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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

Stephen Merrick: Looking to lead with transparency

Courtesy of Stephen Merrick

Stephen Merrick, a sophomore law major, is running for Student Government Association president against incumbent Angela El-Jazzar. 

Merrick has been a senator for the Class of 2024 for the past two years. He also serves as the academics chair of SGA, as well as a justice on the Student Judicial Review Board. He served as the vice-chair of SJRB last semester, but resigned to take up the position on the Academic Committee.

Outside of SGA, Merrick is the vice president of the Suffolk University Democrats, a political club on campus. 

“I’m running with the hopes of increasing transparency within SGA,” Merrick said. He also wants to “make sure the Suffolk administration is held accountable to its students.” 

Merrick said that he is fighting for the students at Suffolk. He wants to assure “all students are given the best possible opportunity to succeed on campus,” he said.

Merrick understands that the road ahead of the election may be difficult, especially since he is campaigning against an incumbent opponent.

“I think, in all honesty, I am the best fit for the job,” he said. ”I have some different ideas and I want to take us in a different direction, and I think the presidency is the best role to do that in.” 

Merrick plans to address recent major decisions made by the university over winter break: a tuition increase, the first in two years, as well as the university’s booster shot requirement, which was required by March 1. 

“There were some pretty large decisions made over winter break,” Merrick said. “I am pro-vaccine, I wrote the first resolution calling for vaccinations on campus, but the fact that these two decisions were made with no student input is really wrong,” he said. 

“It’s the role of SGA to say ‘hey these big issues are being made with no input from the students.’” Merrick continued. “I just want to change the attitude on that, and work toward making sure the students are aware of these issues and … they know they do and should have a voice on these issues.” 

When speaking about his stance on transparency within SGA, he addressed The Journal’s recent article  that reported a string of senator resignations.

“We need to look more internally on certain issues….There were a lot of claims that a lot of senators took personally [in the article]… but at the same time, there was also an attitude that a lot of people were very quick to say [the reasons for the resignations] wasn’t an issue,” he said. 

“If people do feel that this is an issue, it needs to be looked at and we really didn’t look at it that deeply,” he continued. 

Making sure senators are comfortable bringing up internal issues with SGA is a part of Merrick’s mission, he said.

“At the very least, if people feel more comfortable talking to The Journal rather than at SGA, that’s a problem internally too. We need to make sure people feel comfortable expressing their opinions when they do feel there is something wrong… They shouldn’t have had to go to The Journal in the first place, they should have been able to say that in SGA.”

Over his two years in SGA, Merrick has had a hand in resolutions calling for a university-wide vaccine mandate, which he calls “one of my larger achievements in the senate.” 

One thing Merrick is excited to see move forward is a resolution he introduced that would revisit Suffolk’s pet policy in residence halls, allowing students to have fish in the dorms. 

“I authored the resolution that has passed the SJRB and I am awaiting it on the senate floor,” he said. “Most universities allow it and I’m not sure why Suffolk does not, so I am eagerly awaiting an update on that.”

Merrick is also helping with a new code of conduct for senators, in conjunction with Senator Stephen Murnane, chair of SGA’s Diversity Committee.

“Our bylaws outline how to remove senators who are acting inappropriately or doing something wrong, but they don’t really describe specifically what issues lead to that point,” Merrick said. “The senate is supposed to be the leaders of the students on this campus and we need to make sure that we’re held to a higher standard.”

Merrick was a vocal supporter of the resolution to rename the university’s Fall Holiday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day that passed in November, and is a co-sponsor for the active Parents’ Room resolution, a bill to rename Suffolk’s mothers’ rooms to parents’ room.. During his time with SJRB, the team worked to amend SGA’s legislative bylaws, which previously “made it so the executive board could pre-veto any legislation before it came to the senate floor,” according to Merrick. 

“Thankfully that’s gone now, and I’m really happy to have helped with that,” he said.

In regard to the university’s COVID-19 response, Merrick said his only issue “has been the lack of student input on [their decisions].”

Merrick said he wants students to understand he is fighting for a better SGA, so that senators can better represent the student body. 

“The senate does need to internally look at how some things are functioning, and make sure [we address calls that] are made saying we are doing something wrong with regards to diversity, then rather than try to sweep it under the rug,” he said.  “I’m not sure how we can solve it, but at the very least it is something that needs to be looked at more than just trying to deny it.”

Follow Emily on Twitter @emilyhbeatty

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About the Contributor
Emily Beatty
Emily Beatty, Arts & Entertainment Editor | she/they
Emily is a senior English literature and print/web journalism double-major from Canton, Mass. After joining The Journal amidst a pandemic, Emily can be found writing about all things music and pop culture. When not writing, she can be found working, listening to music (probably Taylor Swift) and with a half empty cup of iced coffee in hand. After graduation, Emily hopes to continue to cover music for local publishers in Boston.
Follow Emily on Twitter  @emilyhbeatty

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Stephen Merrick: Looking to lead with transparency