SGA fills open positions after president steps down

Olivia Doak

Last Thursday, May 2, newly-elected Student Government Association (SGA) president Haley DeGreve chose to step down as a result of student demand during open student body reports.
At DeGreve’s first meeting as president, over 20 students from various multicultural groups on campus expressed their grievances to the senate about the offensive language DeGreve used in a Twitter video.  
The release of the Twitter video sparked larger resentment about SGA and the climate at Augustana. When senior Crystal Salazar addressed the senate, she said, “Augustana failed me.”
According to Salazar, she never felt represented, included, or accepted on campus. “There’s a lot of talk about community [at Augie] and I don’t believe in it,” Salazar said.
Agreeing, a first-year senator, Alondra Ochoa said, “The retention rate for students of color at Augustana is pretty low. Students of color don’t come back [to Augie] because they don’t feel supported in this type of environment. I think it’s largely because incidents like these occur and nothing happens to reprimand them.”
Many students supported DeGreve’s decision to step down and believed it was the right thing to do.
“We are all human. We all make mistakes,” sophomore CSD senator, Molly Bastida, said. “But I think it’s how you respond to those mistakes and learn from them, and I don’t think she responded to her mistakes in the way people wanted.”
As a result, Bastida said, “I think it was apparent that everyone lost trust in her, that she wouldn’t listen to us and listen to the student body of what they wanted. If she couldn’t listen to the student body when they’re telling her how to fix a problem she is having, when else will she not listen to us when there’s an actual problem?”
Sophomore and vice president of Black Student Union, Ashanti Mobley, was one of the leaders of the protest and encouraged people to come by voicing their opinion at the meeting.
Mobley said, “It showed that [DeGreve] was willing to do what it takes to better the situation. I felt like it takes a big person to step out of their position and it shows that she’s with what we’re trying to do.”
After DeGreve stepped down, former vice president Carl Frasor became president. Russell McNab will take on the new role of vice president, Molly Bastida the new treasurer, and Kaitlyn Watkins the new speaker of the senate.
The Observer made multiple requests to interview the former and current SGA president but received no comment.
Moving forward, SGA is ready to address the grievances of groups that are often excluded on campus.
“Hearing my friends voice their complaints and disappointments in SGA was heartbreaking,”  junior Urbano Solis, senator for the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity (OSID), said. “I hope that the disappointment expressed by students will make SGA realize we need to do more in pursuing diversity and inclusivity.”
Bastida and Solis said that one of the most important factors that contributes to the success of SGA and their ability to make change is the connection between the organization and the student body.
“A more personal connection with the campus is what SGA needs the most,” Bastida said.
Solis agrees, saying it’s vital to “have more people come during the open student body reports so that we can work with the students and have more connection between them.”
According to Bastida, the biggest thing that helps SGA in advocating for students is for students to come to their meetings and advocate for themselves.
SGA meetings are held every Thursday at 7 pm in the Wilson Center. According to the SGA, any student is welcome to come to the SGA meetings and address the senate about anything they want to see changed or done better on campus.
“Speak up and speak out and don’t be afraid,” Mobley said. “You don’t realize the impact your voice can have.”