Op-Ed: SGA Speaker Tyack Voices Frustration Regarding Commencement

Brian Dunleavy

Tyler Tyack

My name is Tyler Tyack, and I am the Speaker of the Armstrong and Liberty Campus Student Government Senate (SGA). I have served for three years in the Senate, and this is the first year that our two senate system have been in action.

First off, I would like to emphasize that this piece is in no way an official communication  from the Armstrong/Liberty Campus (ALC) SGA. These thoughts and opinions are my own, and do not necessarilyreflect those of the members ofthe ALC SGA or its advisers.

In recent weeks, we have seen the phrase “new Georgia Southern”, which had been used to describe the new commencement process that the University has decided to implement. With five months warning, this decision has caught current students, their families, and alumni off guard.

The University claims that they solicited student input in their decision making process by asking the ALC SGA Executive Board their thoughts on the then potential changes.

This meeting was held on Aug. 18, 2018, in a closed door Cabinet meeting. I must note, however, that all Cabinet meetings are closed door due to sensitive information that is discussed by the Cabinet.

In this meeting, the Armstrong and Liberty Campus’ Executive Board unanimously disagreed with the proposed changes. We were told that our thoughts would be relayed to the committee in charge of the commencement changes.

In the following four months after this meeting, we received no new information on the commencement changes.

On Jan. 16, 2019, we received word that the commencement changes that had been proposed to us would in fact be going through effective for the upcoming spring. That afternoon, I called a special senate meeting for the following Wednesday, Jan. 18, as Monday was Martin Luther King Day. Over the weekend, I worked on Senate Resolution Seven (SR7), which calls for the immediate reversal of the commencement changes.

This resolution passed the Armstrong and Liberty Campus Senate unanimously, and that same evening, I drove up to the Statesboro Campus Senate meeting and read the resolution aloud, word for word. The response from the overcrowded gallery of students was applause. I asked the Statesboro senate to vote on SR7 that night, but they had a 72-hour wait period for voting on new pieces of legislation.

In the four weeks following, I attended every one of Statesboro’s senate meetings.

I received an email on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 that SR7 would be coming to the floor on Feb. 20, 2019.

I went into that meeting excited, emboldened and overjoyed that for once. I felt that after this bitter consolidation process, the three campuses would finally be united on something. Together, all Georgia Southern students would be saying NO to the administration.

Until we didn’t. Until only one senator from Statesboro voted to approve of the resolution. I have had legislation with my name on it fail before, but never this badly. SR7 had been completely sunk on the senate floor.

When Nathan Weaver asked me just five minutes after the vote how I felt, I could only say “disappointed.” I was confused, shocked and horrified that the body of students elected to represent their peers had gone clear against what the student body wanted.

Georgia Southern students are listening, they are watching, and they are angry. The SGA is by students, for students, and I can understand the frustration when the system fails.

I told Mr. Weaver that I would continue to fight for the reversal of the commencement changes. I will continue to fight for all three campuses of Georgia Southern. We are one university, with three distinct campuses, none more important than the others.

We, members of the Armstrong and Liberty Campus Senate, have taken the oath of office, in which we are sworn to be an advocate for students. It does not limit us to one campus, and I will not limit myself.

To any students on any campus who have issues, complaints, or just need to vent, my email is SGA-Armspeaker@georgiasouthern.edu.

I am here for you, we are here for you, and we would love to hear from you.