Shepard losing the flock: SGA senator speaks out against new executive administration

Andrew Linnabary

According to At-Large Senator Paige Hungate, Wichita State’s Student Government Association lacks professionalism.

“I don’t think many senators and the executive branch understand their roles,” Hungate said. “There are so many times we’re sitting there in SGA (meetings) and people just don’t know what we’re supposed to be doing next.”

Not one to shy away from voicing her opinion, Hungate tweeted Wednesday: “Glad my rights as a senator and my rights of free speech as a citizen were silenced this evening.”

This and other tweets stemmed from an executive appointment made by Student Body President Joseph Shepard. After Misha Nazir was rejected by the senate for director of Public Relations, Shepard appointed her anyway as interim. 

A statement at the end of Chief of Staff Kiah Duggins’s weekly report, outlining Sections 2.4 and 2.5 of the SGA legislative journal, stated that the senate has a right to debate the qualifications of a recommended individual, but they do not have the right to nominate a senator for a specific SGA position. 

 “We’re not saying the senate directly nominated someone on the floor, but it was insinuated that they were shooting down the nomination because they wanted someone else,” Shepard said Friday. 

Hungate and others immediately responded on social media during the meeting last week. 

She said many senators were confused about why someone not qualified for the position would be nominated; Huntgate said Nazir doesn’t have the proper programs. 

“I know Taben and Joseph are close with her,” Hungate said. “I think they saw potential in her, but I can’t really speak as to why they chose her over others.” 

Hungate said it is frustrating that her and others’ voices are not being properly heard.

“On the federal level, the executive has kind of overreached and done things that aren’t really in his realm of duties,” Hungate said. “I think that’s what’s happening in student government, as well.”

Shepard said he disagrees SGA is being exclusively ran by the executives.

“Taben and I are creating more platforms in order for students to come out and express and empower their voices and opinions,” Shepard said. “On May 5, in regards to budget cuts, we are having a town hall (meeting). This is a small example of what we’re going to be doing throughout the entire year to ensure it’s not Taben and Joseph raising their concerns, but the entire student body.”

Hungate said it is easy to tell when the cabinet is frustrated or upset with the senators, whether it is through whispering or displaying their emotions.

“If we’re supposed to be representing this awesome university, we shouldn’t be making a joke or making light out of what is supposed to be a professional workplace,” Hungate said. 

Previous SGA academics chair and concerned constituent Dalton Glasscock said the executives have been doing things without the proper procedure. 

“I think they were really just using rules to advance their aim without the senate,” Glasscock said. “I feel that it’s getting more and more ran by the executives.”

Glasscock agreed with Hungate that SGA isn’t being operated professionally.

“I feel a lot of senators are intimidated to speak their mind because they will get a glare from somebody, or someone will take it personally,” Glasscock said.

Glasscock said he thinks Shepard wasn’t the right choice for president.

“When we’re in a college for four years, I don’t necessarily agree that someone should hold the presidential position for more than a year,” Glasscock said.

Shepard said he is aware many people weren’t happy he was re-elected.

“People have went on social media and thrown daggers at us,” Shepard said. “Moving forward, we’re not necessarily concerned about who likes us, but what we can do to help bridge those gaps.”

Hungate said the 58th session was a pretty rocky one, and hoped that the issues wouldn’t extend into the 59th.

“Unfortunately, it’s just not turning out how I was hoping,” Hungate said. “There’s so many things we could be talking about, but we don’t, because we’re so caught up in the petty drama.”

Hungate said she will continue to speak up when she disagrees with a decision that is being made or debated.

“The wonderful thing about living in America is each one of us is given the right to think what we want to think and speak up about it,” Hungate said.