Letter to the Editor: SGA needs to earn back the student’s trust

As a Northeastern alumnus and former member of the Northeastern Student Government Association (SGA) executive board, I am disappointed in the recent actions taken by President Rogan O’Handley and George Gottschalk IV.

My disappointments lie in the childish behavior of Gottschalk, which has placed the organization in a compromising position yet again. The fact that he lied to the Senate to cover up his sanctions was a mistake that may have jeopardized much-needed trust from the student body. I am also further disappointed in O’Handley, who has been elected and entrusted with the direction of the organization. O’Handley has allowed the SGA to be lead into a dark corner: distrusted by the student body

Last year the organization found itself in a similar situation when the president and vice president had to resign due to Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR) sanctions. The E-board that I was a member of last year decided the student body and Senate had a right to know the truth about the situations. Every decision was made with integrity and transparency. This year, O’Handley and Gottschalk have decided to ignore the lessons of the past.

In my last days in office I was aware of the actions taken by Gottschalk. His actions were certainly childish and unbecoming of a vice president of the student body. I, as well as then-Vice President for Student Services O’Handley, was aware of the police report filed against Gottschalk and the OSCCR sanctions that might follow. Anyone with sense would know that when a Northeastern Police Department report is filed, OSCCR charges are soon to follow.

As O’Handley took office, he knew this situation might become a reality. When it did, his best solution was to allow Gottschalk to lie, aiding the SGA cover-up.

I am not as disappointed that yet another SGA vice president has resigned as I am that the student body was lied to. Former presidents Andres Vargas, Michael Benson and former Executive Vice President for Student Affairs Chad Cooper did not lie to the Senate. The respect they had for the students of Northeastern and student government superseded their own interests.

As the SGA prepares for its first direct election, in which the student body will pick its own president, the SGA must gain back some of the trust this scandal has compromised.

To all the new senators and those who have returned, remember this for the year ahead: You are role models to the university community. You are held to high standards. When you make a mistake you are scrutinized more than your classmates. These are the lessons I have learned. Finally, make decisions, stand by them, and never compromise your personal integrity. At the end of the day if you haven’t compromised integrity you are a good person, and in the real world, that counts.

– Billy Haddad is a former SGA Vice President for Financial Affairs and a Northeastern Alumnus.

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