BREAKING NEWS: Student body president impeached; No communication, new presidency


Photo provided by @coastalsga on Instagram

Coastal Carolina University’s 2022-2023 executive board, including (left to right) President Gabrielle Ryder and now former president Mateo Solana.

New Student Government Association (SGA) President Gabrielle Ryder became the face of the student body Jan. 26 after SGA senators voted last week to remove Mateo Solana from leadership. 


To her knowledge, Ryder is the seventh woman and the youngest individual to serve in the position. During her first full meeting as president, Ryder swore in freshman senator Elisabeth Feichter. 


Solana was impeached on Jan. 23 after he was a no-show at multiple university events that were part of his job. He did not attend SGA’s Jan. 30 meeting to appeal the impeachment. 


Solana was scheduled to speak and listed in the program for the Fall Commencement Ceremony on Dec. 14, but he did not show or notify graduation organizers. Solana also missed the December board of trustees meeting. 


A group of senators in the Ethics and Judiciary Committee investigated Solana and found he had not upheld the duties and expectations of SGA president. The senators voted 10-5 with one abstaining to impeach and remove him from office. 


“It was just very shocking. We all kind of looked at each other,” Vice President of Finance Ryleigh Gregory said. “It was silent for a minute or two. Nobody knew what to say or what to do.” 


Vice President for Student Affairs Yvonne Hernandez Friedman, co-adviser of SGA alongside Dean of Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts Claudia Bornholdt, said she was surprised more than anything by his absence. Hernandez Friedman said she did not know what was going on and was worried about him. 


“He indicated to the senators that there were some family issues that were occurring at that time. And you know, we’re all human and we understand all that,” Hernandez Friedman said. “But I think the biggest challenge is just a lack of communication.” 


Ryder agreed with Hernandez Friedman and said Solana should have communicated better, and the impeachment could have been avoided.  


The SGA president is one of several officers who receive tuition assistance. Because Solana is a South Carolina resident, for his work in the fall he received 75% off in-state tuition. His fall discount was approximately $8,730. It was unclear as of press time whether Solana received a spring stipend. 


“In all of our duties, especially mine, if he’s not able to attend certain things, it is my job to be able to fill in for him,” Ryder said. “But if those things aren’t communicated, then we can’t necessarily do our job.” 


Senior English major Evelyn Scott said she knows of SGA because of their menstrual product project to put free dispensers in the academic buildings around campus. From this project, she said the organization seems to represent students well. However, she did not know about Solana’s impeachment. 


“If you’re going to be the president of this committee that represents students, I feel like you should show up, especially to commencement. That’s a pretty big deal,” Scott said. “And if you’re not going to show up for that, then why are you even our president?” 


During the trial, Solana shared his side of what happened, what he felt, and why he was absent. As the adviser, Hernandez Friedman also shared her piece. Gregory said Solana was open with the entire board and he accepted any responsibility for his actions. 


Freshman intelligence and national security major Josh Koval said he is not aware of SGA’s presence on campus, nor did he know of Solana. 


“In any kind of democratic form, government of any sort. That’s not usually a good thing,” Koval said regarding Solana’s absence. “There should probably be someone reliable there if it is what really connects us to the board of trustees.” 


After attempts to reach out to Solana, he denied The Chanticleer an interview but said there was not much to say other than what the bill of impeachment states.  


Ryder said after she was sworn in, it took her a while to process. 


“I’m very excited to be able to grow and develop relationships with a lot of our faculty and staff on campus,” she said. “I’m excited for a chance for us to really just keep pushing on and seeing what we can do and the things that can come out of SGA this year.” 


As president, Ryder’s goal is to bolster SGA’s presence on campus. She said she plans to visit other campuses, such as the University of South Carolina, to see how their student government works. 


Scott said during her time at Coastal Carolina University, she has not voted in any SGA election. She said she feels like the organization is “closed off.” Ryder said her goal is to combat this issue. 


We don’t want people to look at us as a club because we’re really not. We do so, so much more,” Ryder said. “But in the future, we plan on really putting ourselves out there.”