Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Vice President of Communications, Justine Josue, resigned on Monday, March 19, and has been replaced by A.T Bianco, former executive assistant to the Vice President of Student Life.
Josue, a senior journalism major, was elected to the position last March after receiving 57 percent of student votes. She notified USG President and senior economics major Ayyan Zubair of her resignation in person on March 19, citing personal and professional reasons, but declined to disclose specifics to The Statesman.
“Overall it’s been a rewarding experience to serve as the VP of Communications, especially since it was a job that was incomparable to anything I’ve done before,” Josue said in a statement to The Statesman. “I’m sad I won’t be able to respond to the array of Facebook comments from students anymore, the good, the bad and the always-loved sassy.”
USG’s Executive Council made the decision to appoint sophomore journalism major Bianco to fill the position.
“He really is someone who not only gets the job done, but gets the job done well,” Zubair said. “He has surpassed my expectations [since he filled the position].”
All of the 18 senators in attendance during the USG Senate meeting on Thursday, March 22, voted to officially appoint Bianco to the role.
Bianco transferred to Stony Brook from Utica College in Fall 2017 and began working in USG as Jaliel Amador’s executive assistant in January. Assistant positions are not elected, but Bianco says his experience working in USG so far has prepared him well for his new role.
“I realize that to an extent it is kind of weird to the senate, or the public, that I haven’t ran,” Bianco said. “But long story short, I would say that someone had to pick someone to step up, and because I’ve been working so close with the departments they chose me, and I am just really appreciative of the opportunity.”
Ian Ouyoung, a sophomore business and economics double major, served directly under Josue as executive assistant in the Office of Communications and Public Relations, but at the time of her resignation was running for the position of VP of Communications in the USG elections.
“[Ian] didn’t have the time per se to run the whole Office of Communications,” Zubair said. “A.T can put much more time to the overall office and the role at large.”
Ouyoung was recently elected as VP of Communications and will assume the position after graduation.
Josue’s resignation came during the most stressful time for USG. Between April and the end of the year, USG organizes Brookfest, Roth Regatta and Senior Ball. Bianco has picked up where Josue left off, but Amador said that he himself has assumed a lot of the responsibility.
“But I love it, I love the stress,” Amador, a senior business management major, said. “I come alive [when it’s] a very high paced environment and very stressful. This was just another bump in the road.”
Josue says Bianco is a good person to fill her role, but is surprised that the Executive Council chose Amador’s assistant because of the effect their previous power dynamic may have on Bianco’s new executive council position.
“[VP of Student Life and VP of Communications] work so closely together that one may take over the other, and when you’re spread too thin, you start not doing things as thoroughly as they should be done,” she said. “But since I don’t know how they are working, I can’t say that it is a problem.”
Amador maintains that his past relationship with Bianco is not a problem and has actually allowed for a smoother transition. “Right now, me and him knowing how to work with each other and understanding each other makes for an easier [Student Activities Board],” he said.
USG has not officially notified students of the transition, which has made some students question the organization’s transparency.
“I feel like this is a change students should have been notified for,” Neesan Haider, a junior biology major, said. “I feel like if they want more people to get involved and have the student body take USG more seriously, they should make more of an effort to be more transparent and accessible.”
Zubair says that he takes responsibility for not notifying students of the transition, but defends USG’s transparency.
“To be fair our Senate meetings are public info and our minutes are shared publicly, as well as the agenda as well, all of which have noted that Justine has resigned and A.T took over,” Zubair said.