Roa resigns: Acrimony, tension at USG Senate

Rohan Goswami, News Editor

In an emotionally charged session, which ran into the late hours of the night of Nov. 30, the Tulane University Undergraduate Student Government Senate convened for an open discussion on “the current state of our organization.” The meeting was in preparation for a more comprehensive assessment on the “issues plaguing our campus, especially sexual assault.”

Executive Vice President Olivia Mullaney shared that Jamie Roa resigned from her role as President of USG. At the time of the meeting, Roa had not shared a statement with USG. Mullaney said that she would assume the role of President. 

Vice President for Finance Alexa Authorlee also announced her resignation. In part, Authorlee said that “lies” told about her and the organizations she belongs to contributed to her feeling like she was not valued for her contributions to USG.

After handling the four bills on the agenda, parliamentary rules were suspended to facilitate a discussion around racist and anti-Black behavior within Tulane and USG specifically. 

Authorlee’s resignation marked a turning point in the meeting, with several current and former USG leaders and candidates sharing their personal experiences with USG. Former Executive Vice President Reagan McKinney said Tulane “was founded on white supremacist ideas” and that “USG is inherently white supremacist” as well. 

In what was at times visibly emotional testimony, Mia Harris, who ran against Roa in the 2021 USG Presidential election, shared the “trauma” she suffered in what was a contentious campaign. As students of color, Harris said, “you have to spend all of your labor and your time and energy just trying to get to where most of you start.” 

Justin Hartley, former USG equity, diversity and inclusion director, said that Roa’s resignation was “not accountability for Mia Harris, DaSean Spencer or any person of color who experienced harm by her.” 

Hartley continued to say that USG “should have been doing the work after those resolutions were passed in the spring that demanded that people do not transition to their roles.”

McKinney, who said she is working alongside Laura Osteen, Tulane assistant vice president for campus life, on restructuring USG, said that any restructuring of USG could not be centered around whiteness. 

Hartley echoed that sentiment and added that restructuring must be centered around marginalized groups. 

Omar Ahmad, a School of Science and Engineering senator, argued to widespread applause that USG’s Constitution and Bylaws ought to be reworked immediately.

Harris closed out the meeting by saying “I don’t think a lot of your peers have reason to be interested … They have a lot of other infrastructures which they hold power in and they don’t need this body.”

USG Senate will meet Dec. 7 to address, in part, the sexual violence crisis on campus.