JCU Freedom Society proposes changes to Student Government amidst calls for increased diversity, transparency

The JCU Freedom Society proposed new legislation on the Student Government senate floor to increase diversity following the impeachment of Matt Meyer.

@realFreedomSoc on Twitter

The JCU Freedom Society proposed new legislation on the Student Government senate floor to increase diversity following the impeachment of Matt Meyer.

Laken Kincaid, Campus Editor

Five hours after the first article of impeachment removing former Student Government President Matt Meyer from office passed, the JCU Freedom Society tweeted a response to the news, calling Student Government “an exclusionary, elitist group…” and claiming that the body is unrepresentative of the community as a whole.  

The JCU Freedom Society is a relatively new organization on campus established in Spring 2019 under the guidance of current president Luke Hoffman ‘22. Hoffman told The Carroll News that the organization currently advocates for two governmental issues: ranked-choice voting and ending qualified immunity. However, the Freedom Society quickly saw an opportunity to weigh-in on a local campus issue with Meyer’s impeachment.

“Matt Meyer’s impeachment revealed that they [Student Government] are not acting with our best interests in mind,” Hoffman told The Carroll News. “If a fairly elected Student Government president can be impeached for something as fickle as failing to give a “State of the University address,” then we believe it is clear that such a government shares no concern with the voice of the students. We believe that the Student Government impeached Matt because they don’t like him. We believe they took such a drastic action without seeking the opinions of those they supposedly represent.” 

Hoffman’s calls were echoed by others such as Esther Ngemba ‘22, former Executive Vice President of JCU’s Student Government, criticizing the lack of diversity and transparency in Student Government 

“We want to know we have a government that represents the people,” Ngemba said. “Have a Student Government where you have a couple of senators where it is divided; where we have a senator from Boler, from the College of Arts and Sciences, from the Communication Department, from every college in the University so that they will have equal voices. If you look at Student Government right now, it’s not diverse.” 

In the face of these issues, Hoffman and three other student organization leaders came to the Student Government meeting to participate in an open forum where students could voice their opinions to their elected officials. 

“I would be surprised if there was a point in the history of John Carroll University where Student Government was less respected than it is now,” Hoffman said in an opening statement to the Student Government senate. “Outside of the few students that are actually involved, student attitudes towards Student Government are at best indifferent, and at worst complete disgust. You have created artificially high barriers of entry to your executive board and have denied normal students a chance to represent their school.”

The JCU Freedom Society later submitted five pieces of legislation that it hoped to have introduced to the Senate. Three of the pieces of legislation, Senate Resolutions (FR)01-F21, (FR)02-F2 and (A)01-F2, have to do with funds in Student Government. (FR)01-F21 calls for ease of access to the Student Government budget for student organizations. (FR)02-F2 proposes that the Student Government executive board should not be paid under the assumption that the board gets to determine their own salary. (A)01-F2 not only argues for transparency on the use of funding from SOBB and Student Government, but also on the functions of the organization entirely. 

The other piece of legislation suggested, Senate Resolution (ECB)0X-F21, aims to “create more opportunity for students to participate in Student Government and increase the promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion in Student Government.” Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Student Government, Teadora Tate ‘22, displayed her support for the bill saying that she was already proposing changes to benefit the diversity of the organization.

Debate on the floor stagnated after approximately 50 minutes of open forum. No conclusion was made on the bills but one piece of legislation, Senate Resolution (GB)0X-F21, was struck by the student government after it entered the floor.

“As a group, we simply want a new student governing body whose goal is to maximize the four-year experience at John Carroll,” Hoffman said. “They should utilize their power to build better student organizations rather than impeaching our president for trivial infractions. With this in mind, we expect the following from Administrators: Simply support your student body as this process continues. Let us determine the proper governing structure that best represents our voice and interests.” 

A representative of Student Government told The Carroll News that the body “applauds and encourages students-at-large to come forward with fresh ideas and perspectives to hold us accountable to their needs.” The further clarified, however, “Suggestions offered by Mr. Hoffman must be picked up and sponsored by individual senators. No senators from the 2021 term have introduced this legislation or the ideas behind it. We continue to be committed to having an open dialogue with students and are still in communication with Mr. Hoffman about his concerns.” 

With a new Student Government administration arriving next semester, it is yet to be seen whether the calls for diversity and change will meet the expectations of these student-critics.