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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Meet the SGA executive candidates

All+photos+by+John+Brady
All photos by John Brady

This year’s SGA executive candidates comprise a diverse group of 12 students with a broad range of interests and experiences. Along with traditional focuses such as accessibility, operational transparency and increasing student input, candidates are also interested in areas such as furthering the involvement of the Multicultural Leadership Council (MLC), improving technological accessibility and expanding access to mental health services on campus.

All photos by John Brady
All photos by John Brady

Voting for the positions of SGA President, VPSA and VPAA will begin on Monday, Feb. 17 on PWeb. SGA will also hold a formal debate between candidates on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m. If you have any questions, please reach out to [election] or [sga1].

President

Peter Aldrich ’15

Responsiveness, connectivity and administrative prowess are the central tenets of Aldrich’s campaign for president.

“I think that previous administrations … have made great strides with accessibility,” Aldrich said. “I would not only be in touch with the student body, but also … with administration.”

Aldrich has served as the Presiding Officer of Joint Board (now Campus Council) and in leadership positions in a variety of evangelical Lutheran groups, which he believes have given him the skills necessary to be president.

“I’ve learned SGA best practices at all levels, from internal cabinet affairs to running smooth elections,” Aldrich said.

Aldrich intends to focus on every voice of the student body with ample but measured consideration in all his decisions, if elected.

“I am meticulous about everything that I say,” Aldrich said. “When you’re SGA president, you have to be very intentional about your communication.”

 

Opeyemi Awe ’15

As the current Vice President for Student Affairs, Awe is running for SGA President to continue the initiatives that she helped set in place. Awe highlighted her work with the MLC, in the Town Hall Planning Committee and her fulfillment of campaign promises.

“Last year, I promised to work effectively … to insure that the administration was sincere in addressing issues of sexual assault, and to increase open communication with the administration,” Awe said. “And I did.”

Awe expects that her familiarity with Cabinet dynamics means there will not be a rough transition period and that it will also be a boon when describing how SGA can help students beyond financial assistance. Awe looks forward to leading the discussions regarding Grinnell’s need-blind policies if elected, as she would work diligently to address every side of the Grinnellian experience.

“We need to have a deep conversation with ourselves about what we want to look like 10 years down the line,” Awe said. “It’s cognizant to create a feeling of community and then pay it forward.”

 

Austin Cote ’15

Cote believes that SGA’s highest priority is streamlining its budgetary procedures and finances, thereby providing more opportunities and student access. Drawing on his experiences as an SGA senator, as the captain and coach for the men and women’s water polo teams and his involvement in Student Environmental Committee and ACE, Cote characterizes his bid for the SGA presidency as a way of creating changes that he has not seen in his time here at Grinnell.

“We need to cut off the excess, to trim the fat from our finances,” Cote said. “We’re running short on funds, and we’re finding it very hard to meet the needs of our committees.”

Cote would be willing to take a pay cut in response to SGA’s financial issues. “The president is paid 10 dollars an hour,” Cote said. “I would cut it down to minimum wage.”

As an Eagle Scout, Cote believes that his resilience is a key factor in making him a strong candidate. “I’m the first in my family to go to college. That has made me stronger,” Cote said. “I will never stop going.”

 

VPAA

Peter Bautz ’15

Bautz affirmed that he is ready to tackle long-ranging issues on a platform of innovative solutions if elected VPAA. As the Chair of the Election Board, co-chair of the Reform Committee and long-time peer tutor, Bautz seeks to make a greater impact in daily academic life.

“As Reform Committee Chairman, I have a proven track record with elections, campaigning and tough decisions,” Bautz said.

Bautz wants to consolidate Grinnell’s widespread tutoring services, which he thinks will greatly improve the system.

“There’s math lab, science lab, all these labs and services that have no integration whatsoever,” Bautz said. “Our immense wealth of tutoring systems at Grinnell can be used by more … while still being less of a headache.”

 

Natalie Duncombe ’15

Duncombe, who is active on campus as a varsity volleyball player and Economics SEPC member, wants to implement academic programs focused on technical skills as VPAA. Duncombe, who is currently abroad in France, believes that these experiences provide the best opportunities for Grinnellians.

“Our administration, faculty and Trustees are engaging in the national conversation surrounding how technology can be used to improve the liberal arts experience,” Duncombe wrote in an email to the S&B. “I want to make sure that student voices are heard.”

Duncombe, in addition to other VPAA candidates, would also work on reducing the stress of the end of the semester.

“I think by altering our finals schedule, we can create a better environment for students to put forth their best work,” she wrote.

 

Victor Ghazal ’16

For Ghazal, a VPAA must ensure the viability of a Grinnell degree in the long run, so he will emphasize creating new professional preparation programs for Grinnellians. Ghazal also supports the work of President Kington and Registrar Cheryl Chase to make online registration for classes more accessible.

“One of the changes that I am glad we implemented is the ability to select your courses online as opposed to having to go to the registrar,” Ghazal said. “Online registration would also be great for off-campus students and students that are abroad.”

Ghazal was inspired to run for VPAA to benefit Grinnellians both now and in the future.“I want to make Grinnell a better place, not just for my generation, but for future generations,” he said.

 

Emily Hackman ’16

Hackman has focused her campaign on making SGA more accessible, drawing from her experiences as Vice Chair of SPARC and President of Mock Trial to improve self-government and student funding initiatives.

“SGA needs to change the way that people become involved in student gov,” Hackman said. “It’s really hard for first and second-years to get involved and change how that process works.”

Hackman believes that her experiences managing finances with SPARC make her the best fit for the job. “Our budget is about half as large as SGA’s, which has really boosted my experience on campus,” Hackman said.

If elected VPAA, Hackman wants to insure the longevity of self-governance as a guiding principle for SGA through cooperation and team decision-making.

 

Gwenna Ihrie ’15

Ihrie has centered her VPAA campaign on the importance of need-blind financial aid and reducing the stigma of campus tutoring.

“While [Grinnell was] discussing need-blind admission, I was the only student who showed up consistently over the whole year,” Ihrie said. “I was the student voice who said that we needed to keep need-blind admission.”

Ihrie noted that many students who are unhappy with their grades never ask for help. If elected, she will focus on reaching out to these students and erasing any stigmas associated with tutoring.

“These are large groups that get left behind in terms of being responded to in terms of getting rewarded or getting help, especially for students in the Bs or A-minuses range,” Ihrie said.

 

VPSA

Rosalie Curtin ’15

After transferring from Loyola University Chicago, Curtin decided to run for VPSA to ensure a more positive experience for Grinnellians than she had at Loyola.

“After attending a university in which I was so unhappy, I never want someone to experience that same level of abandonment that I felt,” Curtin said.

Curtin has taken on a wide variety of roles on campus, serving as a two-term SGA senator, a manager of Lyle’s Pub and a member of various SGA committees. If elected, Curtin intends to tackle the issue of campus mental health support.

“My biggest focus is increasing resources for mental health issues,” Curtin said. “Grinnell says that these resources are available, but it takes too long … I will concentrate on changing that.”

 

Iulia Iordache ’15

Iordache said she will call on her experiences as ISO President, liaison for the Office of International Student Affairs and for the Off-Campus Study Office, and as a Rosenfield Grantee to solve problems as VPSA.

“ISO is the second-largest organization on campus, and we have close to 700 members,” Iordache said. “I have had that responsibility for a year, and I’m not afraid of doubling it.”

Iordache wants to address the issue of a perceived hookup culture at Grinnell, and how detrimental it can be to students’ perceptions of healthy relationships.

“We should foster a dating culture that encourages emotional and sexual well-being,” Iordache said. “In the context of Title IX, talking about responsible dating will be essential in improving [student happiness].”

 

Max Mindock ’15

Following on the heels of an unsuccessful bid to amend the SGA Constitution last semester, Mindock is running for VPSA to right what he sees as an unfair allocation of SGA power. Mindock, who is abroad in Sweden this semester, will continue his pursuit of a judicial branch of the SGA.

This is part of Mindock’s larger push to recover administration support for self-governance.

“Over my last three years at Grinnell I have experienced a steady decline in the admini-stration’s trust in self-governance,” Mindock wrote in an email to the S&B.

Mindock plans to utilize his experiences as a two-term Senator, S&B writer and Sports Editor and participant in various SGA committees.

“My experience working for the S&B has taught me how to remain neutral in situations when my personal beliefs may be very strong,” Mindock wrote. “Reversely, my experience within SGA has taught me to be passionate about not only my beliefs, but the beliefs of the student body.”

 

Ham Serunjogi ’16

Serunjogi is running for the position of VPSA to give all Grinnellians a voice and to create a more user-friendly SGA website. Serunjogi, who is the current SGA Technology Coordinator, co-Chair of [Weekend] and vice president of the African and Caribbean Students Union, intends to turn his frustrations into a positive legacy as VPSA if elected.

“SGA needs to insure that there isn’t a single student who feels left out of the Grinnell atmosphere,” Serunjogi said. “I will focus on providing financial support and awareness for multicultural groups, introverts, sub-free and others in the name of diversity.”

Serunjogi aspires to revamp the SGA website by digitizing budget forms and fund appli-cations, utilizing his knowledge of SGA bureaucracy, accountability and technology for the benefit of his peers.

“By making budgeting and funding application forms go online, even if you’re off cam-pus, you can still apply for money quickly and easily,” Serunjogi said.

 

Corrections: A previous version of this article listed the time of the candidates’ debate at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16. The debate will actually occur at 8:30 p.m.

A previous version of this article quoted Ghazal as saying: “One of the changes I intend to implement is the ability to select your courses online as opposed to having to go to the registrar.” The correct quote is: “One of the changes that I am glad we implemented is the ability to select your courses online as opposed to having to go to the registrar.” The article also gave credit to Ghazal for the idea of online registration, when in fact credit belongs to President Raynard Kington and Registrar Cheryl Chase.

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