Aoun speaks to SGA senate about leadership


Kaitlyn Budion

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun spoke to the Student Government Association (SGA) about leadership and community at its senate meeting Monday.

During his address in the Curry Student Center, Aoun wished luck to both the Suchira + Paulina and ReNUal campaigns for SGA student body president and executive vice president, voting for which closed Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, Suchira Sharma and Paulina Ruiz were announced as student body president and executive vice president.

At the meeting, Aoun said he hopes the elections reflect the values of SGA.

“If you can shake the hand of the person who is opposing you, if you can talk to her, if you can laugh with her, I think you have achieved a purpose,” Aoun said.

Sharma, a junior business administration major, said she found Aoun’s comment about being able to laugh with your opponents comical, as Aoun had chatted with both her and Bender earlier in the meeting and she saw it as more of a joking comment. However, she wasn’t sure if it was necessarily directed at the candidates.

“I find it hard to read Aoun, but this election has involved and excited the student body,” Sharma said.

Alex Bender, SGA vice president of student affairs who ran against Sharma for SGA president, said he didn’t think the comment was directed at the two slates at all. He said he thought the use of feminine pronouns was a coincidence. However, Bender said he appreciated Aoun’s address to SGA.

“I’ve heard similar presentations, but it’s a good effort from Aoun,” said Bender, a sophomore industrial engineering major.

Aoun also spoke about how to tell if someone has succeeded as a leader.

“For me, the mark of leadership is if you are going to be able to attract people to replace you, who are like you,” Aoun said.

Aoun continued to discuss the role of universities in making sure students are prepared for a rapidly changing world and job market.

“Our goal is to provide you with a robot-proof life,” Aoun said. “So you don’t become obsolete.”

He said that the way to avoid that was to focus on the human component and the skills that cannot be automatized, and that student groups like SGA help achieve this.

“Hone your skills that are uniquely human,” Aoun said. “There is no SGA for robots.”

After he spoke, Aoun answered questions from SGA senators. One student asked Aoun about combining the vision to expand the collaboration that is emphasised on the Boston campus to the international Northeastern community.

“The cohesiveness is really built by the human factor,” Aoun said. “We are going to build this together. When I see students in Hong Kong or Cape Town, or wherever they are, what are you doing? Reaffirming the community. So it’s up to all of us to nurture it and make it happen.”

Sharma asked Aoun what Northeastern’s No. 1 focus should be right now. Aoun replied that the university’s primary goal is always community building.

“We live now in a society that is politically polarized,” Aoun said. “It is an opportunity for us to reaffirm that people may be diverse but can come together as human beings.”