Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 14, 2021

Letter to the Editor 03/09/21

By SAM MOLLIN | March 10, 2021

In response to “Why I quit SGA and why you should care” published on March 9, 2021:

I appreciate Julia Zeng’s thoughts but would like to respond to the misrepresentations in her piece. This isn’t just a matter of who is right and who is wrong; perceptions of SGA have a major effect on what we are able to do for our student body.

It is not true that we lack guiding documents. Aside from our constitution, bylaws, rules bill, and other documents, class presidents and committee chairs are required to submit transition documents for their replacements. We lacked a Committee on Student Organizations (CSO) transition document, but that is due to last year’s SGA not procuring the document from the previous CSO chair. This year, we ensured every chair and president created interim transition documents over Intersession.

It is false that we lack standards of teamwork and leadership. I agree that there’s always room for improvement, and this year we have communicated standards during our fall retreat and special leadership refresher during Intersession. We are creating standardized leadership trainings to be run by the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement every year for new class presidents and committee chairs to ensure consistent leadership training for incoming senators.

Zeng’s statement that we rely solely on the volunteering of public input is incorrect. We sent 19 emails this semester to the student body, the majority of which actively solicited feedback. We held a special public input GBM, ran Q&A/input gathering sessions on Instagram Live and published a feedback form on our website. We implemented our compensated special public input period this semester and have had four successful sessions already. We ensured everyone was aware of this program by sending out a schoolwide email, and encourage you to participate in future sessions. Now that outdoor restrictions have loosened, we plan on tabling in-person. 

Zeng cites no evidence that members engage in ad hominem attacks on legislation. I encourage you to watch all of our GBM recordings to verify for yourself whether her claim is valid. 

Although two people left in the middle of their terms this year, one senator had an unavoidable academic conflict. Only Zeng’s leave was for other reasons. Reasons that a senator chooses to forgo running for another term vary and are usually due to external factors like study abroad or graduating early. SGA is a big commitment, and it is normal to have other priorities during different stages of one’s academic career. We cannot change the past but are proud of what we have done to support senators this year, including mandatory one-on-one support sessions over break and conflict resolution training. 

I agree that you should vote in upcoming elections, run if interested and hold your representatives accountable. But Zeng’s arguments were based on misrepresentations of our work this year, and it is important to ensure understanding of the full picture. I encourage you to reach out to all your representatives, and not just those that Zeng chose, by clicking here to navigate to each class council page or emailing sga@jhu.edu.

If you are interested in running for SGA or want to learn more, feel free to reach out to me at smollin1@jhu.edu

Sincerely,

Sam Mollin

SGA Executive President

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