Sentimental sendoff to the Tower administration in SGA Meeting

By Ashley Berger

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As the dust from the elections settles, the reign of Brandon Tower as president of the Student Government Association (SGA) comes to an end as well. In Wednesday’s SGA meeting, the SGA Senate bid farewell to the president and members of his cabinet.

Sen. Zach Broughton opened the meeting addressing some of the issues and projects that the Tower administration accomplished over the past year. Some of the highlights, Broughton said, were the implementation of the textbook swap, lowering the BASICs fine, the future paving of the trail between Orchard Hill and Sylvan, expansion of the rights of sexual violence victims and the strong stance against a fee increase.

The meeting, which was seemingly bittersweet overall, also invoked somewhat of a playful tone. Sens. Ellen Moorhouse and Dan Stratford sang an a cappella version of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” replacing “piano” with “Tower.”

And Tower, in his final address to the Senate, offered his gratitude to all of those who spoke well of him.

“I don’t know how to say thank you to all of you,” he said. “I couldn’t have done any of this without all of you guys. I owe you each so much.”

Tower began his speech by noting that moments in history serve as markers that discern the “before” and the “after,” and that usually people look to those large-scale incidents as momentous. But, Tower said, these events happen on a lesser scale too.

“Momentous occasions occur within individuals,” he said. “But that’s what’s so jarring about these momentous instances. While you as a person don’t change much, the world around you does.”

“On the eve of such a personal occasion, I find myself reflecting on my time at UMass and with the SGA,” he continued. “It’s occurred to me that the life I’ve lived in SGA has been a paradox, and that while serving as president my actions were so public while I personally have been so private.”

Tower explained his connection and affinity for the SGA and everyone involved. He expressed his gratitude for the students of UMass, his cabinet members, the senators and the advisor.

Tower ended his speech by wishing everyone the best of luck and said he is looking forward to a promising future. After he spoke, almost everyone in attendance of the meeting gave him a standing ovation.

Secretary of Outreach Andrew Prowten then seemingly attempted to out-do Tower in the artistry of his speech.

“Something that Brandon got me to do for the first time in my life was astonish myself,” he said. “We must make a future out of astonishing ourselves. We must keep moving forward.”

In keeping with the apparent light-heartedness of the evening, Secretary of University Policy Dave Robertson said, “I got a virus downloading Rebecca Black’s new album so I don’t have a speech, so (expletive redacted) it.”

While Robertson will not be returning to the SGA for his senior year, he advised the group to “keep fighting.” “Look to the Senate as a learning experience,” he said.

Lydia Washington, who advises the SGA, also took to the podium to bid adieu to Tower and other outgoing members.

“I love working with students who challenge me,” she said. “I appreciate your hard work and efforts. I am proud of you all and all of the great things that you have accomplished. I’m blessed and happy that I got the chance to work with you guys.”

Washington continued to read a quote that she felt was best suited for Tower.

“‘Leadership is a challenge to be something more than average,’” she recited, quoting the author Jim Rohn.

Following the meeting, Tower said, “It was overwhelming. To be able to share the moment with the rest of the cabinet, who are really like family to me, was an amazing experience.”

As Tower heads to Suffolk Law School in the fall, he made one final expression of his gratitude to the body.

“I’m going to miss most coming to the office and spending time with the people from SGA,” he said. “We talked a lot about how close we all became this year, and that’s not just rhetoric. It made every day exciting. I’m really going to miss that.”

Ashley Berger can be reached at [email protected]