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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Senators resign due to internal conflicts, internships, alleged discrimination

SGA+senators+meet+in+Sargent+Hall.
James Bartlett
SGA senators meet in Sargent Hall.

Suffolk University’s Student Government Association has had a string of senators resign since the beginning of the spring semester.

Logan Casey, JD Conte (Sports Editor at The Suffolk Journal), Brain Le and Nathaly Lemus have officially resigned from their SGA responsibilities as of Feb. 15, and Gerado Saenz also submitted a letter of resignation Monday night. Some were committee chairs or acted as prominent voices within the organization.

Prior to sending letters of resignation, Le and Saenz missed at least three consecutive meetings, which violated SGA bylaws.

SGA Vice President Stephen Rykola, who takes attendance for all meetings, said it was “disheartening” to see certain members’ absentee count begin to rise.

“With school and people coming back to in-person, certain challenges have come up with people not being able to be here, whether it’s internships, other conflicts or just growing out of their position in terms of fully wanting to devote their time to contribute to this student body,” Rykola said

Despite this, he added it was important that students take time for themselves and that he sees former senators’ choices to resign as an opportunity to grow the organization.

Many senators and senators-at-large have risen to fill committee chairs following vacancies from resignations.

At the Feb. 10 session, Senator Katie Desmond was elected as class speaker for the class of 2023. Grace Kaine was approved as Student Affairs Chair at their Feb. 3 session. Conte was also previously the Student Affairs Chair, as reported by The Journal.

Among other committee chair resignations are Lemus, former Diversity Committee Chair and class speaker for the Class of 2024, and Casey, former chair of the Public Relations Committee as well as a justice for the Student Judicial Review Board.

Lemus was elected to SGA as a freshman, first as a senator then later class speaker. SGA was the first organization she joined on campus, back when meetings were held virtually.

“I immediately felt welcomed and I made a few friends despite the online setting,” she said.

However, Lemus said the environment of SGA soon became an unhealthy one.

“Especially during my first year, there were many internal conflicts and ‘scandals,’ and it was extremely exhausting seeing a polarized environment,” she said.

One of the factors that influenced Lemus’ decision to resign was her “experience as a woman of color in a leadership position,” she said.

“There were many moments in SGA where I felt like I wasn’t being heard or seen. It was a very anxiety-inducing and frustrating experience for me,” Lemus said. “I think the environment in SGA finally turned into something I did not want to be a part of and did not follow my values.”

The behavior of SGA conflicted with Lemus’s understanding of what the organization stood for, she said.

“SGA is about advocating for students and making Suffolk a better place for students and I believed in that,” Lemus said.

Lemus was the co-author of the only resolution that passed through the senate in the fall semester. At their Dec. 2 meeting, the resolution advocated for the university to change the name of October’s Fall Holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day.

Brian Le, former senator for the Class of 2023, echoed Lemus’s sentiments in his resignation letter, which was sent to members of SGA Feb. 4.

“In the time of being in SGA, there has been a lot of problems of students in this organization arguing, fighting eachother [sic], and displaying such unprofessional behavior towards eachother which has resulted in the stagnant process of everyone being able to best assist the student body,” Le said.

Le resigned shortly before his scheduled absentee hearing.

In a comment to The Journal, SGA President Angela El-Jazzar said that involvement has taken a hit since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The decision students make to leave is normal for any organization and is something that isn’t unique to just SGA. It is important to remind ourselves this has been a challenging year bouncing back from being on zoom and working around this continuing pandemic. Being a Senator or a Committee Chair is overwhelming, and it’s not built for everyone,” she said.

El-Jazzar encouraged both students and senators who have concerns or criticism with SGA to attend their meetings or notify the e-board.

Casey, former senator for the Class of 2022, resigned after he began working as the Sustainability Intern for the Facilities and Campus Planning Department. He has been a member of SGA since his sophomore year.

Casey played a variety of important roles for SGA in his tenure, including the Chair of the Housing and Facilities Committee and Senator-at-Large for Residence Life. He said almost all conflicts that arose in SGA were due to inconsistencies within the rules of the organization.

“I personally believe the SGA needs to reevaluate how we govern ourselves with our Constitution and By-Laws. These rules are a hodgepodge of contradicting paragraphs and spelling errors that have been edited and revised multiple times over the last few years.” Casey said.

He added that the rules were hard to access for senators and never covered during the SGA retreats he attended.

Follow Leo on Twitter @leowoods108

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About the Contributors
Leo Woods, Photo Editor | he/him

Leo is a senior political science major with a minor in journalism from Clinton, Connecticut. He has photographed political events, protests, performing arts groups and documented Boston Pride for the People for the History Project. Outside of Suffolk, Leo is an avid Dungeons and Dragons player and podcast listener. After graduation, he plans on attending law school and working in politics.

Follow Leo on X @leowoods108

James Bartlett, Multimedia Editor | he/him
James Bartlett is a senior studying print and web journalism. Originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, James has a strong interest in photojournalism and new journalism tools such as podcasting and user-generated content. James is currently a Web Journalist at WHDH Channel 7 and has previously worked at Boston.com and the Newburpoty Daily News. Follow James on Twitter @James_bartlett8 Email him at [email protected]

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Senators resign due to internal conflicts, internships, alleged discrimination