Tyshawn Jenkins, a College alumnus who graduated in December 2004, quietly dropped off a DVD at the Roscoe L. West library a few weeks ago. However, he was not returning it to avoid a late fee – he was adding it to the library’s collection. Everyone had been asking about it, he said, and he wanted to see what would happen if the entire student body had access to it in the media room.
Jenkins filmed the documentary, called “The Resolution,” himself. It captures the Oct. 27 Student Government Association meeting and ensuing Black Student Union (BSU) meeting that challenged and affirmed, respectively, the leadership of SGA executive president Pedro Khoury. It is sprinkled with what Jenkins calls Michael Moore-type commentary and finishes with student interviews, including one with Khoury.
“The movie wasn’t made to hurt anyone’s feelings or to make the College look bad or to exalt the president or to make myself look good or bad,” Jenkins said. “Race issues seem to happen quite frequently and are covered up.”
Stefanie Nieves, junior psychology major and SGA alternate student trustee, watched the film with Khoury.
“I feel that some portions of the real meeting were left out that should have been left in,” Nieves said. “Overall though, I feel that both sides were portrayed well, and the most important side – the students – were given the most attention.”
Except for in a short portion of a BSU meeting, the resolution’s supporters did not have a voice in the film. None were interviewed in the commentary at the end. Jenkins said he tried unsuccessfully to get SGA members to speak with him and added they had their chance to speak in the general body meeting.
“He didn’t come to me or other executive board members he portrayed as sinister or co-conspirators,” Lee Whitesell, sophomore philosophy major and senator of culture and society, said. “They didn’t film any of my attempts to explain why it was a perfectly legitimate thing for the senate to do.”
Whitesell sponsored the no confidence resolution and was one of two SGA members to explain his position at the BSU meeting addressing the conflict.
“If race was an issue, I would not have supported the resolution,” he said.
Whitesell said the film captured the most interesting meeting he had ever been to. He said he would not recommend it to new SGA members.
“The ones not scared away will be expecting a lot more excitement than they’re going to get,” he said.
Nieves said the documentary is an important piece of the College’s history.
“I don’t think a controversial meeting like this, or any other SGA meeting, has ever been recorded in the past,” she said. “In my opinion, documents like these are important, useful and necessary for the growth of any organization in order to learn and plan for the future.”
Multicultural courses at the College discuss the film, Jenkins said. Freshman Spanish and elementary education major Eliana Reyes, who helped Jenkins package the DVDs, remembers her classmates debating whether or not the resolution was a race issue.
Jenkins sold copies last semester at $10 a piece to students, professors and people with similar experiences at a conference in Virginia. He raised over $200 for a scholarship for his former high school in Asbury Park.
“What gave you the drive to want to go to college? Who had the most influence on you? What are your plans as far as staying in college, especially coming from Asbury Park?” he asked on the scholarship application. Seventy-five to 100 students responded. Jenkins said he is going to read each essay.
“The reason was not to make money,” Jenkins said. “I was coming from an outside point of view and let the people at the College know the whole side if they weren’t present at the meeting.”
In his first time ever making a DVD, Jenkins, who majored in graphic design, used Photoshop, Final Cut, DVD Studio Pro-3 and Illustrator to produce “The Resolution.” He told a professor he felt strongly about the SGA situation, used the video as part of his thesis and got an A.