stability

Suffolk turmoil receives attention overseas


By Keyhole

Alexa Gagosz

In recent events that have unfolded into a mess within Suffolk’s administration, the “he said/she said” soap opera has formed a sense of community on campus through students and faculty with rallies and the vast social media presence with the Twitter hashtag #SUStandsWithMcKenna.

The trend has founded several accounts, including “Greedy Suffolk Board” under the username @BoardGreedy and the website hosted by alumni,

One of @BoardGreedy’s latest tweets read: “A significant amount of BoT members shouldn’t just resign, they should be investigated for misappropriating a non-profit’s funds.”

At the end of the tweet, the user tagged the official Twitter account of Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey.

The hashtag received more than 500 posts with the signature hashtag in the past seven days, 775,667 impressions across Twitter, the trend has surfaced five countries thus far, including the United States, Great Britain, Spain, Canada, and Brazil according the real-time tracker of Twitter, Keyhole.

Senior government major and board member  of the International Student Association, Saewon Park, came to Suffolk from South Korea. When she first heard of the situation between President Margaret McKenna and the Board of Trustees in her government class by Professor John Berg, she followed up by reading the in-depth editorial he published in the Commonwealth Magazine.

The article received a total of 1,053 total social media shares.

Data collected by Keyhole on the number of posts for each hashtag in the past 14 days.
Data collected by Keyhole on the number of posts for each hashtag in the past 14 days.

Instantly, Park took to defending the side of her president of just seven months.

“From the information I could gather, it seems to me that there is a serious lack of transparency and accountability in the Board of Trustees,” said Park.

Park participated in both last Tuesday’s and last Friday’s rallies with the self-proclaimed activism group #WeAreSuffolk.

As an international student, she stands by the side of McKenna and she claims that the President has a student-oriented point of view.

“For international students, she visited the several tables representing different countries Suffolk students came from on International Night,” said Park, in reference to the multicultural event.

Park noted that McKenna, even in her seven months in the top office, has already made decisions that have positively impacted the students.

“I was really glad when she leased Donahue and Archer until the next academic year and we avoided potentially very chaotic and cramped classroom schedules,” said Park.

However, the decision on Friday did not leave Park at ease with the university even after the students and faculty came together in the past few weeks.

“Hearing that [McKenna] would leave was not what I had hoped for,” said Park. “I had hoped that Suffolk would finally have a long-term president as a result of the student body, faculty and alumni efforts.”

Yet, she was also hoping that Suffolk’s board of Trustees  Chairman Andrew Meyer was not the only member to leave the school.

Yazeed Abu-Ghazaleh, the public relations manager of the Students for Justice in Palestine branch at Suffolk, spoke on behalf of the organization.

“Unstable leadership is by no means an attribute of an effective organization, so for that reason we are extremely relieved that President McKenna is maintaining her position [for now],” said Abu-Ghazaleh.

Many other students expressed their concern with the university’s change in leadership in the past.

Senior entrepreneurship and finance major as well as the President of the International Student Association, An Wang told the Journal in an interview that her family has read about the former presidents online.

“It is my fourth year at Suffolk, and it is the fourth president on campus,” said Wang after she explained that her parents are reading comments and articles in Mandarin back in China.

“It is so upsetting that the only thing they hear is so negative and I end up feeling so ashamed,” said Wang.

Wang said she has observed several fellow international students have met her and generally like her, and continue to show their support for her across social media.

Park said the problem may affect applications to Suffolk’s undergraduate program as well.

“It may deter others,” said Park. “In Massachusetts, I think people would view Suffolk as a mess.”

However, it’s not just the U.S. that has to be concerned with application numbers going down.

“If you look up Suffolk’s news in China, the first few searches are negative,” Wang said as she feared the international student population could potentially drop in the future.

“At the end of the day, it is the students that are hurt from such scandals,” said Wang.

With the decision for both Meyer to leave the school in May and McKenna leae when therre is a new president, students look toward the future with both disappointment and hope.

“We hope that the Board of Trustees will carry the interests of all stakeholders when making their decisions in the future, and humbly request that they remain objective in trying junctures such as this,” said Abu-Ghazaleh on behalf of  SJP.

With a sense of community that the university has formed for the first time, according to some, Park says the school has even changed in recent weeks.

“I’m very proud of the community that arose from this crisis,” said Park. “For the past three years I have been at Suffolk, I was always told, and have said so myself, that Suffolk lacked a community because of its downtown location and high number of commuters. What I have seen and have been part of in the last week changed all that- for the better.”

With students proud of what they have done to show their care for the school, it doesn’t look like the sense of involvement is going anywhere. Park explained in an interview with The Journal that she looks forward to seeing the new batch of potential presidents, as well as the future of the Board.

“I would be looking for someone with commitment toward Suffolk University,” said Park. “Someone who tries to connect with the student body, and who isn’t afraid to take on the board or anyone else to correct any wrongs.”