Anna Lubitz's presidency was rife with controversy. (PHOTO CAPTION: FRANK POSILLICO)
Anna Lubitz’s presidency was rife with controversy. (PHOTO CAPTION: FRANK POSILLICO)

Anna Lubitz is well known on campus.

But she might be most well known for her term as Undergraduate Student Government President last year, a term that started with high expectations and approval from the student body but ended in dissatisfaction and disappointment in the eyes of her colleagues and peers.

In just one term, Anna Lubitz went from holding the top undergraduate leadership position at Stony Brook to almost facing impeachment by members of her own party.

Lubitz, a senior commuter student majoring in biology on the pre-veterinarian track, got her start in politics in middle school as a member of the student council. She continued on to be the junior class president in high school, and even though she felt the election process was more intense at Stony Brook, Lubitz gave college politics a try.

After serving as a senator in her sophomore year, she ran for USG President in 2012 and won with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Lubitz began her term with high expectations by trying to fulfill her “Seawolves for Change” campaign promises and create a name for herself as the first female junior to be elected president of USG.

She was passionate about her work. During her presidential career she could be seen on campus dressed head to toe in red on Fridays, smiling as she greeted students and cheerfully doing whatever task at hand, even if it was conducting surveys for the commuter assistance program in the pouring rain.

In an interview with The Statesman before she took office, Lubitz said one of her goals was to amend the bridge of communication between students and USG and give the students more say in who performed on campus.

The result of that goal is the “Back to the Brook Concert,” a fall music event held at Staller, which Mac Miller headlined this year.

Lubitz also moved the spring concert venue to the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium because of the ongoing construction at the Stony Brook Arena, the usual location of spring concerts. The space was chosen for its large seating capacity, according to an article published by The Statesman on April 22 of this year.

Despite her good intentions, confusion regarding the concerts caused political trouble for Lubitz.

Last spring, Kendrick Lamar and Steve Aoki were scheduled to play the spring concert until they failed security checks due to “slam dancing,” according to University Police.

Most people, though, thought Lamar and Aoki were not performing because Lubitz did not like rap music—a rumor that originated from a statement by Zachary Guarnero, the former director of the Student Activities Board. SAB is “in charge of deciding, planning and implementing the large scale campus events,” according to USG’s website, like Roth Regatta and the spring concert. Guarnero was also romantically linked to Lubitz at the time.

During a meeting where SAB was supposed to vote on whether to have Lamar and Aoki play, Guarnero expressed Lubitz’s opinions that USG should change the musical genre of the concert performance, especially since the previous concert featured rapper Wiz Khalifa. When students learned of this, Lubitz’s actions were interpreted as being selfish—some thought the performer was being changed because Lubitz does not like rap.

Coinciding with the statements on Lubitz’s behalf, a second survey was sent out by Guarnero around the same time. This survey, looking for student input about new concert candidates, was not approved by SAB, as reported by “The Press.”

On April 4, 2013, the USG Senate held an executive session—a meeting closed to any “non-members of the senate,” according to USG’s bylaws—for a vote of no confidence regarding Lubitz. The vote was held because some Senators felt she was not following a plan that was “in the best interest of the study body,” according to Brian Mcllvain, USG treasurer and the former senator who initiated the no-confidence vote last spring.

“She had an agenda that was separate than the general direction USG wanted to go,” Mcllvain said over the phone. “I think a lot of people saw what the Senate saw when we made the decision that we did.”

The session ended in a 10-8 vote of no confidence in Lubitz as president, according to the minutes on the USG website. After the vote, two Senate meetings, including the one on April 4, were dedicated to debating whether to also impeach Lubitz, former College of Arts and Sciences Senator Konstantinos Plakas said.

“A few members of her party from who she ran with when she won the presidency actually tried to impeach her and paint her as a villain,” Plakas said in an email interview.

Lubitz was not impeached by the Senate despite the vote of no confidence. Specifics about the impeachment vote are unknown because it was discussed during an executive session.

USG officers would not comment on the matter. Vice President of Academic Affairs Derek Cope said he did not “feel comfortable speaking about this” and Executive Vice President Mallory Rothstein said she “can’t comment on Anna.”

But Lubitz and her friends said they feel this blunder over miscommunication was part of the reason why she lost re-election at the end of the academic year.

“No one came and talked to me about whether or not I even liked rap,” Lubitz said, referring to the students’ interpretation of her actions. “Instead people used this misunderstanding against me for their own political benefit.”

In the end, Lubitz lost the election by a vote of 1,260 to 569 to Adil Hussain. Hussain said the USG office was “unwelcoming” while Lubitz was president.

“Losing re-election was hard,” Lubitz said. “I was happy for those who won, but was still upset because what people were saying about me wasn’t true.”

After the election, she tried to overcome rumors of impeachment and mutiny to keep her reputation intact, an effort she continued while The Statesman worked on this story. While reporting this story, she contacted The Statesman to ensure news of her impeachment would not be published. Plakas also requested his statement be retracted.

“I know this entire situation was really upsetting for Anna even if she doesn’t always like to show her emotions,”  Sheilly Banerjee, one of Lubitz’s closest friends and former Chief of Staff, said.

“I really did try to put the students’ happiness before my own,” Lubitz said. “I tried my best to accommodate all their needs, but sometimes that’s still not enough.”

Lubitz might have lost re-election on the USG level, but she is still trying to stay politically involved. Since her involvement with USG, Lubitz has held the positions of President of the Pre-Veterinary Society and the Vice President at the Student Assembly of the State of New York.

In addition, Lubitz, who describes herself as a feminist, worked closely with the Elect Her program since it began at Stony Brook in 2012 to inspire women to run for public office.

She described how, as result of the Elect Her program, USG saw a 33 percent increase of elected women.

Former USG Vice President Deborah Machalow and Lubitz “spearheaded efforts to make the program happen,” according to Cathrine Duffy, staff assistant to the Dean of Students and associate vice president for Student Affairs.

“Anna has been a great influence on the women of this campus, especially through the Elect Her program,” Banerjee said. “I know for me she personally helped me come out of my shell and encouraged me to do things I never thought I would, like lead my own USG board meeting.”

Dealing with the repercussions of being the former USG president and moving on to dominate the political sphere on the SUNY level are the last of her undergraduate political endeavors before she walks across the stage in her red gown, receives her diploma and moves her tassel to the other side next semester.

“When I look back on all of this, this is my legacy as a student and what a proud legacy it is to be a Seawolf,” Lubitz said.

1 comment

  1. How is it that an article printed on the 18th and updated online on the 19th doesn’t make note that there was also great drama regarding Lubitz and her position in SUNY Assembly. They did not feel confident in allowing her to stay for the rest of the academic year:

    “There was also a special election to permanently fill the position of Vice President of the SUNY SA for the remainder of the 2013-2014 academic year. We are pleased to announce that Logan Kenney (former Director of Strategic Communication) was elected by the general body.”

    http://www.studentassembly.org/2013/11/suny-student-assemblys-fall-2013-conference-wrap-up/

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