Written By: Whittaker Miller
On August 30th, Derrick Burnette ‘22 announced his resignation as President of Goucher Student Government (GSG), close on the heels of the informal and less publicized resignation of President Yuchen Ding ‘22 earlier in the year. While GSG was inactive for much of 2020 and 2021 amid the Covid-19 pandemic to undergo a period of internal restructuring, the announcement sparked confusion over who would lead GSG moving forward. Senior Ty’lor Schnella ‘22, a former GSG senator, was announced as interim President of a newly-formed Student Government Association (SGA) until fall semester elections could be held. The Quindecim conducted the following interview with Schnella over email which has been edited for grammatical errors and clarity. All answers and opinions shared by the interviewees are their own.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am from Baltimore City, Maryland and I went to the second oldest public high school in the country, Baltimore City College High School. I love to play Call of Duty, celebrate Thirsty Thursdays, and create opportunities for my peers. I am a former Legislative Affairs Aide to [former] Baltimore City Council President, now current Mayor, Brandon Scott, and served on his Fiscal Preparedness Transition Committee.
What is your vision for GSG? In terms of the upcoming year and for the future. How can you use this role to better Goucher?
I envision a student government that is equitable, professional, accountable, organized, and transparent. Past GSG Presidents have not taken the role seriously, which has led to decreased student engagement, lack of institutional trust, and a lesser standing amongst other student governments. I am committed to creating a student government infrastructure through which student leaders can maximize their positions to serve our peers. I have entered the GSG into a diplomatic partnership with the Towson University SGA. This partnership will allow for the sharing of ideas and increased programming amongst our institutions. We are too close to Towson not to have some form of relationship with them. This speaks to my commitment to professionalize our student government by forming partnerships with successful student government organizations. Also, here are my areas of focus:
- Increasing Enrollment and Retention Rate of Marginalized Students, especially students of color (with an emphasis on Black males).
- Establishing comprehensive resources for low-income students seeking internships and employment opportunities.
- Removing systemic barriers that prevent marginalized students from succeeding at the University.
- Increasing support of the LGBTQ+ and Non-Binary communities while providing opportunities for sexual identity awareness and gender-inclusive practices across campus.
- Expanding Counseling Center service offerings to include more longitudinal and long-term care options, especially during the summer.
- Working to better incorporate student voices into decision-making centering around Campus Health and eliminate economic barriers for students seeking wrap-around health services.
- Positioning Student Government to have more direct involvement in helping students meet their basic needs and rising costs affiliated with attending Goucher.
- Reforming academic attendance policies to include more inclusive practices centering around wellness and emotional health.
- Developing and implementing non-partisan ideas and initiatives to promote student’s political involvement and engagement in local civic engagement.
- Providing more direct opportunities for students to engage in civil discourse, activism, and community service at Goucher and the surrounding communities.
- Engaging in coalition building across the Goucher Community with sustainability and environmental groups to unite to keep accountability in sustainability – for the health and longevity of our communities.
- Creating, maintaining, and utilizing relationships with other student governments to foster opportunities for Goucher students at other institutions.
How do you see your relationship with Kent? With students?
I have a good working relationship with President Devereaux; however, there is certainly space for improvement. I believe that the college President and the Student Government President should have a direct relationship. There is an old saying “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Well, I’ll talk to Peter to talk to Paul. I meet weekly with Dr. Aarika Camp (VP Student Affairs & Dean of Students) to discuss student issues, events, and GSG activities. I am assuming that President Devereaux is updated by Dr. Camp on GSG during cabinet meetings. At the beginning of my tenure as President I certainly tried to set up bi-weekly meetings with President Devereaux, which got shot down.
How do you balance schoolwork and president duties?
I love being in this role! Having the opportunity to serve my peers each day is a blessing in and of itself. However, the role also demands a lot of time and energy. I have had issues balancing GSG and schoolwork much like any other student that has commitments outside of going to class, but somehow, we make it work.
Why did you want/run for the role of GSG president?
I have not announced officially, but I will be seeking a full election for President of the Goucher Student Government. I believe in servant student leadership and there is a need for that within our student government at all levels, but certainly at the top. GSG is interesting in that every 2-3 years it implodes, which is not all bad, but certainly not good. This is detrimental to the success and continuity of the organization, and consequently, the student voice on campus. I realized that our student government needed some serious TLC, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
What do you want students to know about you in this role as president? How can we support you?
I want students to join GSG and become a part of the greatest comeback story Goucher has ever seen! The work is certainly not easy, but our peers are worth it. I would also like to see more student engagement with campus events.