Last year, Baruch College’s Undergraduate Student Government saw eight resignations from the senate table due to reasons stemming from communication issues. This semester, the resignations have continued, with the latest being a University Student Senate delegate stepping down in October and a USG senator stepping down in November.
USS delegate Jasper Diaz ran for re-election with Project Now and won after having a track record of public service to CUNY students. He stepped down before the fall semester and was the only one who did so due to personal issues. USS Alternate Delegate Razieh Arabi took over Diaz’s role.
In an interview with The Ticker, Arabi disclosed that she worked with Diaz for the past two years as a unit on common goals and when he stepped down, “It was kind of a natural stand for me to come and run for delegate,” she said.
USS Delegate Liam Giordano resigned from his position near the end of October.
In an email he forwarded to The Ticker, he included a resignation letter expressing that his reason for stepping down was due to the unprofessional “behavior exhibited by members of the USG,” which “has impacted [his] mental health and had begun to negatively impact [his] studies and personal life.”
Arabi commented on Giordano stepping down saying, “It was hard, but I did respect his decision because I know what he experienced and went through, which I can say in an equal part I was going through the same as well, but my tie with my group outside of here made me stay focused.”
Giordano has been an active member of USG. Last spring semester, Giordano was elected to the table with just two weeks remaining in the semester and proposed the Student Art Program initiative, which intended to place student-created artwork throughout Baruch, accomplishing this by hosting a contest for students to submit their artwork. Giordano also served as a co-chair on the Constitutional Review Committee for USG.
Earlier this semester, Giordano was working on passing a proposal to name the 23rd Street No. 6 train station after Baruch College, for which he needed signatures from 10 percent of the student population.
“I had sent out official correspondence regarding our first meeting in USS where I had basically, in a whole page, detailed everything that happened, what USG needs to know,” Giordano said, regarding the project. “Maybe a week later I was getting questions from people about really basic things that were answered in my email, and it kind of went to show that they never even read the email or cared and that was the kind of like the beginnings of where I felt uncomfortable in my position.”
USG President Radhika Kalani said that when Giordano proposed the project to the senate, “It was the first memorandum they saw and they didn’t really understand what was being asked of them.”
She continued to say, “I actually found out about the memo 2-3 hours before the senate meeting that day and I didn’t have time to look at it.”
In response to Giordano stepping down, Kalani said, “I did speak to him prior. I thought things were okay; he even talked to OSL before but he was also dealing with a lot of personal things and the miscommunication thing was what threw it off the edge.”
When asked about this, Giordano said he does not recall Kalani reaching out to him.
As of now, Giordano has no idea where the project is standing. When he passed it in USS, “All of a sudden USG became interested again and wanted their name on it, so I gave them the opportunity. I came back, spoke to the table again and at that meeting I was laughed at, which was confirmed by a member of USG later on, in front of OSL,” Giordano stated.
Director of Student Life Damali Smith declined to comment on the matter, as resignations happen every year within USG for various reasons, she explained.
“I spoke to Damali after the meeting, that this was an incredible display of unprofessionalism and she kind of nodded her head at me, like, ‘We should talk,’” Giordano stated.
They spoke a few days after the meeting and she urged him to stay, saying he doesn’t have to have an “intandem [sic] relationship with USG” and “can just kind of do [his] own thing at USS but that’s not something [he] was looking to do because there’s so much that could be done in this community, in the city and the state that USG and USS can perform together.”
The problem then came down to a lack of communication between USG and USS, as Baruch is the only CUNY college in which the USS delegates and alternatives are not part of USG.
“That’s a huge problem,” Arabi explained, because “there are so many discrepancies in between the different groups.”
“If we want to bridge that gap, either we have to find a way to include the delegates and alternatives, or reconvene at all meetings that USG has and find a way to be more cohesive,” Arabi said.
An in-house election was held to replace Giordano on Nov. 20.
“The election itself was just a mess because we were finding out so much new information, like this was the first time we held elections for USS and we realized two of the applicants were freshmen and the other was a transfer student and none of them had a Baruch GPA,” Kalani said.
Only students who won the campus-wide elections and are on the USG senate table can run for USS.
USG was unaware of these prerequisites before the elections and had to table it to the following week in order to review the USG and USS constitutions.
Then Vice President of Legislative Affairs and USS Alternate Delegate Mark Vilk stepped down from USG during that tabled meeting.
“Mark was pretty distant throughout the whole semester. There were a few legislative initiatives and he relied a lot on Jasper and was close to Liam sort of; they had a good relationship but he then felt everyone in the legislative realm was leaving, and Mark felt like he lost that support system,” Kalani said.
In response to the statements about Vilk, Giordano said, “I don’t know how much I agree. In reference to me being a support system for Mark, I can say that Mark’s participation in the project for the 6-train wasn’t to where I would say we were working together as partners. I don’t know what he was going through or where his mind was but I didn’t feel like, as if I was acting as a support system for Mark and vice versa.”
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