By Tias Webster, Student Union Assembly President
When originally asked to respond to the letter written by Jay Semana, I refused, saying that all students have the right to develop and publicize their own opinion, and that I would be happy to meet with anyone with concerns. That said, I feel that the issues at hand are too dangerous to allow silence.
Jay Semana’s resignation is deeply dishonest, designed to posture himself and his affiliates to grab support in the upcoming elections. Semana has already stated in private conversations that his criticisms were made to help him build an “anti-institution” image, and that he does not stand by them; his integrity is highly suspect, and his motivations likely stem from a desire to seek office in the upcoming SUA elections.
To address two main points of Semana’s letter directly – the replacement of the Organizing Director with the Vice President of Student Life was voted on by the campus at large, not enacted internally as Semana asserts, and the Union’s move to be placed under the Dean of Students was the direct result of an internal audit enacted by students as a result of a lack of efficacy within SOAR. Neither of these decisions was made recently or by direct will of the assembly.
That withstanding, it’s critically important to separate ideals from politics, and many of the fundamentals raised in this letter will be considered separately from their source material. I’ve operated on the belief that the Student Union should serve students however they want to be served, not to focus on activism above all else, but there are many convincing arguments to the contrary, and the SUA’s future priorities will be decided by those students who choose to stay, to speak, and to listen – not to resign, not to hunt for power, but to seek change in a way that respects individual opinion and healthy debate. Discussion has begun in the Assembly and is ongoing; any student who would like to be involved is welcome to come talk to me – contact information is openly available at sua.ucsc.edu.