SGA responds to Liz Wheeler controversy

The SGA passed a resolution condemning Liz Wheeler’s upcoming lecture, marking the first time the SGA has spoken up on the issue since funding the event.

The Student Government Association (SGA) Senate gave out the annual Madison Vision Teaching Awards (MVTAs) and passed a resolution to release an immediate statement regarding JMU’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom’s (YAF) lecture with Liz Wheeler, which took place Wednesday evening.

SGA addresses Liz Wheeler

A resolution passed to issue an immediate statement on behalf of SGA regarding YAF’s event with Liz Wheeler, a conservative political commentator. The resolution had one nay from graduating executive treasurer Brandon Market, who declined to comment. 

The event’s topic and title, “The Ideology of Transgenderism”, was announced on YAF’s social media platforms April 17 and was met with comments from students condemning the event. SGA approved $3,000 in contingency funds to YAF on Jan. 30. 

The statement, which was posted to SGA’s social media platforms directly after Tuesday’s meeting, acknowledged its  role in the approval of the event’s funding and said it felt YAF’s request was “misleading”, as the topic chosen for the event wasn’t one of the topics presented. 

“We fully support freedom of speech and an open forum for discussion of ideas on campus, and encourage those opposed to the event to exercise their first amendment rights,” the statement said. 

Junior Mahek Shroff, finance liaison, said it’s “important” to acknowledge the event considering SGA provided the funding for the event. Junior Legislative Affairs Chair Marcus Rand said the students needed to hear SGA’s response to this and that “it will go a long way” to ease student concerns. 

“We should absolutely clarify what happened,” Reagan Polarek, 2026 student body president, said, “for transparency’s sake.” 

SGA passes MVTAs resolution

A resolution passed unanimously to award MVTAs to recognize the success of JMU faculty and to acknowledge the recipients of the award. Newly elected Speaker of the Senate senior Carlin McNeil Bumgarner gave out the MVTAs to three JMU professors. 

The awarded faculty were:

  • Dr. Matthew Ezzell, professor of sociology and Sociology Program Coordinator
  • Dr. Chen Guo, associate professor, School of Media Arts and Design
  • Dr. Šarūnas Jankauskas, associate professor, School of Music

Bumgarner said the MVTAs are given out to instructional faculty members that “excel” in encouraging engaged learning in students. 

A one-time $500-$1000 educational grant will be given to the awarded faculty members, according to JMU’s website. 

“These awards are unique on campus as the winners are selected entirely by students,” Bumgarner said. “This award was designed to give students a voice in recognizing excellent teaching.” 

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