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Najee Rodriguez To Step Down As UPUA President

Najee Rodriguez plans to resign from his position as the University Park Undergraduate Association president, according to an announcement from the organization Thursday afternoon.

Vice President Sydney Gibbard will be sworn in as the next president once Rodriguez’s resignation becomes official at noon on Friday, August 12, according to the organization’s Instagram page. Rodriguez had previously announced that he’d be temporarily stepping down from his position in accordance with his health and well-being, but now, his resignation is permanent.

“On March 31st, 2022, you elected me to serve as your president, an honor which I will forever be grateful for,” Rodriguez wrote in a statement. “I swore an oath to ‘perform, to the best of my ability, the responsibilities and duties that have been entrusted to me.’ However, after much contemplation and self-reflection, I have come to the conclusion that I currently cannot fulfill the duties with which I have been entrusted.”

“While this is not an easy decision, it is necessary,” he continued. “Over the past few years, I have ignored my mental health, which was a perilous decision that had a profound impact on me, especially in these past few weeks. My disregard for my mental health almost resulted in me losing my life, and that was a wake-up call for me. It was a call to action; I want to get better, for myself and for those I care about, and I simply cannot do that if I return to the role.”

Rodriguez went on to encourage students to prioritize their mental health, check on their friends, and to know that they’re never alone.

In the statement, Rodriguez reflected on his time with the UPUA, which also featured a stint as the organization’s vice president prior to him being elected president.

“From combatting student poverty to advancing justice and equity for all students, it is my ultimate hope that I was able to change Penn State for the better — for students who felt like their voices didn’t matter,” he said. “And hey, we made history too, you elected me as the first queer person of color to this position, and that means so much for students who never thought they could operate in a space like student government.”

Rodriguez expressed the utmost confidence in Gibbard as the next student body president, saying he anticipates her being an “excellent representative” of Penn State and an advocate for all students. He believes she’ll continue to be a steward of the values that were emphasized in the duo’s campaign — empathy, equity, and empowerment.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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