After rocky fall semester, SGA optimistic about spring

A+Student+Assembly+meeting+during+the+Fall+2020+semester.+

Media: Diana Bravo

A Student Assembly meeting during the Fall 2020 semester.

By Frankie Rowley, Assistant News Editor

The Fall 2020 semester saw the Student Government Association struggle to adapt its day-to-day functioning to its new legislative model passed in the spring, a difficulty further complicated by the limitations of the pandemic. 

Multiple vacancies and scheduling conflicts afflicted the organization in the fall. These issues were only exacerbated by the new legislative model, which was implemented via a new constitution passed in April. Two new bodies designed to pass legislation, the Student Experience Senate and the Financial Equity Committee, were created but did not meet during the fall. Legislation is intended to serve as a call to action to administrators. 

Executive President Lindsay Debrosse attributed some of the struggles to her unexpected rise to the presidency, as well as the logistics of her spending the entire semester at home in Florida while working a full-time job. Debrosse took over the position after former Executive President Claire Rodenbush’s resignation in July,.

Debrosse, who will be returning to the Boston campus for the spring, mounted a write-in campaign for the executive vice presidency after serving as the class of 2022 senator. 

“I was going into it thinking that I would still just be a senator,” Debrosse said. “I was nowhere near the mindset of, ‘I’m going to have to run this next semester,’ especially during a pandemic…we were building the path as we went. It was tiring and exhausting, because obviously, I’m home, it’s different when you’re in the same room with everyone, and it’s a little easier to control.” 

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Executive Vice President Jehan Ayesha-Wirasto served as a major player in transitioning to the new legislative model, Debrosse said. 

“Jay has done [the transition] very smoothly, and I think maybe it’s just because of how I experienced it as just, this is my new format,” Debrosse said. 

Debrosse laid out a series of goals for the Spring 2021 semester, like establishing better resources for students and staff who may be struggling with mental health issues. 

“I really want to work and focus on the mental health aspect at Emerson because people are really struggling,” Debrosse said. “I want students to be able to have a place to go, even if it’s not necessarily a therapist, but having the kind of resources they need. I think a lot of times our focus is on students because we’re students, but these teachers have been absolute champions for me.” 

Among Debrosse’s plans is also developing better resources for students who have experienced racial bias and other instances of racism on campus. Debrosse said she hopes those situations are addressed head-on. 

“I’m talking with the Director for Faculty Development and Diversity Tuesda Roberts, and making sure students know and understand that just because you do a bias report doesn’t necessarily mean that action will be taken,” Debrosse said. “I want to find alternative ways and the right people and resources to go to when an issue like this arises that needs to be addressed. It can’t be swept under the rug, which I think Emerson does a very good job of doing.” 

Debrosse also plans on creating an SGA newsletter in Spring 2021 that will update students on SGA happenings throughout the semester. 

“I don’t want The Beacon to be the only resource that’s reporting on SGA—I want SGA to report on SGA,” Debrosse said. “I want to do a newsletter so it’s not like people are getting scraps of what’s going on—they’re getting tangible things that are happening, legislation that’s going on, things that we’re voting on, things that were voted on, at least what individual members are working on with other faculty, and how students can help and or participate.” 

Executive Treasurer Thomas Coughlin did not run for re-election during the Fall 2020 election cycle, leaving the position vacant for the Spring 2021 semester. Debrosse said she plans to fill Coughlin’s position, though SGA will likely begin the spring semester without an executive treasurer. If no one fills the position prior to the semester starting, it would be the first time in 20 years the position was left vacant, according to the organization’s former advisor Sharon Duffy.  

“We are currently looking for a new treasurer and a new secretary on the Executive Board, and I have a chief of staff lined up,” Debrosse said. “I have another position on my executive cabinet lined up and there are more people interested.” 

Rodenbush currently serves as The Beacon’s assistant opinion editor and does not edit any news stories.