SGA senator resigns after alleged plagiarism, lack of accountability regarding Honors College response

Student Government Association senators gather in their meeting chambers, located in the University Student Commons, in October 2019. Photo by Jon Mirador

Eduardo Acevedo, Contributing Writer

Student Government Association senator Jed Baul resigned on Friday due to alleged plagiarism in the organization, following an SGA statement in response to VCU’s repurpose of the Honors College into a temporary hospital.

The SGA statement posted to Twitter on Friday chastised the university for not keeping students informed during the removal of residents’ belongings from the Honors College.

“We are greatly disappointed at the lack of communication, transparency, and respect for students’ personal property and privacy that VCU and VCU Health Systems has shown during this time,” the SGA statement said.

Baul said his resignation was prompted by the plagiarism of members’ ideas and efforts, including his own, within the SGA’s Honor College statement. He said his role as senator wasn’t to give VCU a “free pass.”

“SGA is being run by people acting Trump-like and that should be frightening for everyone,” Baul wrote in the resignation statement posted to his Instagram. “SGA has taken my heart and passion to fight for students and thrown both out the window.”

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My official statement on resigning as SGA Senator.

A post shared by jed / make all #BLM (@whatsupitsjed) on

Baul says he and another member of the SGA began working on a collective statement, after a video was posted to social media showing student belongings being removed from Honors College dorms. He said he shared the statement in a group chat so members could collaborate, and that SGA President Breanna Harmon took parts of the statement to write her own.

Baul said in his resignation on Instagram that SGA leadership and senators have treated other members poorly and failed to consider suggestions and comments that could benefit the students.

“SGA has failed you at the most critical time. … We can’t even hold our own members accountable for their irresponsible actions,” Baul said. “Holding SGA accountable means: fall back in line and follow the President.”

Baul called the SGA statement released on Friday a “presidential statement” that excused the actions of VCU Health and administration by saying members of the SGA “respect the university’s mission” but are “greatly disappointed.”

“We can’t even condemn the university on their actions throughout the entire year nor demand for more from our university to fully help the student body and faculty,” Baul said in an email.

Baul apologized for not being able to do more as a leader in the organization and said he was part of SGA’s failure to properly function.

Harmon said the Honors College statement was a “collaborative” effort from the executive branch, senators and delegates.

“Nevertheless, I am saddened to hear of his [Baul’s] resignation because every member plays an important role in empowering the students and making sure their voice is heard,” Harmon said in an email.

The SGA statement said the organization empathizes with Honors College residents and aims to support and advocate for students during “troubling and unprecedented times.” 

SGA’s statement included links to a form for students to express opinions on remote learning, and a survey for graduate and professional students.

SGA asked that VCU administration include students in conversations regarding them in the future.

This article was updated to include another quote and additional information from Jed Baul.

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