Emerson Student Government Association takes no confidence vote

Photo Credit: Isabella Osgood

By Emma Siebold

Emerson College students call for the resignation of President Jay Bernhardt following the arrest of over 100 protestors on campus. The Student Government Association (SGA) unanimously passed a vote of no confidence for the president and called for him to step down. 

SGA hosted the general assembly in the Bright Family Screening Room, which quickly filled. The meeting was streamed on Zoom, which also filled. There were 350 Zoom participants, but many students shared devices, and dozens gathered in Little Building classrooms to watch together. 

The resolution was drafted by audit committee chair Angus Abercrombie, outgoing president Charlize Silvestrino, and president-elect Nandan Nair. Executive board members said the vote was taken via a secret ballot to ensure the safety and anonymity of the SGA voting members. There were 17 voting members present, and the announcement of its unanimous passing received cheers and a standing ovation from the assembled students. 

Once the resolution was introduced to the assembly, students in the room and on the Zoom call gave testimonies and accounts of what they witnessed during the first day of the encampment and Thursday morning’s arrests. Many students who spoke were arrested and said they saw students injured by excessive use of police force. 

Many students also expressed frustration with the communication between students and the administration following the arrests of 12 Emerson students at Bernhardt’s inauguration ceremony. Abercrombie said the administration failed again in the aftermath of Thursday’s arrests. 

“It’s not a new problem, it’s just growth, escalation, it’s a pattern of behavior,” Abercrombie said. “The last 48 hours have been the worst we’ve seen, but it’s nothing explicitly new.”

Nair said Bernhardt has not made himself available to SGA members and has not followed through on discussions between students and administrators. 

“We also believe this has left a huge negative scar on the college,” Nair said. It will impact our community and enrollment for the future, which is a direct threat to the future of Emerson College.”

SGA will email the Board of Trustees outlining the resolution and the unanimous vote. During the assembly, Nair announced that if Bernhardt does not immediately resign, SGA will ask the Board for his immediate termination. 

“I call upon Jay Bernhardt himself to resign to make sure that students have a voice in the future of this college and to make sure students have our voice,” Nair said. 

Hours after the assembly, the Board of Trustees released a statement supporting Bernhardt. 

“We chose Jay Bernhardt as a transformational leader who could bring us together in difficult times,” the statement said. “The board remains confident in President Bernhardt’s leadership and unequivocally supports his presidency.”