Trevor Abraham, second-year NKU student, psychology major
The Northerner: I understand that you voted against the impeachment of President Lauren Goodwin. Could you elaborate on why you voted the way that you did?
Trevor Abraham: “Like I’ve been telling everybody, the only reason I voted against the impeachment is because, as a senator, we’re supposed to be as objective as we possibly can. And that being said, I voted strictly based on what was in the proposal. I didn’t take into consideration anything that was spoken on outside of the proposal.
That being said, from what I understood that was in the proposal, the grounds that they were trying to impeach her on were the fact that she doesn’t do her constitutional duties and that she didn’t approve two of the interviewees on grounds of [time management] and ‘personal reasons.’ So, looking strictly at those things, I believe she’s fulfilling her constitutional duties—as far as going to the meetings that she needs to go to, as far as hosting the SGA meetings that she needs to host, as far as reaching out to the people that she needs to reach out to. As far as those go, I believe that she has fulfilled her constitutional duties.
For not approving of the other two candidates, I go back and forth on. It was a tough decision. Because, as an interviewee, you are given the option to choose the date and time of your interview, which means that we give you that authority to choose those days. So as not being able to show up to your interview, I can see both sides of ‘I was 10 minutes late and I should still be able to have my interview’ but I also see the side of ‘You chose the day. You chose the time. You should be on time,’ if that makes sense. As for the interviewee that didn’t get approved based on personal reasons, I don’t know those personal reasons, nor do I want to know them—that is between the president and whoever the interviewee that she has those issues with.
Anything that was spoken on outside of the proposal, I wish [it] was put into the proposal because SGA—for the longest time—has had this issue. There’s a gap between the student body and SGA because a lot of people, when they come into SGA, think that their ideas reflect what the student body wants when in reality, it’s not or it’s a fraction of what the student body wants. So, I think that there’s a big disconnect in that sense. This is my third administration that I’ve been in for SGA, so I was in the administration for Hannah Edelen, Jarett Lopez, and now Lauren [Goodwin]. Being in SGA for that long, I haven’t really seen a lot of dramatic change—there’ve been little subtle changes, but there hasn’t been a lot of change in the aspect of bridging that gap between the idea that senators need to go out and talk to the student body. They just automatically assume that because they have ideas, that’s what the student body wants.”
TN: Are there any other factors that played into your decision that you would like to expand upon?
TA: “I don’t think so. I think that I stand firmly with the fact that I voted based on the constitutional grounds that they were trying to impeach her. Like I said before, I wish that some of the things that were spoken on that weren’t in the proposal were put in the proposal because then my vote more than likely would have changed.
In the three administrations that I’ve been in, I don’t think SGA has done enough for any of the minority groups on our campus. Like, I know this semester is a little different with a lot of our new senators that came in.
I believe Senator Katherine Carter and Senator Xavier Sullivan are both working on a Black studies major, which is amazing. I think that’s something that should have been in the works a while ago, but nobody, like I said, has gone out to the student body to ask those questions.
I know that Senator Jimmy Renton, Senator Xavier Sullivan, and myself are all working on an accountability resolution for SGA trying to bridge that gap between the student body and SGA because I feel like SGA has not been held accountable and needs to be held accountable. Like, not just specific people within SGA but SGA as a whole needs to be held accountable for what is being done.You could go to other organizations on campus, and you can tell the difference [between them and SGA] because other organizations have that accountability aspect. I don’t think SGA, as far as my knowledge is concerned, has a very structured accountability amongst the student body.
Just to summarize everything, I do think that if the things that were spoken on outside of the proposal were added to the proposal, my vote would have changed. I do think SGA needs to be held accountable more as a whole. And I do think that we have a lot of senators actually this semester that are starting what should have been started a while ago—like these resolutions that are being started, like talking to the student body, getting out there and talking to the minority groups that feel like their voices are not being heard, because people are being shut down for wanting to express themselves. These things are things that are happening now, and I think that’s great. I think they should have been started a while ago, to be honest. But I guess it’s better to start now than never.”
TN: I’m also curious about the point that you brought up that SGA has issues with not representing minority groups and minority students on campus and it has been an issue for a long time, not just this semester. Why do you think it’s been brought up this semester specifically if it’s been a problem for so long?
TA: “I’ve heard a lot of minority students say that their communities don’t like SGA, so nobody wants to apply. They don’t want to apply, which is understandable because, if you’re not being heard from in that organization, why would you want to be in that organization?
SGA likes to say that we do speak for everybody in the student body just because we have one or two people of color—which, in my opinion, I don’t necessarily agree with because that’s using them as tokens. I would love to see more people of color, and nationality and ethnicity and everything, apply to SGA because I really want these students’ voices to be heard. I see the concern that everybody has, and I really would like people to apply if they feel comfortable.
I just think SGA has had this issue—at least from the three administrations that I’ve been in—They’ve had an issue with saying that they’re diverse, when really the majority of people in SGA are not people of color or people of a minority.
This semester, just looking at the raw numbers, we have more people of color in this administration than we have had the past two administrations. But even then, I still don’t feel like that we can call ourselves diverse because there’s only like one or two or three people of color and it’s—Again, it’s using them as tokens to say that ‘We’re diverse,’ which I don’t agree with.”
TN: Out of all the alternatives that these issues could have been brought up, why do you think impeachment was the way that a lot of the SGA members chose to bring up these issues?
TA: “Out of all the alternatives that were brought up, I think that the student body is just done with being not heard. And I can’t blame them because after some of the things that have happened with NKU and the things that happen over break with the incoming freshmen who posted like a racial slur or the white supremacists stuff, and no one doing anything about it, the student body is fed up with it. If we’re going to be 100% honest, the student body is fed up and they need things to happen ASAP. And like I said, I don’t blame them. I 100% agree with that. Things need to start happening because we can’t just sit on our hands and not do anything about it. But I think that that’s where it kind of transfers over to SGA, like the student body being fed up and there’s no other way that they could get their point across more than saying, ‘Listen, if you’re not gonna do anything for us, then you need to go. We want somebody who is going to start making these changes [and] start getting that ball rolling.’”
TN: This meeting was heavily attended by a lot of the student body, both online and in person. How do you feel about that?
TA: “Before that Monday, I didn’t know there was going to be that many people. I figured there was going to be a few students outside of SGA that would come and attend. Then, that day, I didn’t even know there was going to be an impeachment proposal until like two hours before the meeting started. Once I was told that I was like, ‘Okay, well, that readjusted my idea of what meeting would kind of look like,’ and I did think, ‘Well, if that’s the case then I know the student body is going to be there,’ like I know there’s going to be a big representation of the student body. And there was, as there should be, because it’s something that the student body needs to be a part of.
I wish that COVID wasn’t a thing, because a lot of the students who came in person didn’t get to sit in the room because we had to social distance. It was amazing to see the student body come together as a whole to try to accomplish this goal that they had or this idea that they have.
Being a senator for as long as I have been, I like to tell people that our meetings are open to the student body—anybody and everybody can come. The only time you will have to step out is if we ever go into executive session. I like to spread that because I feel like that’s where the disconnect starts as SGA doesn’t go out of their way to tell the student body, ‘Hey, our meetings are open to you. You guys are welcome.’ “
TN: During that meeting, a lot of students came forward to tell their stories and talked about how they felt unsafe on campus. How are you representing those students in your career as a senator?
TA: “If I’m going to be 100% honest, I don’t know how to answer that because I like to do anything and everything in my power to make sure that people feel safe, but it comes with a limit. There’s only so much I can do.
I’m the type of person that if I don’t know what to do, I like to ask questions. I would like to make sure that when I ask a question and I get the answer, I fulfill what needs to be fulfilled in the way that needs to be fulfilled.
It’s sad to hear that students don’t feel safe on their own campus. It’s sad to see in general, but it’s more sad to see especially if these students live on campus. This is where they have a temporary home. If you don’t feel safe at your temporary home, then what does that say about our campus and SGA? It’s really saddening. It hurts my heart to hear that because students should feel safe on their own campus.”
N: What are your thoughts on how the actual impeachment was conducted or handled? Do you think it was a properly held trial?
TA: “I think from both sides, it could have been handled a little bit better than it was. There were points where people maybe lost their cool and were arguing with each other rather than stating facts or stating their opinion. At the meeting, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there was Dr. Eddie Howard who was kind of keeping us intact with Robert’s Rules of Order to make sure that we followed that. But yes, it could have been a little bit better from both sides. There was a lot of anger. Everybody’s feelings are valid, but there was a lot of arguing when there shouldn’t have been.
I was the one who made the motion to suspend Robert’s Rules of Order for the 15 minutes because I wanted people to be able to speak freely and wanted people to know that their voices needed to be heard. If they wanted to say something, now is their opportunity [and] there was no nothing that was holding them back. I wanted everybody to have that opportunity. And I’m glad a lot of people took that opportunity because as soon as it was suspended. I saw a lot of people walk up to those mics, which was nice.
The things that were brought up in that weren’t in the impeachment document were things like how SGA hasn’t done anything to represent the minority student population, which is true…The things about the minority students not feeling like they’re being represented in what they want and need. If those things were put into the proposal, I feel like that’s where my vote would have definitely changed because, like I mentioned before, SGA has barely done anything for our students of color—and that goes for not just our black students but our Asian students, our Latinx students, and our LGBTQ students.”
TN: What was your experience with learning about the impeachment process? Were you guys properly taught the procedures before this happened?
TA: “It’s definitely not taught to us. I had no idea how the impeachment process was supposed to go. I know that it’s in the constitution on how it’s supposed to go, but like I said, the constitution is a huge packet of 40 pages and it’s not really like something that the senators, look at, per se. That’s more of the judicial council’s realm.
I wish that they took the time to explain it a little more because I feel like going into the impeachment proposal and going through that process, I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what to expect next. I felt like I had to just trust in the people who knew the process, if that makes sense. Even if there wasn’t even an impeachment proposal that Monday, I still wish that, at some point, somebody would explain, ‘This is how an impeachment goes. This is the process of how it’s supposed to work.’ That way, if and when it does happen, we can all be on the same page and know what’s going on and what’s going to happen next, and who should be talking, who shouldn’t be talking—all those little details.”
TN: I know that this was mentioned very briefly at the meeting and then it was also talked a little bit more about on social media, but do you personally think it is a conflict of interest that President Goodwin is dating Chief Justice Cleary?
TA: “Personally, as I look at it this way, he was appointed to do a job. If he does that job, then I feel like there should be no conflict of interest because he was sworn to uphold the constitution of SGA and the student body.”
TN: Do you believe that he was doing and upholding his position in this situation?
TA: “Yes, and the only reason that I say that is I talked to him [before Monday’s meeting]. I walked up to him and I was asking him how his day was and everything, and then I asked him what he was doing and he was telling me that he was reading the constitution and making sure that he was familiar with it, so that way in case something did happen, he would be able to answer any questions. And he was taking the initiative on himself rather than going to Lauren, and being like, ‘Well, what should I do?’”
TN: I’ve noticed that there have been hate accounts and comments popping up on Twitter. What are your thoughts on those accounts?
TA: “I personally don’t use Twitter as much as maybe everybody else does. I get on it every so often, but I do know what you’re talking about and I have seen a few of them. I personally don’t agree with it. I don’t condone it. I think it’s foul and I think that it’s something that is just trying to stir the pot with either side and it’s trying to make everything out to be worse than it is.”
TN: Going forward from this experience, what is your plan as a senator for SGA?
TA: “I am currently in the works with two other senators, and we are working on that accountability resolution.
I think for me personally, as a senator, I am going back to reaching out to the student body, like we talked before. I know that sometimes I get very busy and I don’t seem to have time to go out and talk to a lot of people. I think I’m gonna make it a point to at least talk to a few people a day, and go out and talk to somebody, because there are a lot of people out here that have really good ideas, and they need to be heard.”