Sullivan and Amazan sworn in as SGA president and VP amidst tensions

‘Leave the pettiness at home,’ Amazan said

By Jackson Cote, News Editor

University of Massachusetts Student Government Association President Timmy Sullivan and Vice President Nathalie Amazan, along with eight of their nominated cabinet members, were sworn into office on Monday amidst tensions after a cabinet member nominee was questioned in a manner that one official called “malicious.”

Both sophomores, Sullivan, a political science major, and Amazan, a political science and legal studies double major, were elected by the student body in February, winning 1,640 votes out of the 4,017 cast after running on a platform promoting college affordability, restorative justice and marginalized students’ rights.

“We certainly would not be standing here if it were not for the students that voted for our unique and transformative vision for this campus,” Amazan said shortly after her and Sullivan’s swearing-in. “Students spoke, and they spoke loud and clear that they wanted to see real change on this campus, and we’re not in the business of disappointing.”

Sullivan and Amazan, after their election, were tasked with interviewing candidates for their 10 cabinet positions. According to Sullivan, he and Amazan received a total of 40 applicants; they interviewed 28, accepted 10 and eight passed the mandatory review process conducted by the SGA’s own administrative affairs. Their nominee for chief of staff was rejected, and their nominee for secretary of public relations and external affairs rescinded their name.

Of the eight nominees — all of which were accepted by the senate to their positions — the newly appointed secretary of finance, Victoria Ishola, was the only one to receive any “nay” votes from senators during the movement to accept her nomination.

Ishola is a finance major, was the treasurer of both the Black Student Union and Black Mass Communication Project and served formerly as an SGA senator, working on the senate’s finance committee. Questions she was asked during the senate’s line of questioning ranged from how she would use her past experiences with finances working in the position of secretary of finance, to whether or not the student activities and trust fund should increase.

At one point, during a question asked by senator Alexandra McCandless, a political science major, Sullivan interjected to assist Ishola in answering the question. Sullivan stated that McCandless’ tone was condescending and warranted him answering part of her question.

“I think there were issues maybe with underlying tensions,” Sullivan said after the meeting. “We’re putting in our best foot forward.”

Shortly after the motion was passed to accept Ishola to the position, Amazan went up to podium to address the senate saying, “that was absolutely disgusting.”

“Leave the pettiness at home,” she added.

Gaëlle Rigaud, chair of the social justice and empowerment committee on the SGA, also took to the podium to address the senate, stating that much of the line of questioning was “malicious” and part of a negative history of the SGA senate.

Numerous SGA senators refused to comment on Ishola’s line of questioning.

“Overall, it could have been better,” Amazan said in a later statement. “I think it was a lot of disrespect coming from the senate.”

Amazan said she is looking forward to working with the senate in the future. She and Sullivan are currently in the process of filling their two empty cabinet positions with their back-up candidates; according to Amazan, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Jackson Cote can be reached at [email protected] and reached on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.