By Kristen Maikoo
Student Government Association (SGA) held their first debates for 2016 candidates yesterday night. Here are some highlights. SGA Presidential candidates Misbah Khan, Ella Hill and Peyton Ellis addressed topics such as inclusivity, communication and connecting with groups at other colleges.
Khan was the first to speak on improving communication between the SGA board and the student body, though other candidates also believe in its importance. Khan also mentioned a goal of being more aware of campus events and organizations, and communication pertaining to them. Khan has been the treasurer, secretary and is now president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA). She was also the treasurer of Hispanic Organization for Leadership Achievement (H.O.L.A.).
To promote inclusivity, Ellis brings up the importance of individuals. “I want to make SGA a lot more accessible. We do have Whaddya Want Wednesdays, but I want to make them more frequent and I want to make town hall a more inclusive environment so that it’s not just seven people standing on a stage, but the focus is more put on the people in the other chairs–you guys, as the audience.” Ellis wants to establish a welcoming “safe space,” in which students can feel free to contact any SGA officer. Ellis has worked with Rotaract, was the president of her first year class and is currently the SGA treasurer.
Hill mentioned a partnership between the new Director of Diversity, Dr. Hines-Gaither and the Committee on Community as well as “clear communication between different student groups as well as individuals on campus.” Once a month, if elected, Hill wants to meet with class representatives and the classes to discuss concerns. Having worked heavily on community service since her first year, Hill wants to promote the presence of Salem College in the Winston-Salem community via community service projects. She was the executive finance board director, vice president of her first year class, worked with Admissions and is currently the SGA secretary.
Candidates were asked what their first order of business would be if elected president. Khan would work on strengthening communication between the SGA board, organizations and students. Ellis said, “If we don’t have a blueprint for change, we’re not going to be able to do it successfully” in reference to heeding students’ ideas on how to address issues on campus. Hill said, “I’m really passionate about networking with our alumnae” and hopes to facilitate events to engage former and current Salem students.
Purva Trivedi, Krys Gidtrey, and Chelsey Koch are running for vice president, however only Koch attended the debate, as Trivedi as studying abroad. Koch is currently the president of the junior class. She also mentioned the communication between SGA board and the student body. “I know that What Do You Want Wednesdays are wonderful but at the same time I feel like they’re not utilized by the student body as well as they could be.” Koch believes that something more could be done to invite student feedback beyond What Do You Want Wednesdays. She has experience in heeding others’ problems as well as being part of Legislative Board, over which the SGA vice president presides.
Running for SGA Secretary, Sarah Vick is passionate about communication; she is the current Editor-in-Chief of The Salemite, and thus part of the Publications Board. Vick has ideas for alternate ways of disseminating information to the student body, such as sharing infographics via the Student Center media wall and email. When asked how she would promote Salem events and organizations to surrounding campuses, Vick mentioned having contacts at Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State University. “I think that getting more information out about events in those newspapers and student publications would really help increase visibility and community involvement and interaction,” she said.
Eva Andrews and Channy Jordan-Grier are running for SGA Treasurer. Jordan-Grier addressed how allocation information is disseminated to students. Both candidates believe that there should be more transparency regarding allocation information and funding for organizations. Andrews said, “I feel like the treasurer just sort of does their job and that’s it,” however she believes that the treasurer should be more involved with the board. Both candidates have worked with finances at home. Jordan-Grier has experienced the financial processes of different organizations.
Shanae Heath and Semi Rivas are running for Honor Council Chair, however only Heath attended the debate. Heath would like to make the campus aware of Honor Council and how to avoid facing Honor Council. She would work to increase attendance at programs, such as Self-Correcting Quill. Heath is used to being part of a team and is willing to help with Board events and tasks.
Having been part of Judicial Council for two years, Alex Harris is running for Judicial Council Chair. Harris would work closely with Residence Life staff and first years to ensure that they are aware of the alcohol policy and the consequences. When asked about social media and Judicial Council, Harris addressed having social media training along with the alcohol policy training with first years. In response to how ResLife addresses issues with students, Harris responded, “I don’t think it’s something I can fix by myself. The main thing I can do as Judicial Council Chair would be to go off of precedent but also talking to RAs to make sure that they’re equally looking out for people.”
Karina Gonzalez and Erika Metzler are running for Sustainability Chair, however only Metzler attended the debate, as Gonzales is studying abroad. Metzler is a member of the Eco Club, and as the president of Salem College Democrats, she has experience with reaching out to students and faculty for ideas. She would plan to work with the Eco Club, Salem Garden and FRN.
“To me [Sustainability Chair] is a middleman,” she said. “…between great ideas from anybody whether they’re in a club like Eco Club and can directly take action and just anybody who might not be involved in those…”
Running for Secretary/Treasurer of Campus Activities Board (CAB), Caroline McMahon is the CAB Publicity Chair and worked on running Formal. She said, “I want to make sure everybody knows they can email CAB with anything that they want to say or any ideas or concerns, compliments are welcome, too.” In terms of budgeting, McMahon has managed her own finances and hopes to consult with members who have previously held the position regarding budgeting. She would plan to keep the board updated on the budget. Also, “I want people to suggest things because we want to reflect the campus.”
Imani Brown is running for Judicial Board Secretary. Brown would strive to email the most important information in the least amount of emails. Regarding working with Judicial Chair to host programs on campus, Brown would like to see a focus on gaining more information about alcohol and students.
Voting begins on March 9.