SGA President steps down


G-Jun Yam

Jerel Ballard, Student Government Association president and junior journalism major, said while it is sad to leave SGA, he is excited to pursue his end goals.

By Campus Reporter

Tears were shed by the Student Government Association’s executive board during its Nov. 10 meeting at The Loft, 916 S. Wabash Ave., after SGA President Jerel Ballard announced he would resign from his role at the end of the Fall 2015 Semester.

Ballard, a junior journalism major, said he plans to leave his SGA post for an internship opportunity with The Fund for American Studies program which, according to its website, focuses on “the values of freedom and free-market economies,” in Washington during the Spring 2016 Semester.

Ballard said the exact details of the internship on Capitol Hill will be determined in January. He added that he will attend George Mason University on a scholarship during the Spring 2016 Semester and study in partnership with both George Mason and Columbia. He said any credits from George Mason, which received $13.3 million from the Koch Family Foundation in 2013, according to an Oct. 30, 2015, story in Atlantic magazine, will transfer back to Columbia.

Ballard added that the special election to replace him is scheduled for Dec. 8. He said only Senate members can vote, but the election is open to the public to attend.

Amanda Hamrick, SGA’s executive vice president and a junior interactive arts & media major, said she plans to run for SGA president. She said the qualifications to run for SGA president include having a 2.5 grade point average and the delivery of an election speech.

“This [semester] is the most I have seen the senators involved,” Hamrick said. “I think SGA is going to be [making] more, bigger changes to the campus.”

Hamrick said Luther Hughes, SGA vice president of Finance and a senior creative writing major, is also considering running for SGA president.

Ballard said this has been the most successful year SGA has seen in terms of money given back to departments for student initiatives, departmental forums and record-breaking attendance at Pizza with the President forums.

“Looking back, it has been a pleasure serving in this position,” Ballard said. “I loved everything from being an at-large senator to being the president and everything in between.”

Ballard said he discovered the internship opportunity during the summer, later deciding to pursue it.

Ballard said he is a journalism major, but many of his experiences in college have involved politics. He said he interned for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s press office from June through September 2015, and he currently interns for Sen. Richard Durbin (D–IL). 

“Having an internship in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill, whether it’s in a congressman’s office or another senator’s office, will fully advance me toward my end goal, which is either [to be] a political reporter, a broadcast journalist or maybe even a politician,” Ballard said.

Arissa Scott, student representative to the board of trustees and a senior fashion studies major, said this past year has been transitional for SGA with changes to membership, constitutional amendments and overall goals for the organization.

“I think [the executive board] was emotional in the sense that we feel like this is the first senate we have all experienced that has felt like a community and a family,” Scott said. “As great an opportunity as it is, to have someone leave that family is still sad.”