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SGA gives “big middle finger” to student protesters, removes them from meeting

Editorial Board and Staff of The Clock


It takes a deep contempt for democracy to kick students out of a meeting for protesting an absence of transparency. Our student government nonetheless removed more than 30 students defending the right to record SGA meetings on Monday, December 4. 

The Clock has challenged SGA’s opposition to democratic procedure all semester, but it took SGA only 15 minutes to suspend the public’s right to attend their meeting. Seven of those minutes comprised a confused consultation with Robert’s Rules of Order, their guide on parliamentary procedure. Instead of defending the integrity of their meetings, SGA looks up how to remove people from them. Only three of the 18 voting representatives present voted to keep the meeting open to the public: Skylar Hammes, Hannah Lowell, and Quinn Hagerty, who is also a member of The Clock.

SGA dodged their obligation to allow recording by entering a private session as soon as the protesters announced they were recording. This is legally questionable. New Hampshire’s right-to-know law sets specific requirements for public bodies (including advisory committees to USNH administrations) to enter a private session. SGA met none. SGA announced they will continue to enter private sessions whenever a member is “looking for privacy.” This is a euphemism; SGA intends to enter a private session whenever someone tries to record. 

SGA meetings are “open to everyone,” according to their website. They are public meetings with elected representatives that allocate public funds. The public, therefore, has a right to know what goes on at these meetings. No elected representative that expresses their opinions for an audience has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Recording SGA meetings is legally justified and ethically necessary. Recorded meetings, and responsible reporting as a whole, benefit both the public and SGA. Recording helps journalists report with more specificity. Recording preserves attributions. Recording gives those reported on confidence that they will be represented fairly. Thorough reporting is beneficial to the student body as a whole, and recording is necessary for thorough reporting. To prevent recording denies SGA the opportunity to engage with the student media and by extension the student body. 

31 students attended the meeting to support recording rights, representing clubs including The Clock, Gaming Club, Common Ground, and PSU Democrats and Republicans. “How are we supposed to know who to vote for if we’re not getting any information on what the candidates stand for in the first place?” said Paranormal Research Club Vice President Corey Baker. Sophomore Violet Lempke called SGA’s decision cowardly, and said it was “representative of a culture where students in power feel the decisions they make should not be subject to public opinion because it might hurt their feelings.”

PSU Republicans President Ethan Dupuis criticized the representatives who abstained from voting. “At least the people that voted yes had some conviction,” he said. “So many people came to support the student body, and SGA literally shut the door. It’s a big middle finger.” Dupuis had praise for one member of SGA, though: Class of 2027 Representative Quinn Hagerty, who left the meeting in protest following SGA’s vote to move to a private session. “I think everybody should have done that,” Dupuis said. “Everybody that actually represents the priorities of the student body should have walked out.” 

SGA is not interested in representing the student body, though. They have done everything in their power to keep the public from a fair, timely, and accurate representation of their meetings. They barred The Clock from the room during votes. They claim exemption from state law when they disagree, and then cite it when it serves their agenda. And on Monday, they kicked their constituents out. SGA is more interested in bolstering their LinkedIn profiles than helping the student body. Plymouth deserves a higher caliber of representation.

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The Clock received the following statements from participants in Monday’s meeting:

I would like to make it clear that before being a Student Government Representative, I am a student. Before I am a student, I am a person. I am incredibly proud of all the work that students have put in to ensuring their voices are heard, as I am an avid lover of protest myself. What you all did is incredibly brave, and I want you to know that you are heard. You are all seen. 

Last night, my opinion as a Student Government Representative, student, and person aligned. I voted no on moving to a closed session simply due to the fact that my role in this school is to make it a better place for the people we represent. I understand that at times this can impede business which can also negatively impact the student population, and I often feel conflicted on this point and hope that all the well-meaning people that we two organizations are can find a balance as we go into the next semester. 

As you are all people that we represent, I voted as such to represent the importance behind the protest that you all have been doing your best to bring to our attention, and the importance of transparency. This email may not represent the views of the entirety of the Student Government Association, as I am only representing who I am as a representative for my class, who I am as a student, and who I am as a person.

Skylar Hammes ’27, Class of 2027 Treasurer

I voted no to making Monday night’s SGA meeting a closed session because I don’t think it was fair for the thirty (or so) students who came to sit in and listen to be kicked out. During my time on SGA, I have never seen that many students come and sit in during our meetings. I was moved by the number of students who came out on a cold, snowy Monday night during finals to listen to our meeting and to what we, as a student organization, had to say. Closing the doors and telling them that they had to leave after they’d shown interest in our meeting was and is something I don’t agree with so I voted no. The time we have the most students joining our meeting and showing interest in what we are doing is when vote to kick them out. If a situation like this happens again in the future, I will continue to vote no.

Hannah Lowell ’26, Class of 2026 Representative, Off-Campus Representative

“I wasn’t shocked at all, how William Hicking immediately said [he did not want to be recorded]. He was right on that bandwagon. Before even like voting even started, he immediately said “close the meeting.” That was like, well, what do you have to hide? We are the students, you’re our student government? Why are you hiding from us?

I just want to say the class of 2027, The representatives that were there, Quinn and [Skylar], they both said no. And I know someone else did say no, but I unfortunately do not know their name. But I just want to say that they were very brave for doing that. That Quinn, in fact, did stand up against SGA and walked out with us. It takes a lot to speak up against an organization you are with especially that holds that much power. And I can speak for all of us, we are very grateful that he did.”

Eva Chase ’26

I think it was just representative of a culture that’s been developed, where students who are in power feel that the decisions they make should not be subject to public opinion because it may hurt their feelings. I think everyone except for Quinn in that room was a coward. Especially those that chose to vote [to close the session]. To me that represents that you want the power to make decisions for other people without being held accountable for the way that you represent those people.

I also reject the right of a governmental organization to declare that they’re not governmental in order to avoid responsibility, that’s an absurdist claim and is unacceptable. I believe that students should be represented fairly and not by people who gain their sway by making statements and then don’t hold themselves accountable to represent the people who voted them in. I was very taken aback by the idea of closed door meetings to determine the way funding an organization is determined.

I respect the idea of individuals not wanting to be recorded. However, I think that’s a sacrifice you inherently make when you take a public position. And if you don’t want to be public, don’t take a public position. It comes with the role and is a little bit of a ridiculous ask. As a computer scientist, if I said, “I don’t consent to programming,” I would be laughed out of the room and I don’t see why it’s any different for public representatives. They are not representatives of Plymouth State University, they are representatives of the students and are subject to the will of the students.

Violet Lempke ‘26

I’m completely disappointed in the showing of student government tonight. They’re there to represent us, they’re there to have a discussion with the student body, and the fact that so many people came in to support them, and that they’re literally shutting the door. Well, I have to say, it’s a big middle finger. It really is. Because it’s not a club. It’s a clique. And that’s what it’s becoming. And if they honestly can close the door like that, I honestly am unimpressed. They need somebody to be an adult in there. 

…I personally believe that abstentions are only supposed to be for conflicts of interest. If you’re representing a club, and you’re also on Student Government, that’s what I think it’s for. It’s not for, “oh, I don’t want to get any negative press from this.”

 …I respect the three people, even though I’ve had political differences with some of those people, that raised their hand tonight. I look at them in a different lens. Because I mean, honestly, it was very impressive. And I think it’s a lack of virtue as a club, or as a government in total. And I think that people should vote ’em out.

Ethan Dupuis ’26, President of Campus Republicans

This is a great representation of democracy dying in the darkness. The fact that there is no third party in the room where decisions get made: this isn’t happening anywhere else in our government process, and it doesn’t deserve to happen here… I guess my biggest question for SGA is: When is the learning over? And when does the governing begin? Because this isn’t governing. And this isn’t right… Anyone who says they’re in it for the education or it’s an educational process: I think it’s a very, very clever way to say that, “I don’t know what I’m doing…” I’ve been to multiple SGA meetings now. And I can tell you, a common tenant of each SGA meeting is pulling out Robert’s Book of Rules, and reading it like it’s their first time reading it. I would hope that, at the bare minimum, our elected representatives can be familiar with the rules they were elected to protect… I think that unfortunately, there are no adults in the room. And adults need to be in the room for a democracy to function… This is an unprofessional environment. And this is not what we deserve as a student body… SGA isn’t a conscription. You chose to show up. You chose to run. And you chose to run with the acknowledgment that it is going to be a large time commitment and that you are going to have to learn these rules. Frankly, I don’t think that group of SGA, that group of elected officials, I don’t think there is a reality in which they can effectually govern.

Oscar Lakowicz ’26, President of Campus Democrats

It really is a matter of, how are you going to try and represent the student body, but not want the student body to know how you’re representing them? You should be proud and be like, “yes, I am representing the student body. I’m doing this. I’m voting on behalf of them.” But the student body can’t properly vote on the representatives if they don’t know what the candidates, what the people already in student government are voting for and are standing for? How are we supposed to know who we’re supposed to vote for if we’re not getting any information on what the candidates are standing for in the first place?… As a trans man on campus, it’s honestly terrifying to think how many of my rights on campus could be put at risk simply because Student Government doesn’t have the nerve to stand up for what they know is right. 

Corey Baker ’26, Vice President of Paranormal Research Club

[I think it’s utterly disgraceful that] they decided to placate [Will Hicking] by keeping such a neutral – and honestly cowardly – stance on the whole situation. Not considering that they are students themselves and in any other situation, if they were in this position, that they would most likely be on our side. Because this is cutting off a major part of our right to be here and our right to have a say in what goes on in our community. As a senior and as someone who is leaving in the next semester, it makes me honestly really scared for the future of this campus and how all of my underclassmen friends are going to have to have to deal with this going forward. It’s a problem

…To the people that I have gone to school with for the last few years that have been on this board, I would just like to say I am incredibly disappointed in your cowardice. And I hope that I hope that it sticks with you. I hope that this decision remains in your head for quite a while. Because this is this is disappointing. This is disgusting. This is deplorable. And I can’t use foul language but I hope you understand what I mean.

Wynter DeLong ‘24

1 thought on “SGA gives “big middle finger” to student protesters, removes them from meeting

  1. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Perform accurate reporting, and maybe SGA wouldn’t have cause to kick you out.

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