While Florida Southern’s student body continues to search for answers to Title IX concerns, the Student Government Association (SGA) faces frustration from its members and students amid elections and COVID-19 exhaustion.
On March 21, SGA posted a statement on Instagram responding to widespread and anonymous reports of Title IX violations from alumni and students, which began appearing days earlier.
The statement addressed an outpour of concern from members of the student body but was not entirely well received. Negative comments appeared below the post.
“Not going to lie, I was expecting more,” Florida Southern junior Mara Benton commented on SGA’s post. “More than just ‘This sucks. We’re gonna try to try something.’ I expected a plan of action even if you can’t explicitly announce what you’re doing. Because the students so desperately need their leaders to stand up right now.”
Some members of SGA share the students’ concerns but acknowledge the numerous challenges posed by this semester.
These challenges, like long online meetings, have taken “a mental toll” on members of SGA this year, according to Director of Student Involvement Jacqueline Inskeep.
Local and global issues have mounted since the student body was sent home from campus last year only days before the SGA election concluded on March 25 due to the emergence of COVID-19 in the United States.
Inskeep said that none of the members currently serving on the executive board “had any idea that this [was] the year they were up against” in reference to COVID-19 and Title IX.
“Like all of us, SGA has been faced with a number of challenging issues this year: the pandemic, political unrest, racial injustice, recent Title IX concerns within our campus community and more. It’s important to know that in times of unrest, SGA officers are still students who are navigating these waters at the same time as the rest of the student body,” Inskeep said.
The newly elected executive board headed by Student Body President Allen Shorey, although with attentive concern, is optimistic about the future outcomes of student government at Florida Southern.
“It’s no secret this last year has been so difficult for so many of us. SGA has been the steady rock and anchor of the student body through it all,” Shorey said.
Outgoing Executive Vice President Lexi Potter believes that the comments left by students and alumni under the March 21 post have pushed the executive board to take the concerns more seriously.
“To be honest I think if those comments hadn’t happened, SGA wouldn’t be taking [Title IX concerns] as seriously as they are now,” Potter said. “It’s pushed them to want to do more.”
But over a month later, still, nearly nothing seems to be in the works, according to Potter.
“Personally, I have not been to senate since the Title IX violations have been brought to light, but I think it’s very telling that SGA took a few days to even make an instagram post,” junior Education Senator Rachael Bennett said.
While at one point a second Town Hall focusing on these student Title IX concerns was the popular suggestion among senators, since then the initiative has been picked up by the Florida Southern administration, who on April 27 hosted a Title IX information panel.
“I honestly expected to be doing a little more,” sophomore Education Senator Kayla Rosecrants said in reference to her first year as an SGA senator. “But obviously with COVID-19 guidelines and conditions there’s only so much we can do.”
Shorey expressed that Title IX issues are not unique only to Florida Southern and that he plans on fully addressing these issues during his term.
“The unfortunate reality is that every college campus deals with these issues. In my opinion, I believe that we have an exceptional student body and administrative staff that is capable of working together to streamline communication about Title IX violation education and prevention,” Shorey said. “I plan to tackle these issues immediately and consistently, because it is so important to stand with survivors and advocate for them to feel safe.”
Shorey has not previously served on the Student Government Association and is the first to serve as president without any previous experience in five years, or five previously serving presidents.
“That means I have a lot to learn. But it also means I can bring a new perspective on how things are looked at. Through a unified structure that values transparency, organization, and communication, I anticipate our teams will reach great success, together,” Shorey said.