Courtesy of NIU Student Government Association
DeKALB — Around 80 students attended the Student Government Association Senate meeting Sunday to express their concerns about SGA Vice President Kyle Jacobson’s responsibility to represent the entire student body.
At the meeting, students and Senators questioned Jacobson’s support for the Blue Lives Matter movement, his position in Turning Point USA and his ability to represent all students at the university due to recent posts on his social media accounts.
Senators discussed that SGA officers should keep their political beliefs separate from an apolitical organization such as SGA.
Former SGA President Naomi Bolden said Jacobson has made it clear that the feelings and opinions of the Black community don’t concern him based on his recent social media posts.
“NIU is home to many types of community members – multicultural, LGBTQ+, conservative, liberal, religious – and his ignorance and unwillingness to educate himself on people and communities different from him affect his ability to do his job efficiently and without personal bias,” Bolden said.
Bolden said Jacobson threatened her with a cease and desist order after she posted about the local chapter of Turning Point USA. Turning Point USA is a conservative organization that promotes the principles of freedom, free markets and limited government, according to the TPUSA website.
Jacobson is the founding member of the TPUSA NIU chapter; however, it’s not SGA recognized.
Graduate student Chantel Davis said she initially raised concerns about Jacobson’s behavior on social media to the university and the public. After this, Jacobson sent her a cease and desist letter.
“He was extremely abrasive and inconsiderate when he reached out to me on social media platforms,” Davis said. “If he decided to block me on one account, he would use another account I didn’t know about to watch what I was posting and to message me privately.”
Jacobson was at the meeting but didn’t comment on the discussion. When reached for a further comment outside the meeting, Jacobson declined to comment.
SGA is an inclusive, apolitical, student-led organization, said SGA President Antonio Johnson in a statement. He said SGA doesn’t associate with any political groups or movements and that they’re working to address the outstanding issues.
“The job of the Student Government Association is to represent all students regardless of race, gender, religion or political affiliation,” the statement reads.
An agenda item for Senators to discuss the public comments made at Sunday’s meeting was added to Sunday’s agenda. Halfway through the meeting, the Senate switched from a Microsoft Teams meeting to a Microsoft Live event because public comments weren’t being recorded in the chat, which is a violation of the Open Meetings Act, Speaker of the Senate Brad Beyer said.
Senators discussed what further action could be taken to address the concerns raised by students.
Beyer said he’s spoken with Jacobson about his social media use and involvement with TPUSA before, but there doesn’t seem to be a change in behavior.
“There needs to be a separation between SGA and political interests,” Beyer said. “I certainly am not thrilled with the way that recent events have transpired in the past week in terms of posts that were made by him. It’s not professional. It is not in the best interest of all students.”
Cristian Hernandez, chairperson of the campus and Greek life committee said it’s a conflict of interest when a sitting member of the SGA is a part of a political organization that’s pushing a certain agenda.
“This is more than just a difference in opinion,” Hernandez said. “I see the frustrations and share them with the student body.”
Beyer said SGA officers can’t be removed from office solely for their political beliefs and what Jacobson has done on social media doesn’t warrant abuse of power.
The Senate has the ability to remove any officer for academic misconduct, failure to keep accurate records, financial misconduct, neglect of duty, abuse of privileges of office or criminal behavior, according to article seven, section two of the SGA Constitution.
Senator Samantha Gurrola said the Senate should go forward with the removal of office because the language in the SGA Constitution states “proper reasons for removal shall include, but are not limited to.”
To start the removal process, a petition signed by seven Senators must be introduced at a Senate meeting. Seven days after the petition is introduced to the Senate, a hearing must be held, and a two-thirds majority vote would be necessary for conviction, according to article seven, section one of the SGA Constitution.
“Students have expressed they do not feel welcome,” Gurrola said. “Students have expressed they do not feel certain all elected officials align with NIU’s mission. I think we can all agree that doing nothing makes it look like NIU and SGA are accepting these behaviors that Vice President Jacobson has repeatedly done.”