BY: ONISSA SANCHO
This is Jermaine Isaac’s second and final term as LIU Brooklyn’s Student Government President. “I’m graduating in May with a degree in Media Arts and going to graduate school for political science at LIU,” says Isaac. With hopes of becoming a lawyer, he credits his time as SGA President as an inspiration.
2011 was his first year assuming the role: “The first day [in office] was a strike,” Isaac recalled. “I’ve seen other presidents go through stress, but when I became president, it got real.”
The teacher’s strike during his first term was like a glimpse into the hardships experienced this year, which was his second term. One student party turned into a huge brawl in the Avena Lounge, which led to the arrests of several LIU Men’s Basketball players. “It was a difficult situation and as a result it damaged our whole semester,” says Isaac. Other disastrous incidents occurred as well, such as Superstorm Sandy crippling NYC requiring the campus to shut down for a few days and the Blackbird Cafe closing due to a failing sanitation grade. “This student government immediately acted,” he said. “We were finding answers the same day that the cafeteria was shut down.”
The passing of several campus community members also strained Isaac greatly. The deceased include students, such as Jason Henry, Marisha Cheong and Benjamin Presley, History Professor John Brennan and Residence Life & Housing Director Dr. Rodney G. Pink, who was a mentor to Isaac. “I attended more memorials than my own family here at LIU Brooklyn,” Isaac said.
“This is not easy, this is not a fun job, it’s a political job and you have to be a servant in this position,” Isaac said. As a student and SGA president the two intertwine, therefore Isaac has to draw a line between them. “My personal life exits at the door, it does not come in [the office]. When I come in here (office) I want to get the work done.”
From the eyes of a student looking in, Isaac believes students think things come easy for members of the SGA. “Some students don’t like us because they think we’re getting all these perks and we’re not,” Isaac said. “Tuition remissions, and free housing,” are the perks he mentioned. “The only other perks are headaches.”
Some accomplishments Isaac would like to be remembered for are student parking, located near the BAM Theater in the GBMC parking lot and raising over $7,000 in scholarships. “I was professional at the end of the day,” Isaac said. “I may have slipped a few times, but I remained professional.”
Former SGA President Ty Christian Joseph influenced and encouraged Isaac to run for office. “I saw Ty as the president and he was a leader he stood on his own,” recalls Isaacs. “He graduated and went off to South Korea, and he’s teaching in Ethiopia now.” Isaac considered Joseph to be a role model because he is an African American male who wasn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone in pursuit of a higher cause. Joseph is now an English Professor in Ethiopia—Isaac gives him credit since it was Joseph’s character that made Isaac think, “I want to be like this guy, but even better.”
“You’re here for the students, that’s the first thing you have to put in your head. Be a chameleon, you’ve got to fit in [on campus],” he said. “When something happens, you’ve got to be ready to say something.”
SGA President Jermaine Isaac’s days in office and as an undergraduate are almost over. This May, he will be a member of the first LIU class to graduate in the Barclay Center. “I just want people to remember that I conducted myself like a president,” he said.