The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



Got an idea? A concern? A problem? Let The Huntington News know:

Op-ed: The best way to save SGA is to leave it

Angelica Jorio

For the past four years, I have had the distinct and weird experience of having served on both The News’ editorial board as design editor and the Student Government Association’s, or SGA’s, executive board as student body president. This has given me the unique perspective of hearing from some of SGA’s biggest critics while being its biggest cheerleader.

I have never done this before and will probably never again, but with the new SGA president and executive vice president having been announced March 25, I wanted to share my thoughts on two of the biggest criticisms faced by SGA.  

SGA doesn’t do anything…

The No. 1 question I get when I tell Northeastern students I was student body president is: What does SGA actually do? Totally fair question. SGA doesn’t exactly do a good job in letting students know what it does, especially since the majority of advocacy done in the organization doesn’t happen in Senate, as most believe, but in its committees instead.  

Senate is the more formal body of SGA, and I think it is the main branch students think of when referring to SGA. Speaking frankly, it is also the most broken branch. It is in a state of perpetual limbo due to its Congress-like rules that should guide procedures but instead hinder its progress. Student body representation in Senate, both in terms of students demographics and fields of study, has also always been an issue. And no matter how hard leadership tries to recruit, it is never enough. I don’t blame people for not wanting to join or leaving after a year. Ask anyone who has been in Senate for a semester or more, and they will have some sort of nightmare story to tell from a meeting. Mine was the internal election Senate in spring 2022, where the meeting lasted almost eight hours, and I got home at 3 a.m. All these problems make Senate ineffective in dealing with students’ issues.  

On the other hand, I got involved with SGA by joining committees, and it’s where many people find their passion for advocacy in the Association. They are its heart and soul. SGA’s eight committees, which range from Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Sustainability to Global Experience and Academic Affairs, are where the advocacy really happens.  

The various committees created Wellness Days, implemented TRACE, and established the Dining Advisory Board and the Campus Planning Advisory Board that provide direct feedback to university administrators. There might be important legislation that is passed in Senate, but the nitty-gritty work and countless hours spent advocating with administrators is done by committees.  

SGA does do good things, but it is just exceptionally bad at communicating them to the student body. And Senate can be the best of times or the worst of times.  

SGA is cliquey and insular…

Yes. 100%. Could not agree more. This is one of the main reasons I ran for student body president in 2022. I was the first non-executive board member ever elected to the presidency, and my running mate, Sebastian Chávez Da Silva, and I ran in the first contested election since 2017. In a recent WRBB x Huntington News podcast episode, a host asked how common uncontested elections are.  

Before fall 2023, when legislation was passed removing prior SGA experience from presidential requirements, a lot of potential slates weren’t able to run. It was hard to find two people who had been in Senate long enough to satisfy the requirements. To find four and have at least two slates? Forget it. Thankfully, it is now a lot easier because of the changes that have been made.  

SGA’s biggest problem, however, is that it is an insular institution. Many still believe that to be successful in the role, you have to be an “insider.” That is somewhat true: There are many advantages to knowing and gaming the system. Speaking from personal experience, it is so much easier to run for an SGA position once you know how the system works — not just know the position, but how to navigate SGA as a whole. When I ran for president, I had been involved with committees for two years, but I had only been a senator for a semester. And let me tell you, it was a massive adjustment, in large part because of the strange and strict Robert’s Rules of Order the Association follows.  

The issue with being an insider and being comfortable with myriad rules — some good and some meh — is that most people don’t do anything else. They go on to represent the student body with out substantial experience being part of more than one or two clubs.  

I love how committed people are to SGA. Students are the backbone of the Association. However, to effectively serve as the voice of the student body to administration, one has to be in the student body — not just SGA.  

I do not claim to have been a perfect president, and there are many things that I could have done better. Being new to SGA leadership while having been heavily involved with five other organizations prior to my presidency afforded me the perspective that SGA wasn’t everything. 

Our perspectives in leadership, Senate and committees weren’t everything. We had to do outreach and be in constant conversations with different student organizations and the student body because, ultimately, they are our highest priority. 

I do think SGA can be an instrument for good on this campus, and it has been, but it’s not perfect. In so many instances, the Association is wrapped up itself, set in its ways and even new solutions bring up the same problems. 

I hope to see many more contested elections down the line — tough, close elections where students get to vote on who really has the best vision for Northeastern’s future and the fight to make it happen. 

My last bit of advice:  

If you have never been involved in SGA, join it. Advocate for what you believe in; make some noise. You are the most powerful advocate for your fellow students.  

And if you have been in SGA for a while, leave it. Join clubs. Be a part of the student body you hope to represent. 

Angelica Jorio is a fourth-year political science and economics combined major, former student body president and design editor of The News. She can be reached at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Angelica Jorio
Angelica Jorio, Design Editor
Angelica Jorio is a fourth-year political science and economics major and design editor of The News. This is her third time being design editor after a year hiatus while she was student body president. If not designing or frantically responding to slacks, Angelica can be found hunting down the best cappuccino in Boston!
More to Discover