Submission: Letter from Merrill Student Government Chair

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By Kimberly Runyan, Merrill Student Government Chair

As a college birthed from student activism, we cannot allow the words of Jay Semana to be silenced nor forgotten. Merrill Student Government stands with Semana as his actions opened up an essential conversation to reform the Student Union Assembly (SUA) that was long overdue.

Issues within the SUA were not solely introduced in Semana’s letter. With two resignations in a period of four months, internal conflict is self-evident. The larger issue at hand is the lack of transparency and sense of community demonstrated by our student union.

As a student government, we understand the SUA is an entity difficult to grasp until you have been submerged in the space. However, that should not be so. The implications are problematic when members, including the president, cannot agree on the main function. A movement to solidify the SUA’s fundamental purpose is imperative.

In addition, the SUA claims to be a welcoming space, however it is notoriously viewed as a highly intimidating, oligarchic space. In order to break this stereotype and accurately represent the undergraduate population, SUA members must continuously reach out and engage in the entire community.

In efforts to rebuild both transparency and community in our own home, Merrill’s SUA representatives will continue to prioritize the integration of the SUA and the Merrill community but focus on attaining the solidarity the student union desperately needs with extensive outreach, communication, and inclusion.

Regardless, Semana has brought the SUA to the forefront of many student conversations and Merrill’s representatives will ensure clarity and visibility to the Merrill student body.

We anticipate an era of change within and outside of the SUA. Therefore, we affirm that students who recognize issues, can and should voice them. We affirm that students must utilize their representatives as a resource and need to hold them accountable. We affirm that change can also be made on this campus outside the purview of the SUA. Above all, we affirm the power of each individual within our student body.