Face/Off

A semester after what was perhaps one of the most turbulent years in SG’s history, Student Body President Austin Shaw faces the daunting task of repairing SG’s tarnished image – and it looks like he may be doing it alone.

Recently Shaw’s actions toward ensuring a better relationship between SG and the administration have come under fire from some of SG’s top leaders.

Chris Mack, Boca Senate pro tempore, is at the forefront of the resistance to Shaw’s politics and believes Shaw has become a “yes man” for university administrators.

“[Shaw] is not willing to voice dissenting opinions [to the administration] that may be in the best interest of the students he represents,” Mack says.

Mack believes the essential element of a strong SG president is his or her willingness to question the motives of administrators, especially the university president.

“[Shaw] hasn’t delivered…he’s let me down,” he says. “I thought he’d be more independent and question the administration more than he has, rather than go along with what they say.”

The controversy started in December 2006 when Vice President of Student Affairs Charles Brown authored a proposal that, according to Mack, took power out of the hands of students and put it into the administration.

Mack said that the “last straw” came when Shaw had the opportunity to speak out against the proposal at a Board of Trustees meeting and chose to say nothing.

Mack has openly called for Shaw’s resignation on the Boca Senate floor saying, “If his heart is not in it for the students, then he should resign.”

Boca Senate Parliamentarian Jenna Sereni has also expressed concerns about Shaw’s leadership. And while she doesn’t believe his resignation would be in the best interest of the student body, she says several non-SG related students have come to her expressing doubts about Shaw’s willingness to act in their best interests.

“Based on what they [students] say, no, he is not working in the best interest of the student body,” Sereni says.

Still, despite the discontent of some of his colleagues and constituents, Shaw is standing firm in defense of his actions. “The relationship between SG and Student Affairs hasn’t been there. Things needed to change, and that’s why I’m here,” Shaw says.

He says it would not be in the best interest of students or SG if he consistently fights the requests of administrators.

Shaw is doing all he can to represent the students, but realizes there is a very real possibility that SG could be shut down if he is not able to successfully repair relations with the administration.

The difference between Mack’s perception and the reality of his relationship with the administration, according to Shaw, is that he does disagree with administration but works to find a middle ground.

“Dr. Brown and I vehemently disagree daily, and though I listen to his suggestions, it doesn’t mean they are always taken,” Shaw says. “This is about the need to repair the relationship between SG and the administration. This is a period of restoration and change. That’s why I’m here. If it is to fail, I will have failed, and there will be consequences.”

As for Mack’s request for his resignation, Shaw is quick to dismiss the thought. “Just because I wasn’t conforming to his expectations he wants to see me resign. I’m not resigning. How I operate is based on what’s right and what’s wrong and then who it pleases. You can’t please everybody.”