Associated Students of the University of Utah is the U's student government. It has three branches — executive, legislative and judicial. (The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

This is a letter to the editor written by a student at the University of Utah. To submit a letter to the editor, email [email protected]

The Associated Students at the University of Utah are one of the lesser-known student organizations here on campus, which I do find odd, with it being the student government. I have given the past year of my life to making sure that that organization fulfills its purpose: to serve students. However, due to members of President Connor Morgan’s Executive Cabinet and President Morgan himself, it failed that in critical ways.

Personally, I served as the assembly parliamentarian for two semesters, as the campaign manager for the Barnes Ticket and as an executive branch board member of the Government Relations and Student Resources Board. I know where we failed and where we succeeded.

The executive branch of the government, I feel, has the most issues. The first and most critical failure of the Morgan Presidency was to allow a culture of favoritism and gossip to bloom within their ranks. On favoritism, there were numerous examples of myself and many others within the organization voicing serious complaints about the job performance of some of the directors managed by the Chief of Staff, and often we would see our complaints disregarded and even would be punished ourselves, because those individuals that we had a problem with were friends with the Chief of Staff. For example, I personally saw my fellow board members become disheartened and disenchanted with being involved and leaving because of the performance of a director, and when I voiced this critical problem to President Morgan, absolutely no action was taken and, in fact, myself and co-workers of mine were later reprimanded for voicing what we saw. I have also seen directors, because of their friendship with Chief of Staff [Lilly] Kanishka, be afforded numerous opportunities and second chances when they should not have and directors who did not have this affiliation saw immediate and just punishments for their actions and mistakes. I do not mean this to be a “hit” or anything of the sort. In fact, President Morgan and his chief of staff have always been quick to rightly criticize the actions of the Legislature, I just wish that they would’ve applied that same level of criticism to their own hires.

On the topic of criticism, I would like to explain a recent situation that crystalizes the outgoing administration’s attitude toward students voicing their opinions. There is a private meme group on Facebook called “Amazon Presents: UofU Edgy Memes for Salty Skis.” Shortly after the attempted impeachment of the VP of Student Relations, I decided to post a meme in the group that poked fun at the proceeding’s nature, and received a text from President Morgan, a call from an administration official affiliated with me academically, and I and the moderators of that group were blocked on all social media by the Chief of Staff. Personally, I feel that this reaction was brought on by the executive leadership taking a joke way too personally, and instead of admitting fault or at least letting a student’s opinion stand, they decided to attack myself and my friends personally. All this distills down into a toxic culture where students don’t feel like they have a place within the student government and those within are pressured into being silent and complicit, even when egregious abdications of duty are occurring.

Now, that was relentlessly negative, so let me expand upon the great things that members of the Morgan Administration did for students, chief among them registering thousands of voters to participate in the 2018 midterms, organized by the Government Relations Director, Michaela Lemen and her board. This was the quintessence of what the government should be doing: giving you the tools and ease of accessibility to have your voice heard in higher forms of government. I also think that the mental health initiative that was passed by the Legislature and Executive was a great step toward truly advocating for students and making sure that their needs are met and voices heard. Lastly, I think that the VP of University Relations, Maggie Gardner, and the rest of the directors excelled at their duties. I personally saw Vice President Gardner take and manage the entirety of Stress Buster week, and work in coordination with various university departments and involve our First Year Council, another massively successful board managed by Director Michelle Valdez, as volunteers. The executive has the power and capability to do amazing things for students and has done over the past year. However, where they have succeeded was not due to the leadership of President Morgan — it should be owed to the exemplary initiative shown by a group of ASUU executive officials to break through the toxic and limiting culture that President Morgan established and Chief of Staff Kanishka maintained.

— Greg Boisvert, ASUU Government Relations board member, ASUU Student Relations board member, former College of Engineering ASUU Assembly Representative

In an earlier version of this article, Greg Boisvert’s title within ASUU did not accurately reflect his current positions. We regret the error.

15 COMMENTS

  1. It’s important to note that this person is Not an Assembly Representative any longer (has not been for months) and is far from a content expert. This person, while very welcome to express his opinion, comes from a singularly biased position.

    • Chrony- you should note that you changed the author’s description. The author was previously listed as a current representative.

  2. It’s even more important to note that ASUU is a waste of our student fees, and does not need to be in existence. As students we could use a break on fees, give us that money back and let students deal with issues on their own. Plenty of politically and socially involved students will be involved and share their opinions with UofU administration et al. without the need of a title.

    Student offices at Universities seem to be nothing other than giving someone an extra line on a resume.

    But Greg, welcome to the business world & politics (aka the Real World)!!!

    Nepotism, Cronyism, Favoritism (and any other -isms you’d like to add!) exist everywhere and it takes magnanimous and committed individuals to not participate in that when they are given the opportunity to lead. None of us are shocked that the student body officers favor their friends, just like we aren’t shocked that student-athletes get overly pampered and showered with things so the school can have a trophy case (similar to the Roman Empire, leaders like to show triumphs); all the while the average student is footing the bill for unnecessary student officers & outrageous excess toward athletes.

    As for your memes, that’s just teenage behavior, “We should be too big to take offense, and too noble to give it.” -Abraham Lincoln

    It’s dissapointing to know how ineffective and drama filled the student officers “work” truly is….but again, not shocking; unfortunately none of these “-isms” are a surprise to any of us with basic knowledge of history and/or an education.

    Onward & Upward………….

  3. As of late, there have been a few articles circulating about the “Morgan Presidency” and the inability of Vice President Xandra Pryor to show up at meetings (surprise, students are occupied!). Perhaps, all of this melodramatic letter writing underscores a greater issue with ASUU: those with a fervent desire to master Robert’s Rules of Order are upset that their organization is so cosmically unimportant.

    Villifying Connor Morgan whilst nonchalantly plugging the achievements of your friends is a hilarious demonstration of the same tactless favoritism that consumes ASUU. Aside from redistributing student fees and orchestrating a few concerts/events, what does the organization accomplish?

    RE: Lighted walkways, which were promised three years ago, have yet to be established campus-wide. Yet, another student was assaulted in a dimly lit portion of campus only three days ago. Oh well, not like these blokes will ever read Jane Jacobs anyways.

    There is a tendency for individuals to confuse their importance to a broader community, and clearly, this is all-consuming within the siloed walls of a partially-dilapidated office. However, ASUU is so distinctly unimportant that it took “scandal” to make the Chronicle. Rather than continuing this tragic comedy, can the incoming president just acknowledge that ASUU was created to enhance resumes and impart values on their singularly-minded brand ambassadors?
    —-
    On an aside, I am at a loss for words over the quality of this letter. Whereas the Chronicle pays its own staff thousands of dollars to moderate and create content, it published an “article” from **former** Representative Greg (I’m sorry, who?). Assuredly this individual realizes that he is either an adult, or will be recognized as one eminently, and this pointless squabbling is utterly embarrassing. Rather than providing reasoned evidence, he complains about being blocked as if he is on a middle school softball team (cue Jesse Eisenberg circa 2013). Rather than gossiping and revealing that ASUU has malicious private group chats in which they tear down students who oppose their organization, just walk away.

  4. In 28 years as a faculty member, I’ve had the opportunity to observe many ASUU presidents in the performance of their duties. I’ve had multiple terms on the Academic Senate, and Senate Executive Committee. I used to serve as a member of the now defunct Joint Apportionment Board that worked closely with ASUU. In these roles, I’ve observed much of the work of at least 10 different ASUU presidents. In that time, I cannot remember seeing a president that was more dedicated to doing great work than Connor Morgan. In my opinion, he has done a great job serving students and making a difference to the entire university community. I express my appreciation to Connor for his outstanding work and wish him well as he moves forward in his career.

  5. An important thing to remember, especially in this case, there are always multiple sides to any story. While Greg may feel adamant that this is the truth, and some of it very well could be, it is from his perspective. As a previous member of ASUU during my entire undergraduate career at the U, I know the positive impact ASUU can have not only on their members but also on the student body. Personally knowing Connor Morgan and Lily Kanishka, I know that they care about what they are doing for our student body. I would stick my neck out a thousand times for both of them.

    Obviously it is important to remember that everyone is human and mistakes are made. Could things have been handled differently, sure. Part of the college experience is learning and growth. Expecting perfection from anyone is just setting yourself up for disappointment.

    Instead of writing an opinion piece and blasting ASUU and it’s members, it probably would have been more productive to say, “Hey Connor, Hey Lily, I see these things as being wrong or I feel this way, what can we do?” Let’s all learn to be adults, sit down and discuss our issues in person, figure them out, then walk away from it all. In the real world, if you plan on keeping your job and reputation, you can’t blast your employer because you got your feelings hurt. And if you feel that you can’t have that conversation for fear of retribution, involve a professional director to mediate. ASUU has paid, ADULT professional directors to oversee the students and make sure things are getting done.

    It’s unfortunate that the author had such a negative experience with ASUU. Hopefully in the future, things can change.

  6. While this piece is an opinion and is one-sided, it does highlight some of the shortcomings of what every organization will have: some form of favoritism, nepotism, and a shortcoming of checks and balances of power. ASUU is simply not a resume booster, it is an organization that has lots of dedicated people working tirelessly to help try to fulfill the student’s needs as much as they can. It is unfortunate that a few people within the organization are lacking and have not lived up to their responsibilities and expectations, and that in turn, can bring down a reputation of the whole organization. It is unfortunate these turn of events happened, but it exposed what needs to be fixed up at ASUU in order to better bridge the gap between them and the students.

    We can do better, as students at the U. We can participate more in student elections, we can contact our representatives to address campus issues, we can voice our concerns about current events at the U. The more we participate, the better. Increased student participation will lead to more checks and balances, as well as better oversight at what is happening. We are the people who ultimately decide who is on ASUU and who is not with the yearly elections.

  7. While the author of this letter would like us all to think that his meme was “just a joke”, it is very evident by his poor attempt to defend himself in this piece that his feelings are truly something more than “just a joke”. The author also didn’t clarify what he posted on the meme page. Here is that meme quoted “Impeach the b*tch”. It is clear now that this was directly referring to the VP of student affairs. Referring to a woman as a “b*tch” is certainly not a joke and should never be regarded as one and I am glad that Connor stood up for his VP and all women by letting the author know that it what he said was “horrible”, because it was.

    The author of this piece should issue an apology to the VP of Student Affairs for referring to her on a public forum in such a matter. Additionally, the moderators of the meme page should acknowledge that this was a personal attack and should remove the post along with a clarification and apology for what occurred. We should not be using meme pages as a personal grievance for our problems with certain individuals and this university and should actually take personal action to resolve these problems in the forums provided by ASUU, a forum that this author volunteered to leave.

    This is my fifth and final year at the University of Utah and I have never known an ASUU president more dedicated to serving the student body as Connor Morgan. Not only has Connor gone through incredible lengths to build a strong cabinet that has accomplished many things, but I have never seen him dismiss the views of a student or not try to empathize with the wider student body. He has always had a kind and open ear to those around him and is one of the humblest guys I know, despite being one of the most accomplished.

    • As a member of the Utah meme group, I completely agree with you. I understand that there are concerns over censorship, but I feel that censorship is different than asking someone not to call a woman a b*tch. To be fair, It is also important to note that Greg did eventually take down the meme and post a revised meme that referred to her as “an individual”. However, the group administration then went ahead and posted the sexist meme and defended it as a sign of free speech. Funny how a group administration of (from what seems to be primarily) a group of men wouldn’t understand how such a comment may affect a woman.
      Also note that the meme pages’s rules specifically say “No Personal Attacks” yet Greg’s post about the VP and the President both seem to personally call them out.

  8. How about letting students vote if we want our student fees paying for this nonsense?!?!

    Even if it puts $100 back in our pockets it’s well worth it….this is just sophomoric drama epitomized, please everyone from ASUU keep manifesting the pointlessness of your existence with more comments.

    How do we put this to a vote?

    I don’t want to vote for ASUU officers, I’d like a vote on disbanding this, please let me know how to do this as I’d like to get this up for vote to the student body (also please let me know how much in student fees all of this costs us).

      • I want that $23.12 back!!! 😉

        But I’ll probably stop my quest for a student body vote on dispanding ASUU/student body offices if that’s truly the amount.

        Can anyone work on privatizing sports withing colleges? Football can still be branded to any University without this charade of “student-athletes” & they can figure out ways to pay (with privatization title IX wouldn’t matter, because some sports can offer salaries that make money and others will be disbanded or find sponsors to fund just like Eccles with the Ski Team & that JetBlue executive did for Lacrosse), or offer scholarships to those that are truly interested in higher education.

  9. Pretty sure the author of this “letter” posted unsolicited memes on another office’s walls about his problems with that office instead of actually taking action and communicating with them about said problems.

  10. Having heard the occurrences first hand, it was to my understanding that Greg did in fact talk to Connor and his VP about what was going on, only to be turned down. There we’re other members of ASUU as well who all agreed that the VP wasn’t doing the job asked and was consistent in their errors, detailing it was more than just some sort of series of coincidences. The article is based on his thoughts and feelings, yes, but please remember this is NOT an article, it is a LETTER TO THE EDITOR. These letters can be biased as they are not intended to be read as a profession piece of literature.
    We are all college students and what exactly is the harm of a meme page in general? It’s not juvenile, it’s a stress reliever. No, the original post continuing to profanity should not have cleared moderators, though the use of Bi*ch was not meant as a sexist attack in any way, but please don’t think you need to read more into these things. It’s relieving stress and memes are based off pent up emotion, not some sort of alternative vendetta. Let’s all be adults here, not get our panties in a wad, and calm to actual heck down yeah?

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