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SGA candidates prepare for election

By Stephen Gruber-Miller

SGA executive elections are next week and the candidates are eagerly stepping up to address a variety of campus issues, such as transparency in student government and sexual misconduct. The candidates attended an open forum in Lyle’s Pub on Tuesday where they spoke with students about their positions.

The eight students running for three SGA positions pose in the Pub.

This year, there are eight candidates running for three positions. Chloe Griffen ’14, Thomas Neil ’14 and Sam Offenberg ’14  are running for SGA President. Opeyemi Awe ’15, Max Herzberg ’14 and Eric Mistry ’14 are running for Vice President of Student Affairs (VPSA). Remy Ferber ’14 and Sam Mulopulos ’14 are running for Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA).

Every candidate has expressed the need for transparency and inclusivity in SGA, and for a campus-wide conversation about sexual misconduct.

As a candidate for SGA president, Chloe Griffen ’14 feels that, if elected, she could be a resource to encourage Grinnellians to become more involved in campus decision-making, especially for students who would otherwise be too uncomfortable to speak up.

“[SGA] has to be more than a place where we hand out money,” she said, addressing the perception that SGA’s primary responsibility is passing budgets rather than communicating with students.

Griffen said her experiences on the SGA cabinet as All Campus Events Coordinator, her involvement with the Multicultural Leadership Council, and her job as an overnight host coordinator have provided the skills that she will use as president.

“Pulling skills from everything I’ve done has prepared me for this position,” she said.

Most of all, Griffen emphasized that she represents the entire student body and wants Grinnellians to reach their full potential.

“I think senators have a lot more power than they know they have,” she said, noting that she will help them represent their constituents more effectively.

Thomas Neil ’14 displays different priorities, as his policy towards substance use demonstrates. In addition to serving on the Harm Reduction, Student Life and Rosenfield committees, he is the founder of Students Lobbying Against Prohibition (SLAP) and the sponsor of a recent student initiative, which would change the College’s policy so marijuana use would be punished no more than alcohol use.

He noted that the current policy encourages alcohol use over marijuana.

“A student who is underage is not allowed to drink alcohol; a student who is underage is not allowed to use marijuana. Frankly, we should not be pushing them towards alcohol. That’s causing a lot of the problems on our campus,” Neil said.

Neil wants a unified Grinnell substance use policy that would go through SHACS rather than through student affairs or Judicial Council.

Student health is Neil’s main concern. He wants to improve the availability of SHACS for students, reducing waiting times and increasing their capacity to meet demand. “My substantive goal: add a counselor,” he said.

At a student advisory committee for sexual misconduct, Neil suggested serving food at Harris and keeping the building open after parties, two changes that have been implemented to help reduce the emphasis of alcohol at parties. He also wants to provide more non substance-related activities on campus, like comedians, that he said would increase unity and provide alternatives to parties.

He also mentioned reforming Joint Board to encourage attendance and creating more of an online SGA presence that would include a clubs list and a way to apply for SGA funding.

The third presidential candidate, Sam Offenberg ’14, is abroad this semester in Jordan. Like Neil, Offenberg’s platform prioritizes an overhaul of the sexual misconduct policy and increased mental health services and SHACS availability, he wrote in an email. Additionally, he mentioned the need to support multicultural groups on campus, especially in light of Michael Benitez’s recent departure from as Director of Intercultural Engagement and Leadership.

He said his own experiences on campus have been diverse. “I have been able to take an active role in everything from athletics, student staff, Joint Board as a senator and in sexual assault prevention as a leader of Real Men,” he wrote.

In particular, Offenberg believes that his role in Real Men has strengthened his desire to prevent sexual misconduct and emphasized that informed student opinion is one of the keys to prevention.

“My first goal is to work with President Kington and other administrators to gain insight into the tangible changes taking place and make sure the student body remains informed on these issues from the very beginning of my term,” he wrote.



Opeyemi Awe ’15 is running a campaign that focuses on three goals: making sure the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is staffed and has support from the administration, explaining and simplifying the SGA funding process and creating a web platform for SGA.

“I think it’s actually sort of irresponsible in a lot of ways that SGA does not have a consistent and coherent presence online,” Awe said. She noted that increased online communication would give students convenient access to information and could streamline Joint Board.

Awe is currently an SGA senator and has experience with the Student Programming Committee and Student Enrollment Committee. She said she takes an active role in campus affairs by attending open forums and speaking with students. Her experiences have given her the knowledge and awareness to serve as VPSA, she said.

Awe says she will be tireless in representing students.

“I want to encourage students who feel underrepresented,” she said, speaking especially of first generation and minority students.

“When people are like ‘you know this is going to take over your whole life’ that actually brings me joy,” she said.

For Awe, SGA needs to be based in action, not just conversation.

“I love being at a school where you see something you don’t like and you have the agency and the support structure to change it,” she said.

The main issues for Max Herzberg ’14, as a candidate for VPSA, are harm reduction and using self-gov as a positive force to create community.

Herzberg also expressed his support for harm reduction, an issue that is important to all the candidates. He is a member of the Harm Reduction Committee and has been involved in trying to enact change, but he said he recognizes that more needs to be done.

“The Harm Reduction Committee is working hard, but needs to work harder and come up with some solutions when it comes to alcohol-related emergencies and sexual assault on campus,” he said. He believes these problems need to be addressed at an institutional as well as a cultural level.

Herzberg’s plan for self-gov ties in with his harm reduction stance. He explained that as VPSA, he will emphasize self-gov as a way to create a positive community, rather than simply to react to a crisis.

“One of the ways to do that is to create a very concrete prevention program that’s alcohol education as well as active bystander education,” he said. He will also search for ways for students to reach out to get involved in the City of Grinnell as well as to further expose community members to concerts and events on campus.

Eric Mistry ’14, who is also business manager of the S&B, is running on a campaign of increased communication and discussion. Mistry wants to make sure that students know everything that SGA is involved with, both in committees and in discussions with the administration.

“I feel like right now there’s kind of a gap between what goes on in the duties and what the general student body knows, and I want to fix that as VPSA,” Mistry said. He plans to use his past experience as S&B Business Manager to promote discussion through the newspaper and through open forums and events. Herzberg has proposed similar events.

Mistry said communication experience is a strong suit of his. In addition to working with the S&B and SPARC, which he noted is unique among the candidates, he works in the Office of Communications and has served as an SA. He also wants to be seen as an approachable figure.

“I’m really open to meeting and talking to anyone about anything,” he said.



Remy Ferber ’14 is one of only two candidates for VPAA this year. She is currently studying abroad in Berlin, but has outlined her campaign strategy via email and through her on-campus proxy, Robert Logan ’13.

Ferber’s platform is three-pronged. Her first priority is to address the stress on campus. Stress falls under Student Affairs at Grinnell and events like Puppies and Pancakes and Wellness Fairs during finals week don’t deal with the root of the problem, Logan said.

Her goal is to cooperate with the administration to figure out ways to reduce stress on campus.

“I aim to review scheduling, ideally on a divisional level and how we can preemptively combat stress throughout a semester before the pressure-packed exam week,” Ferber wrote in an email.

The second part of Ferber’s platform is increased transparency of Judicial Council and the College Hearing Board (CHB). Having served as presiding officer of JudCo and as a member of CHB, she organized a mock judicial council to show students what types of questions are asked and what the process is like.

Her efforts are more relevant due to the ongoing conversation about sexual misconduct on campus. “As sexual assault policy changes, it is increasingly important for students to understand the adjudication process on campus,” she wrote.

The creation of an Environmental Studies major is also one of the goals of Sam Mulopulos ’14. Mulopulos is the founder of the Environmental Studies and Policy Studies SEPCs. He sponsored a successful student initiative last fall that outlined a proposal for how an Environmental Studies major would be created.

“This college talks so much about the environment and about sustainability and then when it comes time to actually do something about it, we’re noticeably deficient,” Mulopulos said. He would like to add an introductory course for environmental studies and will fight to hire another professor.

Mulopulos is also eager to enact a student mentorship program that would help third and fourth year students teach self-gov to first years. He thinks that self-gov should be taught right away so that everyone has the same understanding of it.

In his opinion, students are best equipped to educate their classmates.

“You would be surprised, I think, by the lack of the knowledge this administration has about some of the problems on this campus. I don’t think that it’s really the role of the professor to teach self-gov. I think it’s the role of the student,” he said.

Experiential learning is his final priority, Mulopulos said. He explained that his experience as an SGA senator, co-president of Model UN, and dining hall student leader will help him enact these policies and qualify him for VPAA.

Elections will be beginning at 5 p.m. this Sunday. The polls will remain open until 5 p.m. Monday.

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