Elected VP Debrosse takes over SGA executive presidency after Rodenbush resigns

Lindsay Debrosse will serve as SGA’s next president.

Lindsay Debrosse is the Student Government Association’s new executive president, she confirmed to The Beacon Wednesday, filling the vacancy left behind by elected president Claire Rodenbush, who resigned Sunday afternoon

Debrosse, who ran a write-in campaign to win the executive vice presidency, became the frontrunner for Rodenbush’s position after her resignation. The vice president is constitutionally charged to take over the presidency if the position is vacated. 

Chief Justice Lilly Meehan-Egan and SGA Advisor Jason Meier, who were responsible for deciding how the organization was going to proceed, could have also chosen to pass the position to Jehan Ayesha, who finished second in the race for the presidency. Rodenbush won 43.7% of the votes cast for the presidency.

Debrosse will lead the organization from home as she has opted to learn remotely in the fall under the college’s hybrid plan and hopes to bridge the gap between the administration and the student body as president.

“I feel like there’s a lot of skepticism between the student body and the administration… because the administration can only do so much and the student body’s expecting a lot more, and I think the administration [needs to be more] transparent, especially with COVID,” she said. “I would’ve preferred if the administration said ‘we don’t know what’s going on’ then sending me three-page emails saying that they really don’t know what’s going on. I would have appreciated it if they had been more honest because I felt like it was a lot of mumbo jumbo.”

Meier said in a statement to The Beacon that he is excited to watch SGA grow under Debrosse’s leadership.

“Lindsay Debrosse has proven herself an incredible champion for students at Emerson College,” the statement reads. “Having served previously on the SGA Senate, as well as the student representative to the Board of Trustees, Lindsay has a strong knowledge of the organization and its responsibilities to the student community.”

Rodenbush had promised to bring radical change to SGA while Debrosse was endorsed by the majority of SGA’s membership, including former Executive President Will Palauskas and former Executive Vice President Melissa Bordelon. 

Debrosse hopes to pull Ayesha up to the vice presidency, an appointment that would be subject to a vote of approval from SGA members via Student Assembly.

“My dream would be I would be president and [Ayesha] would be VP,” she said in a phone interview from Florida. “That would be perfect, but that’s the furthest I’ve thought about it.”

However, Chief Justice Lilly Meehan-Egan said SGA plans to fill the position through the president pro tempore of the academic senate, which currently only has representatives in five of the 11 available positions after the spring semester elections. She said SGA will call a meeting to fill the available positions, though it is unclear how the organization plans to find candidates, and then the senate will appoint a president pro tempore who will be elevated to the vice presidency, as dictated in the constitution. Appointments to the senate are made by the executive president and subject to a two-thirds vote from Student Assembly.

Debrosse, pictured middle right, in a Spring Financial Advisory Board meeting. (Media: Yongze Wang)

“We’re going to fill up those positions using our election procedures and then we’ll go from there in picking the [president pro tempore] who will become the vice president,” she said.

It remains unclear why Rodenbush chose to resign, and SGA has not publicly commented on her resignation beyond a statement to The Beacon from Meier. 

SGA is also currently without an executive treasurer as no one ran in the spring elections to replace outgoing treasurer Abigail Semple. The executive treasurer is responsible for a number of crucial duties of SGA’s day-to-day functioning, including overseeing the Financial Advisory Board and the newly formed Financial Equity Committee, as well as delegating funding to student organizations collected via the student services fee.

The funding process for student organizations typically begins over the summer.

Meehan-Egan told The Beacon that the Executive Board will work to appoint someone to the position, but did not provide any sort of timeline. 

“We are still talking about how to handle that and that is something we’ll definitely talk more about in the future,” she said. “We’re discussing it as an [executive board] with Lindsay as president and we’ll definitely be putting more out what’s going to happen in the future.”

Updated 7/22/20: This article was updated to include an interview with Chief Justice Lilly Meehan-Egan and additional information about how SGA will fill its open vice president and academic senate positions.