SGA under fire for lack of innovation


A display of posters hung on the door of the Multi-Purpose Room holding SGA accountable for a lack of visibility among students. Curtsey of The Student Government Association.

By Chris Van Buskirk

An unknown party posted flyers criticizing the Student Government Association on the door of the Multi-Purpose Room on April 3 before the organization’s weekly meeting.  

About 80 fliers and 10 Berkeley Beacon newspapers hung outside the MPR with phrases such as “#Fiveyearsofwhitefeminism” and “SGA Do your job. Represent us.” In the past, SGA faced the issue of increasing their presence on-campus. This year, only 7 percent of the undergraduate student population voted in the election—or 265 students of 3,799.

In an effort to combat the problem, the Beacon previously reported that members of SGA said they wanted to publicize themselves more often in on-campus media outlets such as the Emerson Channel. SGA also wanted to utilize the public relations chair position to increase their social media impact among students.

“The points raised in these series of postings are important and are ones that we need to take into account moving forward,” Executive Treasurer Ian Mandt said at the Tuesday meeting.

Mandt said he wants to know who posted the signs to start a dialogue about what SGA can do moving forward—not to get anyone in trouble. While the room contained SGA members and a Beacon reporter, he encouraged anyone who wants to address something to approach SGA representatives or go to joint session every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. in the MPR.

We choose information accessibility

News and the truth are under constant attack in our current moment, just when they are needed the most. The Beacon’s quality, fact-based accounting of historic events has never mattered more, and our editorial independence is of paramount importance. We believe journalism is a public good that should be available to all regardless of one’s ability to pay for it. But we can not continue to do this without you. Every little bit, whether big or small, helps fund our vital work — now and in the future.

“It’s a stab at SGA but it’s good for us to get these kicks in the butt sometimes,” Mandt said. “It’s important for us to be held accountable for the work that we haven’t done.”

The party highlighted excerpts of the Beacon article, including a comparison between the campaign tactics of Executive President-Elect Jessica Guida and write-in candidate Christopher Henderson-West’s.

The highlighted quotes compared Guida’s statement, “I’ve been trying to utilize social media a lot because, obviously, we are all very busy people and there isn’t a central place on campus all the time to access everyone,” and a statement from Henderson-West, “So actually, going out to these meetings or to residential floors and figuring out what do people need, what do they want in order to help maintain those relationships.”

Executive President Anne Makielski said the “#Fiveyearsofwhitefeminism” is a comment on the past four years of white-identifying executive presidents. Guida is the fourth consecutive white female president.

“It can be hard to be in roles like this … to represent students that cannot see themselves in you,” Guida said at the meeting. “I haven’t had the opportunity to be in this role yet, so I would hope that … I can have the same chance as others that came before me to make things better.”

One flyer read #notmySGApresident in bold black letters.

Guida said in an interview that she does not see the posters as a personal attack but an opportunity for conversation to determine how she can best represent her new constituents.

“I think it’s good to have people that are willing to hold you accountable because then you can assess when things maybe aren’t going as well as they should be,” she said.

Henderson-West said in an interview that he did not post the flyers or organize the incident. He also said the flyers hold SGA accountable for not doing their job as well as they could.

“Do I think SGA is useless right now? Yes. Do I think it has potential and do I think it needs to start doing what it was created to do? Yes,” Henderson-West said.

Emerson Staff took down the posters because they violated the college’s flyer posting policy. SGA shared images of the scene on their Facebook page.

“We, as members of SGA, work hard to address student concerns and represent our constituents,” the Facebook post that accompanied the photos read. “Much of our work happens behind the scenes and incrementally; but that does not excuse us from fault. It is important for us to be held accountable for the work we have and haven’t done.


Correction, April 11: A previous version of this article said 251 students voted in the Student Government Association elections, but the correct number is 265. A previous version also stated that Jessica Guida is the fifth consecutive white executive president, but she is actually the third consecutive white executive president but it has been five years of white women in a row.