60th Session of SGA begins, Shepard receives emeritus status

The 60th Chapter of SGA went into session for the first time Wednesday night following the swearing in of Paige Hungate and Breck Towner as student body president and vice president.

The 60th Session’s meeting, which was largely devoted to swearing in new senators, followed the final meeting of the 59th Session where a resolution was passed awarding emeritus status, an honorary title, to outgoing Student Body President Joseph Shepard.

Outgoing Student Body Vice President Taben Azad approached the podium and surprised Shepard by reading the resolution, which commended him for his dedication to the university and his perseverance in the face of opposition.

After reading the resolution, Azad spoke directly to Shepard.

“I’m thankful for the journey, thankful for the adventure, and you’ve taught me so many things,” Azad said. “You’re right, we’re not friends at all—you’re my brother, you’ll always be my brother, and I appreciate what you’ve done for me, for the students on this campus, and for the Association as a whole.”

After Azad, a slew of senators and executive members voiced their appreciation for Shepard—recounting memories and bringing him to tears on multiple occasions.

Even vocal critics of Shepard during his administration, such as Hungate, took time to thank him.

“I’ve grown so much because of Joseph, and he’s taught me so many things,” Hungate said. “We’ve fought a lot along the way, but I couldn’t be more grateful for being able to get to understand and be able to have those tough conversations.”

Shepard tearfully addressed the senate, thanking them for the honor before imploring the outgoing senators to continue advocating for the student body.

“The advocacy doesn’t stop here,” Shepard said. “Dry your tears. There’s work to be done, and the 60th Session can’t do it alone.”

Looking forward to her administration after the 60th Session’s meeting, Hungate spoke of the change she hopes to see within the student senate.

“I don’t want people to walk into the room and feel like their voices aren’t going to be heard and that they’re going to be silenced during senate,” Hungate said. “A big thing that I hope to change this year is just having a positive atmosphere where people know people for who they are and not just how they vote.”