Op-ed: Transparency and inclusion will rebuild student trust in SGA


Illustration by Pete McKay

Chris Brown and Gabby Nobile may have won the election, but they have yet to win student trust.

I started to care about student government halfway through my sophomore year at Northeastern. I voted for Elliot Horen and Suchira Sharma when they ran uncontested for Student Government Association, or SGA, president and executive vice president respectively in 2016. It wasn’t until they introduced new initiatives to better include the student body, address student mental health concerns and improve campus sustainability that I started listening.

When Sharma and Paulina Ruiz ran for president and executive vice president respectively, I started believing. Their campaign was focused on equity issues, from UHCS to Title IX. It was refreshing to see student leadership recognize the unequal appropriation of resources.

For example, before my first co-op, my advisor explained to me that Northeastern’s connections for the College of Arts, Media and Design, or CAMD, were more limited than those in other colleges. Sharma and Ruiz were tireless in their commitment to improving student life during their term, and they brought in a team of diverse, experienced and thoughtful cabinet members to achieve this goal.

In many ways, the accomplishments of an administration aren’t actually what is most important: The relationship with the student body and the willingness to bring student ideas to the table is what is most impactful. It seems the administration of Nathan Hostert, Dylan Balcom and Jake Grondin lost track of that.

I only found out about Hostert stepping down as SGA president days after the fact. The new administration defended its decision to not announce Hostert’s resignation so as to respect his privacy. From the people I talked to, it appears the administration’s decision left a bad impression on campus, as it should have.

This entire year, SGA was quiet. They showed up at all the events that they normally do, but I saw fewer town hall meetings and less social media engagement. Since I arrived at Northeastern in 2015, I didn’t know when elections started until they had already been open for a week. Publicizing it didn’t seem like a priority to SGA. As someone who follows SGA’s social media accounts and has friends in the organization, last week’s elections were not effectively promoted.

After reading a platform that excluded any significant mention of diversity, inclusion and equity on our campus and containing policy proposals that could be detrimental for students like me, I voted no confidence this year. It’s not that I have a personal problem with Chris Brown and Gabby Nobile. I agree with many of their ideas, however, their platform didn’t reassure me that SGA would return to prioritizing openness and student collaboration — not only with student groups, but also with individuals historically excluded in student government.

That’s not to say they can’t improve now that they’ve been elected. I believe the recipe for success is pretty simple.

With SGA’s reputation faltering once again, transparency is key. The new administration must focus on updating the student body, especially on social media where updates and information are easily accessible to students.

Second, they must work “across the aisle.” Many of Brown and Nobile’s policy proposals focus on how to approach providing greater access to resources. While student access is crucial, it could be a detriment to some, especially where resources are limited. For example, there is not a single building on campus designated only for CAMD, as Ryder Hall is shared with the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, leaving five computer labs spread across three buildings. It’s important to talk to students with concerns and find a compromise.

Last, our representatives should be accessible. They need to engage in public conversations where students can talk with leaders in person. Many different people can be great leaders, but it comes down to execution.

Although I’m graduating, I hope Brown and Nobile will focus on transparency and inclusion so SGA can better serve its students once again.


Jasmine Heyward is a fourth-year journalism major.