A rundown of the political turmoil within USGA

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Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin/Krista Smith.

The USGA e-board and Greg Overend on the stage at the meeting, Dec. 9, 2022.

Stephen Gangi & Mia Adduci

After a week of heavy scrutiny from students within the University of New Haven community, eyes and ears settled onto the final Friday meeting for the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) this semester. However, it was far from a standard meeting as students looked for answers to recent allegations made by former Senior Vice President (SVP) Hailey Perez, a junior marine biology major.

At the USGA meeting on Dec. 2, Perez alleged that her resignation stems from the “bullying” and “belittling” she has faced from the USGA executive board (e-board). This caused confusion among students who were unsure of what happened, pushing the USGA to address it at their meeting on Friday. What resulted was a look into the fallout of the allegations, and the changes within USGA for next semester.

The day before the final meeting, the USGA e-board released a statement in acknowledgement of the prior meeting’s activity in an email sent to the undergraduate student body. The statement said, “We were not aware of the Senior Vice President’s intent to resign until the letter was read at last Friday’s USGA meeting. Being one of the most influential organizations on campus, we must hold each other accountable for our actions and decisions.”

The statement then said, “Our main priority within our elected positions is to collectively build a strong and positive campus community; we remain focused on this important goal.” The statement was signed by each of the remaining e-board members.

Saniyah Brinney, a political science major and the president of the USGA e-board, began the General Assembly meeting by saying, “throughout this meeting I just want everyone to be peaceful, reflect and to leave and come in here with positive intentions.”

Prior to the transition into new business on the meeting’s agenda, the advisor for the USGA e-board Gregory Overend said, “I take these [situations] very seriously and I’m doing my due diligence to assess the next steps.”

Overend also said, “I take students’ concerns very seriously. Let’s move forward for the betterment of USGA, our students and the university community.”

Another announcement made during the General Assembly meeting by the remainder of the executive board was that a vote would be opened up regarding the resignation of the SVP, which was unable to be held at the prior general assembly meeting on Dec. 2. Due to the aforementioned events, the resignation of the SVP was unconstitutional in accordance to Article VI, section 4, clause 4 of the USGA constitution, which says, “Letters of resignation must be submitted to the USGA president at least 48 hours prior to the meeting in which it will be voted upon.”

At 3:01 p.m. on Friday, the vote was met with a majority decision to affirm Perez’s requested resignation. This was then followed by an announcement from the Vice President of Community, Advocacy and Diversity (CAD) Mary Lippa, a senior psychology major, who moved to resign from their position at the end of the current semester on Dec. 20. On the matter, Lippa said that the resignation was “due to professional and personal reasons” but that she “greatly enjoyed my time in this role.”

The request was also voted upon and affirmed by those in attendance and Lippa’s resignation was passed at 3:02 p.m.

This means that there are now two executive board positions that will need to be filled going into the spring semester. The meeting this past Friday did not indicate any motions to begin the process of filling these positions yet.

According to the meeting minutes sent out from USGA to recognized student organizations (RSOs), Perez said “I will be resigning from my position effective immediately for the benefit of myself and my mental health. I wanted to make changes in the House but felt bullied and belittled. I felt humiliated and silenced by my Eboard.” Perez did not respond to any requests to comment on the situation.

When asked to comment on the situation, several RSOs declined.

Following a request to comment, the USGA e-board said, “Our Executive Board is working together to reflect and grow following last week’s events. As a cohesive team we are striving to listen to the feedback undergraduate students provide us with to create a more positive campus community. During the winter break, the USGA Executive Board will aim to establish a road map for how we can address the concerns that have been brought forward to us. We are looking forward to addressing these concerns through positive initiatives and actions throughout the Spring semester.”

Overend also provided an additional statement on the matters, in which he clarified the events from his point-of-view. He said that “Hailey [Perez] came by office 20 minutes before the USGA that she resigned and shared that she was resigning. She did not share her letter. She thanked me for my support.”