Q&A: Former SGA president discusses resignation, future

The Daily News

Malachi Randolph accepts his presidential position during the Student Government Association's inauguration April 17. Randolph released a statement of his intentions to resign as SGA president, only five months into his term. DN FILE PHOTO JONATHAN MIKSANEK
Malachi Randolph accepts his presidential position during the Student Government Association's inauguration April 17. Randolph released a statement of his intentions to resign as SGA president, only five months into his term. DN FILE PHOTO JONATHAN MIKSANEK

Editor-in-Chief Adam Baumgartner spoke with Student Government Association former president Malachi Randolph on Wednesday night. The interview took place before Randolph's formal resignation.

Q:
What were you thinking as you were tweeting these remarks? What was the motivation for it?

A: I am doing an internship for [New York City] Fashion Week and if you know anything about fashion internships, you know how stressful and crazy and how well interns get treated. I was just very frustrated and stressed out with all the work I had to do, so I was stressed over my boss, who happens to be Asian and that’s what lead to the tweets. It wasn’t because he was Asian, I was frustrated. I would have been frustrated with anyone. The fact that he was Asian plays no role.

That’s the motivation for the tweets, I was having a little mini freak out actually, which I have had a couple of those actually this week.

But I should have, obviously, monitored myself and realized that on behalf of more than just myself, if I wasn’t SGA president, no one would probably care, but it doesn’t change the fact that I shouldn’t have tweeted that. So, I am learning a lot through all of this.

Q: So you said even if you weren’t SGA president, you know, it wouldn’t really be appropriate. So what do you think the impact of saying these things as SGA president is?

A: Well I think for a lot of people, it has been that you are speaking either on behalf of your organization or, you know, people have their trust in you. So there is a lot more to be lost as far as, I mean, your integrity or your trust. Where, if I wasn’t an elected official — or you know, if a lot of students weren’t depending on me to do my job — I think that not as many people would have been let down. So it definitely doesn’t change the fact of if it’s wrong or not, but it changes the impact because of what people associate myself and, you know, as you can see, my comments and social media with. So I think that makes it a little more difficult, and it makes the impact a lot, far greater than if I was someone else.

Q: Are you apologetic? Do you feel sorry for the things that you posted?

A: Yeah, I’m still very sorry. I think my statement may not have used those words. It’s been difficult trying to deal with this as well, you know, with the schedule I have and with as much energy and exhaustion that I have in my life so, even though the statement didn’t say that, I am very sorry obviously. And anyone who is here with me, all my friends around here saw me bawling the last couple days. But it’s hurt a lot of people, and it doesn’t just hurt people like the people that felt targeted by the tweets, but it affects people who were let down by my character or my board members who had to deal with a lot of this these last couple days.

So, I’m sorry on all fronts and I’ll say it over and over again. I mean, I don’t have to say I’m sorry, I’ve already resigned, but I choose to because I want people to realize that my actions were wrong — and I realize that, and that’s truly my own, and I’m not trying to blame this on anything or anyone.

Q: What series of events ultimately lead to your decision to resign?

A: I think just the way that the story escalated. It was becoming more hurtful, not only to the SGA image and to my fellow coworkers and stuff and also to the Ball State image. A lot of people were getting affected by it because of the press and stuff. And so once it started to become a distraction, where my coworkers couldn’t get stuff done because people were upset about it, or it was becoming a distraction to the [SGA] Senate, I thought it was best to remove myself from the situation so they could continue with their organization, and I can deal with my problems on my own, as it should be. That’s kind of what it lead to.

For me, it was a very quick decision, obviously, the tweets were out yesterday, and then today we made that decision so there have been a lot of stuff going in these last 72 hours.

Q: What attempts have you made to reach out to multicultural groups on Ball State’s campus?

A: It’s ironic because an Asian is on my slate and is one of my best friends. That should show that I’m not racist in that way. By hanging out with a lot people, I think hanging out with the Big Four. I’m actually friends with actually all four presidents, well three because I don’t know the fourth one that well. So I’m not just in my job, I’m also very good friends with them and they’ve actually consulted with me. ... I’ve been consulting with them during this this process, this issue.

As far as efforts, I fell like I am obviously already involved on a social level with multicultural organizations that I don’t have to make formal efforts to reach out to them, I felt like I belong with them, honestly I feel at home with them. And I’m not just making that up, I know a lot of people think that I am. That’s genuine. And I think that other people, they can speak for themselves, and I know that I love diversity and I’m diverse myself. I think that that’s something I don’t want to be misinterpreted either.

Q: OK, so let’s see, you will be returning to Ball State’s campus soon, won’t you, after Fashion Week?

A: Yeah. I have a week and a half still.

Q: So what concerns do you have for when you return?

A: It will be different. You know, I was spending 50 hours a week working for SGA and for Ball State, in my office and just my life was SGA. So that will be an interesting adjustment, coming back and not having that and having to focus my energy elsewhere. So that will be an adjustment. But also, I hope that people who are hurt, you know, choose to reach out to me or choose to let me reach out to them. I’m not the type of person who likes to be on a bad [side], regardless of if I am SGA president, now it obviously doesn’t matter. I don’t like to be on anyone’s bad list and I don’t like to hurt people or, you know, have people against me.

So I think that will be another challenge as well that I am not particularly looking forward to, but I’ve also had a lot of supportive texts and people, acknowledging that I was wrong and not acting like I was not wrong, but just saying “I understand and everyone makes mistakes” and reaching out to me. And I appreciate it.

Q: So you are studying Spanish and international business, do you have any minors?

A: So my majors are Spanish, marketing and international business and my minor is fashion, but honestly, my minor used to be Asian studies when I was a freshman, and I changed it to fashion.

I knew I wanted to do international studies and travel overseas since I was in middle school. I’ve always loved the different cultures and different languages. I took German and Spanish in high school. I played around with taking Chinese, but it is such a difficult language, and I ended up just taking Spanish.

I’m sorry, you never asked a question and I just kind of rambled.

Q: Sure, no, no, I appreciate you touching on that because I just wasn’t sure. So do you have any concerns about whether or not this will affect your career, or do you think that it will all kind of blow over?

A: I mean, I don’t think it will blow over. It’s too late for it to blow over. To an extent, it already affected my career in that I am no longer SGA president. That’s part of my job and that’s, you know, on my résumé. As far as people looking back and seeing these comments that were made, I hope that people understand now that we all go through stuff and nobody is perfect. I mean, we all do stuff we don’t mean, whether that be over the phone or in a text message. I am just unlucky; I do it a lot more than other people do it. I do it at the wrong times and on the wrong devices. So it was completely, 100 percent wrong but I do think people — I hope people — will understand that we all make mistakes. I cannot have a perfect Twitter. I’m sorry, I can’t. I am going to try a lot harder from now on to be professional and not to express my views in a way that will be considered as racist or even hurtful. I would like to think that people will look past it, but time will tell, I guess.

Q: And is there anything else you would like for the student body to know about the tweets themselves or about how you think you are going to reconcile it — or about your relationship with SGA or about SGA’s relationship with the student body, for that matter?

A: There are two things. First of all, the tweets were not directed to a race. Obviously, the way I worded them was completely awful, and it should not have been worded that way or even any type of racial terms used, but they were in response to an individual. I hope that will help people understand that I was venting over a really tough boss I have. Like I said, it didn’t originate in race issues, and it wasn’t like I was speaking against anyone who has ever lived or has been Asian because if I was, then I would go against everything I’ve ever done. I have been in China, I have lots of Chinese friends, I have a Chinese Weibo — it’s like a Facebook account, so that would kind of go against that. So that’s one thing.

Another one is that I don’t want people to think that me and the rest of the executive board are on different teams with all this. They were supportive, and we had good, honest, open conversations with each other before we made these decisions, even with our adviser as well, and they weren’t giving me the boot, and I wasn’t mad at them or anything. It was a mutual decision. We had to realize what was best for the organization.

Those two things are probably the most misinterpreted from my tweets.

Q: Is there any final statement you would like to make, aside from that?

A: I hope people realize I still love Ball State, and I still will continue to be involved. I’ve been thinking about this, and I will probably be more involved in multicultural activities just because I have more free time, hopefully. So, I just want people to know I have nothing against any race or any sexual orientation or age or sex, at all. So, I just really want people to know that and know that I made mistakes. And I am always going to make mistakes, but I hope I can minimize those in the future and not hurt people.

And also, I want for people to know that I am genuinely sorry because I think maybe people thought I was just shoving it off. The fact I’m having this conversation during my dinner time is indication of that.

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