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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Student senator announces resignation from student government, claims personal privacy was violated

Fine+Arts+Sen.+Garett+Knight+listens+during+SGA+after+announcing+his+impending+resignation+and+the+suspension+of+his+seat.+According+to+Knight%2C+the+decision+was+made+after+his+personal+health%2C+financial+and+academic+information+was+shared+without+his+consent+amongst+senate+leadership.
Allison Campbell
Fine Arts Sen. Garett Knight listens during SGA after announcing his impending resignation and the suspension of his seat. According to Knight, the decision was made after his personal health, financial and academic information was shared without his consent amongst senate leadership.

Fine Arts Sen. Garett Knight announced his impending resignation from Wichita State’s Student Government Association and the suspension of this seat, claiming that the association violated his personal privacy by sharing his personal health and safeguarded FERPA information. 

During the Oct. 18 SGA session, Knight took to the podium to share what he called a very “emotional” situation. He said the purpose of his statement was not to “publicly humiliate or single any individual out” but to raise awareness for unforeseen circumstances like those he endured.

“Within these walls, I find myself not shunned by the majority of my fellow students, but rather marginalized by those in positions of higher authority,” Knight said. “Not by an administrative level, but a peer leadership level as well.”

Knight said that within the past few months, multiple credible sources informed him that his financial status, medical information and academic history and status were “recklessly disclosed” to members of the body, resulting in mistreatment, rumors and discussions that limited his authority.

“The information regarding my mental health, physical and mental disabilities and other personal matters have not only circulated but have been wielded against me in creating an image of myself that is nowhere near factual to who I am,” Knight said.

Toward the beginning of the 2024 academic year, Knight was hospitalized for about a week, something that he made known to others without disclosing the personal details or cause of the hospitalization. He said his confidential medical information was later breached and spread among members within SGA. 

“(The individuals within this body) neither possess the authorization nor entitlement to access such information,” Knight said. “I’m very open about me being gone for that week, but I am not open about the reason behind it.”

He said the leaked information regarding his mental health and disability status was shared without his knowledge or consent, which was used to belittle his character.

His ADHD diagnosis was also made public. Knight claimed it was used to limit his leadership opportunities and involvement within SGA, violating Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Knight said that at the next SGA meeting on Nov. 1, he will present a bill as a student to mandate the Senate’s compliance with accommodations and support for students and faculty and prevent such information breaches in the future. He said he would like to extend the bill to protect students in registered student organizations as well.

“Privacy is a fundamental right of each and every one of us. For you, for me and for every student at Wichita State University,” Knight said. “Your privacy is not the right of others, so do not settle for less than what you deserve.”

Knight will suspend his seat until “these issues are resolved to my satisfaction,” or he will not return to SGA. He encouraged other senators in positions similar to his to advocate for students but also, most importantly, for themselves.

“If you sense that you, too, are facing a similar ordeal, I urge you to raise your voices and cast a light on your circumstances. That is why you’re here,” Knight said. “To stand up for the students, but you first have to stand up for yourself.”

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About the Contributor
Allison Campbell, News Editor
Allison Campbell is the news editor for The Sunflower. A South African native, Campbell is a junior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Campbell hopes to pursue a career in editing after graduation. They use any pronouns.

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  • AnonymousOct 22, 2023 at 1:08 pm

    How dare they do this to you. Hang in there.

    Reply