SGA Merger abandoned after months of work

By: Gerard Albert III/Assistant News Director


It’s over.

After six months of constitutional review meetings, a previous failed attempt and a university wide congress meeting turned hostile, the merging of the two Student Government Councils is dead, according to an email sent to SGA officials from Elizabeth Bejar Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.

The Biscayne Bay Campus Student Government Council took a sigh of relief after receiving the email from Bejar.

“I was ecstatic,” said SGC-BBC President Jefferson Noel.

SGC-BBC abandoned merger discussions last year after a lack of student buy in and structural disagreements.

This year, Noel and the rest of SGC-BBC fought against the merge, voting it down unanimously in senate. Lack of proper representation worried the council from the start.

Things got interesting on Monday, Oct. 15, when SGC-MMC senate also voted against the merge, leading to weeks of confusion about the future of SGA.

Bejar, who has not responded for comment, put an end to the confusion via email to both SGC presidents the day of a university wide congress meeting alerting them that the merge had been called off.

“We are not moving forward with the OneSGA initiative,” her email stated.

The congress meeting between the two SGC senates was scheduled to discuss the merge. While some senators explored new ways to work together, others, insulted by an outburst from the SGC-BBC Chief Justice, refused to work together.

President of SGC-MMC Sabrina Leeloo Rosell was in favor of the merge but did not like the way the new constitution was structured. Her vice president, Peter Hernandez is in favor of the merge, saying it would help both campuses financially.

So, what went wrong?

The two councils have operated separately since 1992, including campus specific president, vice president and senate.

The merger was mandated by former vice president for Student Affairs Larry Lunsford last year, and would have merged the two councils by Fall 2020.

SGC-BBC felt that the administration was forcing them into something the students did not want and that the conversations lacked student voices.

Jerome Scott, Campus Life coordinator, agreed. Scott sat on the committee that worked to reform the OneSGA constitution for the past six months.

“There should have been more student involvement in the process,” he told Student Media.

The committee was comprised of Scott, SGA advisor Larissa Adames, assistant vice president of Student Affairs Anthony DeSantis along with President Noel, Vice President Jonathan Espino and Senate Speaker John Habib from BBC and President Jose Sirven, Finance Chair Javier Ortiz and Speaker Pro Brandon Aquino from MMC. Sirven and Ortiz resigned before the meetings came to an end because of their involvement in a contract scandal.

Jose Toscano, director of Campus Life, doesn’t think both sides discussed the bigger picture of what a merge would do for students.

“There were a lot of proposals,” said Toscano, “but I don’t think they were all thought out thoroughly.”

Proposals included multiple vice presidents and a combined senate based off school specific enrollment.

Day to day workflow of new SGA structures are important but were not discussed as much as titles, said Toscano.

As for the rest of the year, advisors say they want to see both SGCs move forward with collaboration across campuses, including the engineering center and FIU @ I-75.

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