Student Government hosts first-ever State of the Union Gala

SG President Chyna Brodie speaks on resilience of AU community

Student Government hosts first-ever State of the Union Gala

American University Student Government President Chyna Brodie celebrated AU students’ resilience through the past two years during SG’s first-ever State of the Union Gala on Sunday night.

The event took place in the Rotunda lobby of the Katzen Arts Center and featured dances from American Bhangra Crew and the Les Coeurs D'Afrique dance team, live music and an address by Brodie. The event was followed by a dance.

During Brodie’s address, she acknowledged the time AU students are living through with the coronavirus pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine. 

“As college students, we have had an incredibly unique and arduous experience,” Brodie said. “Our world, our country and our schools are in a period of transition.”

Brodie also spoke about the accomplishments SG has made in the past year, including improving campus food insecurity, working with affinity organizations on campus and diversifying the Undergraduate Senate. 

“Even though this year has been tough, we have no less persevered in creating a meaningful year on campus,” Brodie said.

The event was open to 300 students from the AU community, and Brodie estimates around 300 people attended. The event cost a total of $4,464.72, according to SG Comptroller Paul Relyea.

Funds for the gala came from the SG general fund, Relyea said. According to School of International Service undergraduate council President Matthew Low, undergraduate councils were told to wait until after the gala to request money that was outside of their already determined budget for programming. 

“Our council has a distinct budget for programming and operations, which we've been using, but we were told that if we needed more funding, we were to wait until the SOTU event was over to make requests,” Low said.

The budgets for the councils were separate from the SG general funds where money would be requested from. 

"[Undergraduate councils] have asked me repeatedly if they could use SG General and I advised that they spend the money specifically allocated to them first. The Finance Committee specified in its budget that the SG General account was to fund the State of the Union event to ‘encourage collaboration among the executives,’” SG Comptroller Paul Relyea wrote in an email to The Eagle. 

Masks were required, as noted on advertisements for the event. Additionally, the University’s mask mandate of N96, KN95 or KF95 masks was still in place. However, Brodie said enforcing the mask mandate at the gala was “hard.”

“It’s difficult because you’re dealing with people either drinking something or wanting to take photos,” she said, in an interview after the event. 

The University has since lifted the mask mandate, but this change was not in effect until after the event. 

Amid the constraints of the pandemic, Brodie told students to funnel their feelings about current events into action and uplift the voices of others. 

“We do not let history pass us by. Instead, we stand up, we fight and we amplify the voices of others around us who need it the most,” Brodie said during her speech. 

Editor's Note: At the time of publication, Brodie is on suspension as SG president and Relyea, as comptroller, has taken over her duties for one week. For the purposes of this article, The Eagle is still referring to Brodie as SG president because she was in active office at the time of the event.

This article has been updated to clarify that undergraduate councils, more than just the SIS undergraduate council, were given instruction on waiting to request funds.

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