Click here to read about the senators who resigned this year. Two committee members are not included in this timeline because student government members could not confirm when they resigned.
Fourteen student government members, 11 of whom were senators, resigned from their positions this academic year, compared to the six senators that former President Annabell Liao said resigned during the 2015-16 academic year.
President Mitchell Rosenberg, who was sworn into the position May 1, said that many of the resignations can be attributed to a lack of communication between the executive council and senate candidates about the senator duties before they ran. Four senators resigned because they were studying abroad or graduating a semester early.
In the past, the operating documents did not reflect that the expected term of office for a member of student government was a full academic year, Rosenberg said.
“I think it’s important that the minimum requirement isn’t necessarily what we want someone to be doing,” Rosenberg said. “We’re going to want you to go above and beyond every person in that room to get that change.”
The election code was amended Feb. 3 to specify that the president, vice president and the senate must serve the full fall and spring semesters, or the remainder of the term, after an election.
“We’re very clear at the candidate meetings,” Rosenberg said. “There are a lot of people who didn’t run in the (April 24 election) because they could only serve one semester.”
Rosenberg said that although the year-long term requirement is in the election code, there is no consequence if a senator does not complete his or her term.
Student government held two special elections this academic year to fill seats left empty by resignations.
School of Pharmacy Senator Judy Weng wrote in her resignation letter – which former Vice President Tyler Porterfield provided to The Panther April 24 – that she chose to resign because she felt like she had become a victim of “group bullying” in the senate.
“Two of the senators within my committee have been teaming up and recruiting other senators within (student government) to side with them and make me feel both uncomfortable and vulnerable,” Weng wrote. “(Student government’s) environment has given me a lot of pressure, both mentally and physically. I am very disappointed in (student government) and regret that I stepped foot inside this organization in the first place.”
Rosenberg said May 2 that Weng resigned for “personal reasons,” but did not respond to later requests from The Panther to clarify the statements that Weng made in her resignation letter. Weng did not respond to The Panther’s request for comment.
Of the 14 resignations, four senators cited studying abroad or graduating a semester early as their reason for resigning.
“I made this commitment knowing that I would be going abroad, but also knowing that the time in the interim of my trip to London should be spent fighting for change on behalf of this talented body of students,” College of Performing Arts Senator Zacharias Estrada wrote in his resignation letter Oct. 13, which Porterfield provided to The Panther.
The first special election, which was held Nov. 9, filled seats left vacant by three senators early in the academic year. Senior Class Senator Emma Cronshaw, Argyros School of Business and Economics Senator Vi Luong and College of Performing Arts Senator Tosh Turner resigned from the senate within the first two months of the school year.
Cronshaw resigned because she was planning to graduate a semester early, Luong resigned because of outside commitments and Turner resigned when he transferred to a different university.
There was a second special election Feb. 17 to fill three senate seats that were left empty at the end of the fall semester due to resignations from College of Performing Arts Senator Victoria Bohush, Senior Class Senator Thea Knobel and School of Pharmacy Senator Judy Weng.
“While I have truly had an incredible experience from the opportunities presented to me throughout my time as a part of (student government), I no longer feel I am best suited for my position in (the) senate,” Bohush wrote in her resignation letter Dec. 5, which Porterfield provided to The Panther. “I feel (student government) has become an organization I cannot dedicate my time and energy to at this time.”
Student Organizations Senator Ahmad Al-Bunnia resigned from his position less than a week after being censured by the senate. Seth Stukalin, a senior business administration major, was appointed as an at-large senator April 14, with less than three weeks in the semester to serve on the senate.
Director of Elections Chris Nelson, Elections Committee member Ryan Rodriguez and Review Board member Helen Garcia were the only student government members who were not senators to resign from their positions.
Rosenberg said that Nelson resigned during interterm because he was unable to fulfill his duties, Rodriguez was removed from his position because he was not responding to the Director of Elections, and Garcia resigned due to scheduling conflicts. Rosenberg said he did not know when Rodriguez and Garcia resigned.