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SGA seemingly divided after the resignations of Hillary Shah and Hanlyn Tyler

SGA seemingly divided after the resignations of Hillary Shah and Hanlyn Tyler

SGA seemingly divided after the resignations of Hillary Shah and Hanlyn Tyler
December 18
19:14 2019

Following the resignations of former Vice President Hillary Shah and former Chief of Staff Hanlyn Tyler, two narratives are coming out of SGA — the first being that Shah and Tyler were not fit for their jobs and their accounts of things that happened during their time are not true and the second being that President Yolian Ogbu and SGA Communications Director Noah Hutchinson are lying about what really happened between Tyler and Shah.

“Yolian has openly lied about the situations surrounding both the previous Chief of Staff as well as the Vice President,” a current SGA Supreme Court justice, who wishes to remain anonymous as they still work in the administration, said. “Furthermore, Noah Hutchinson openly lied when stating that the list mentioned by Chief of Staff Hanlyn Tyler only held professional grievances when in fact it was both personal and professional grievances shared within a document to the executive members, involving profanity and personal vendettas.”

Hillary Shah resigned last Thursday, alleging that she faced “consistent dismissal, and belittlement.”

In response to her resignation, members of SGA’s executive board said they were “shocked.”

“We’ve had conversations with her this week about how we’re moving forward as far as her resignation,” Hutchinson said to the Daily Dec. 6. “They’re rather professional, rather civil. We were all in the loop and so we expected more from her as part of this administration. It was our expectation that we would move forward with a much smoother transition and so ultimately I think it was disappointing and shocking to see the response that she decided to make public.”

Following Shah’s resignation, Deana Ayers was announced as the next vice president, pending Senate approval. Ayers served as the Governmental Affairs Director and Chair of the City and State Relations Committee this semester.

“I’m beyond excited [for] what SGA will be doing in the next semester,” Ayers said. “I think everyone has had a chance to set their goals for the spring and we’ll hit the ground running in January stronger than ever.”

When asked if she is concerned about the culture and perception of SGA, Ayers said she thinks, “the attitudes surrounding the events, rather than the events themselves, make me worry that people will make assumptions about what SGA does and does not stand for.”

“I think everyone in the organization knows that we’re working hard every day to improve the campus,” Ayers said. “We’re striving to make sure every student feels included in the work we’re doing.”

Members of SGA who spoke to the Daily, some on the condition of anonymity, paint two different pictures of what happened in regards to the events prior to and following Shah’s resignation.

“I think her resignation was completely unprofessional and a wildly inaccurate depiction of the executive board,” a current SGA senator said. “Exec was always extremely helpful and would take time out of their day to meet with Senators and Interns and provided guidance to them. Yolian especially. I felt so comfortable being around the members of exec and they promoted a great workplace environment. It feels like a family sometimes.”

The SGA senator went on to say that Shah’s resignation was “unnecessarily destructive.”

“[It] served purely to destroy the image of the organization that we’ve worked hard to create,” they said. “We strive to be the most inclusive and supportive and we will let our policies and initiatives speak for themselves.”

When asked if they think SGA is divided, the SGA senator said no. 

“I believe that the majority of senators recognize that this is a smear campaign dedicated to delegitimize the work that this administration has done,” they said. 

But not everyone in SGA feels that way. 

The current SGA Supreme Court Justice who spoke to the Daily said the “only individuals to speak out on this are all previously concerned with advancing their own self-interest and not telling the truth with what actually goes on within the office.”

“Though Yolian will say she has an open and transparent administration she’s much more concerned with covering her mistakes and telling blatant lies to keep the student body from realizing her lack of experience and progress by blaming and bullying others until they leave,” the justice said. “She has zero concern for her staff’s feelings and the only reason they’re more united than ever because all of them left were the ones bullying Hillary and Hanlyn. The other executive members are just as much to blame as Yolian due to the fact that all stayed silent and even participated in the treatment of these two individuals.”

Angie Whistler, an SGA senator for the Honors College, echoes the justice’s sentiment. 

“They dismissed their guilt, diminished the claims and are spreading outright lies about their actions to scramble any semblance of character they have left,” Whistler said about the SGA executive board’s statements following Shah’s resignation. “Their comments were confusing, contradictory and truly immature. Instead of even considering the plausibility of an error on their part, they instantly went on attack mode and started to gaslight the entire situation.”

Despite how she feels, Whistler said she intends to stay in SGA as she still has work to do and promises to keep. 

“I joined SGA to make a more inclusive and empowered student body, and just because it seems like the remaining executive members have lost that priority doesn’t mean I have,” Whistler said. “If anything, this situation has hardened my desire to be here, both as a mentor and a senator.”

Whistler did say she was concerned about both the culture and perception of SGA. 

“I think we’ve created a toxic environment for mental health in this organization and instead of addressing that, the executive team just further cemented the gag order on all health concerns,” Whistler said. “It’s prevalent that your worth is contingent on your output alone, yet you don’t know what that output is judged by. But now, the community, not just the student body, knows.”

Whistler said, “the facade is off.”

“We’re going to have [to] work tirelessly to change both internally and externally the very foundation of SGA, and that’s precisely why I’m staying,” she said. “I believe in this organization still. I believe we can get better, but I also believe that it’s going to take more effort than we’ll get because they’ve drawn the division and are just waiting for people to go.”

A few senators are considering leaving SGA due to the toxicity of the situation, according to Whistler.

“For years SGA has been burdened with this kind of immaturity and, honestly, letting power get to people’s heads, and while I thought this admin was going to be different, that repatriation has only snowballed,” she said. “If we don’t stop it now, then all SGA will ever be known for is inhumanity, isolation, and immaturity.”

Whistler went on to say that she does not believe SGA is united.

“I think [SGA Exec’s] response to this matter has only deepened that divide and the disappointment felt by many of us regarding their treatment of humans in this organization,” she said. “We’ve tried since the beginning of this year to avoid cliques, especially in Senate after what happened last year, yet the remaining administration planted those seeds of separation and now they’ve grown. I don’t know what it’s going to take to actually unify SGA, but I sure as hell know it’s not victim-blaming or further dismissal.”

Jennifer Moyers, a senator for the College of Health and Public Service, is standing behind Shah and Tyler’s decision to preserve their personal health and wellbeing.

“I keep my own personal conviction of maintaining personal integrity and keeping a strict work/life boundary,” Moyers said. “From this personal perspective, I think it is very healthy for the staff to recognize their needs and act on them accordingly. In my perspective, we are people first before filling these additional roles.”

Moyers also said she does intend on staying in SGA next semester and that she is concerned with the culture and perception of SGA. 

“But I have felt this way prior to these events,” Moyers said. “Last semester a constituent expressed concern with their perception that SGA was just a line on a resume for those involved. If we are to be public servants then our only job, really, should be to listen to the people that we work for and represent. To hear that someone we work for feels this way is very disappointing and should motivate us to do better.”

When asked if she thought SGA was divided, Moyers said she thinks it is “important to remember that these are jobs that the elected individuals likely take a lot of pride in, as they should.”

“I think it is natural for any person to want to protect the integrity of an identity that they take pride in,” Moyers said. “These responses are to be expected so soon after the event.”

She also said that while running for office, she had the “perception that UNT SGA was this functioning group of individuals who sat down and brainstormed good work together.”

“I did not realize that there was even an executive board that I, as a senator, would be divided from; perhaps my own fault for not doing better preliminary research,” Moyers said. “I did attempt to reach out to a couple of executive members with ideas that we wanted to pursue and was basically told to wait until the person in the executive position did it for me. This was very frustrating as I was trying to communicate that I was willing to help this person do their work because it was something that I needed done to advance the work that I was trying to accomplish.”

Moyers said, “this reaches back to the notion that I believe we are all people before fulfilling these roles.”

“So I personally feel that when a senator expresses they want to do work, I would expect that the executive board be relieved that one of us would want to take some work off of their shoulders for everyone’s benefit,” she said. “It appears that the sense of pride discussed earlier got in the way of our greater good.”

Moyers said she felt “complacent in my work prior to this issue because I did not feel welcome to create a working relationship with the executive board members.”

“After being met with what I perceived as [a] lack of enthusiasm for partnership I tried to see the big picture and it ultimately looked like the people in these roles were proud of their positions and maybe did not want to admit that they, too, need help,” she said. “At the time this was an assumption of mine and I did not want to step on any toes so I just turned the other way and decided to be patient with the outcome of the semester. The current issue appears to confirm this earlier assumption. I am now motivated to just put my head down and do the work that I know I need to do. I acknowledge and celebrate the pride and passion of everyone involved, and feel that I should just seek the same.”

Moyers stressed that people should remember members of SGA “are people first and we are all likely just trying to do our best.”

“We have roles and identities outside of SGA that inform our work,” she said. “And so we must celebrate and nurture these before throwing it all on the line for this single position.”

Featured Image: SGA senators listen to reports from committee chairs aduring their meeting on Oct. 10, 2019. Image by Carter Mize

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Lizzy Spangler

Lizzy Spangler

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1 Comment

  1. Dr. Jim McHugh
    Dr. Jim McHugh December 27, 17:19

    Your SGA, just like SGAs from the past, miss the point. You do nothing against your Administration and do not seem concerned with anything. Good for you, just serve your sentence.

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