Five senators resigned from their respective positions within the Student Government Association (SGA).
The resignations included Priscilla Febus, who served as a Communication and the Arts senator; Kayla Rivers, who served as an Arts and Sciences senator and parliamentarian; at-large senators Kadean Dennis and Taylor Newkirk; and education senator and Academic Affairs Committee Chair, Amber Ingram.
Ingram said that her resignation was “due to disagreements with the organization as a whole.” Ingram also said that all the senators who resigned have spoken both “individually and collectively” with SGA Advisor Colleen Dallavalle, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Karen Van Norman and Vice President of Student Services Shawna Cooper-Gibson about their reasons for leaving the organization.
“Fortunately, they were very receptive and institutional changes are in the works in SGA because of those conversations,” Ingram said.
During her time as an SGA senator, Ingram identified herself as a “disruptor.” She told The Setonian in October 2019 that she felt that SGA had been “very safe” in the things they’ve done in the past and that she was “tired of it.”
Ingram authored a bill titled the “Land Recognition Bill” last fall to be read at every SGA meeting. The Bill would recognize the native Lenape people who occupied the land Seton Hall was built on. The central debate surrounding the passage of this bill revolved around whether the reading would be read before or after the meeting invocation. In the end, the senate voted to have the reading occur afterwards. Ingram told The Setonian then that she was “not a fan” of the vote but that she was “happy that it passed.”
Ingram said that despite her resignation she was glad she was able to enact change through the passing of this bill, her role on Provost Karen Boroff’s advising committee and through other initiatives she helped with.
Newkirk told The Setonian that the main reason she resigned from her position with SGA was because she felt she was able to implement changes and advocate for students without her at-large position.
“I would much rather someone who is more passionate about the position replace me instead of me taking a spot that I feel like a placeholder in,” she said.
The other three senators who resigned from their positions did not respond to The Setonian’s request for comment.
Recently, SGA leadership announced the formation of a “SGA Culture Task Force.” The focus of the task force, according to Frank Mabalatan, vice president of SGA, is “making those who wish to be a part of SGA and serve their student body feel welcome to do so.”
“The task force will be a reflective entity that seeks to understand the experience of each SGA officer and to use those experiences to create a culture of synergy and collaboration,” he said.
Also according to Mabalatan, the task force is the result of a “collective feeling” to reflect upon how SGA currently functions and how that affects the senators’ service to their peers.
“In a way, it was an idea from all of us,” he said.
When asked whether the creation of this task force was related to the recent senator resignations, Mabalatan said that “it is an important aspect of why a task force is necessary.”
“SGA officers usually come into SGA as already active students, so they may resign because they believe they cannot balance all of their current obligations in addition to the work of SGA,” he said. “The Task Force is purposed with finding out if there are any reasons outside of that specific scenario because then it is something we can adjust or refine.”
Rishi Shah, president of SGA, said that this task force was “long overdue” and that although SGA leadership expects resignations between every fall and spring semester, it is time that they reflect on how they use their roles to better the Seton Hall experience for students as a whole, including those that serve within their organization.
“It is sad to see such dedicated and insightful student leaders depart the organization,” Shah said. “I wish them nothing but the best.”
Isabel Soisson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find her on twitter @IsabelSoisson.