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SGA pushes for College’s values

Summer White, Kahlil Epps and Misha Gelnarova are excited to implement their new goals for the College Community. Photo by Mahira Faran
Summer White, Kahlil Epps and Misha Gelnarova are excited to implement their new goals for the College Community. Photo by Mahira Faran

This semester, Student Goverment Association (SGA) has one primary goal — to foster Grinnell College’s core values. These values include social justice, respect, academics, equity and belonging. 

“We all came here for something, and we just want to make sure that something is still here,” said SGA Vice President of Student Affairs Kahlil Epps ’18. 

In the spirit of equity, SGA advocates a policy of proactive representation this semester. 

“I don’t think it’s enough to wait for students to come forward to the student government,” said SGA President Summer White ’18. “Just because you’re not coming into our office or not stopping by our office hours doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be heard.” 

This semester, SGA will rotate the location of their office hours to make them more accessible to larger portions of the student body, and go door-to-door to address the concerns of students who may not otherwise come forward. They also plan on visiting student organizations to discuss their organizational needs, and to encourage groups to register delegates for the Campus Council. Through these efforts, SGA hopes to implement a policy of proactive representation that allows them to represent even more of the student body. 

Vice President of Academic Affairs Misha Gelnarova ’18 has ambitious academic plans for Grinnellians this semester, especially first- and second-years. She hopes to actualize a sort of tutorial unification, in which all first-years complete their tutorials having learned the same skills, ready to begin the rest of their education at Grinnell at the same starting line. 

“Two of the basic values of Grinnell are the academics and social justice,” Gelnarova said. She believes that this tutorial unification program will emulate these values by creating a sense of academic equity among students. For second-years, she hopes to help them feel more comfortable in reaching out to advisors, especially in deciding their majors, recalling that over the course of her second year, advisors were more readily available to declared majors than to potential majors. For the student body as a whole, Gelnarova wishes to compile a comprehensive resource that lists all of the opportunities available to Grinnell students, whether that be research or travel opportunities.   

“Grinnell keeps on talking about how you can do this and that and that, but then we don’t actually have one place where you could go to see what is actually going on this semester,” Gelnarova said.

SGA would also like to spearhead a sexual respect campaign this semester. They are interested in working with SHIC and SHACS, and are considering the possibility of bringing an accessible STD testing resource to campus. The potential campaign would involve sexual education and providing information about the proper usage of various methods of birth control, among other things. At the heart of this campaign lies the notion of sexual respect, which, as Epps said, “is not just about your partner, but also about yourself and how you respect yourself as well.” 

In addition, SGA hopes to expand their efforts to develop programs that foster a sense of belonging among campus members. Such programs may include helping students, especially students’ parents, receive accommodations from the school and from their professors, and implementing pronoun programs to help professors feel more comfortable addressing the use of pronouns in classrooms. One location SGA noticed a prominent sense of loneliness was the Dining Hall. SGA plans to make the Dining Hall a place of belonging, where relationships between students can be more easily formed through the use of conversation cards placed on tables and new table arrangements. 

SGA believes it serves more than a link between the student body and administration. SGA is eager to listen to the concerns of students and to make the campus a better place for everyone. They hopes that their goals this semester reflects their dedication to upholding the values that makes Grinnell such a unique school.   

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