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The Scarlet & Black

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SGA plans to prioritize diversity, inclusion, accessibility, engagement heading into next semester

The 2019-2020 school year has officially started, and so has the time in office for this year’s Student Government Association (SGA) cabinet. This week, members of the cabinet spoke with The S&B to introduce themselves and talk about their plans and hopes for the upcoming semesters.

“I think this year is going to be a really good year. I’m excited for all the projects we have coming down the pipeline,” said Treasurer Amanda Weber ’21. Weber, an English and computer science double major, started working for SGA as a senator during her first year and last year served in cabinet as Assistant Treasurer.

She explained that her love for organization and spreadsheets is what drove her to the position of Assistant Treasurer and now Treasurer. She’s looking forward to helping represent “every single student on this campus.”

The importance of representation and inclusion seem to be a common sentiment held by this semester’s cabinet members.

Fall semester Diversity and Outreach Coordinator (DOC) Tucker Haddock ’21 said, “People have just been underrepresented in these spaces. I want us to be remembered as the cabinet that brought those people into the room and made sure that they had a seat there while we were gone.”

From Dublin, New Hampshire, Haddock is a biology and gender, women’s and sexuality studies double major. One of their big plans for this upcoming semester is to create a “low-income student guide,” which would potentially be edited by different students in order to provide support for others on campus. In addition, they are testing the potential of a DOC newsletter for improving SGA outreach and increasing participation in SGA matters from the student body. Haddock’s position will be filled by Syamala Gumidyala ’21 in the Spring.

Fall semester All Campus Events (ACE) chair Amelia Zoernig ’21 has a similar goal. She wants to open up spaces beyond just the Harris and Gardner party venues for new groups and host events that might not have happened in the past. Zoernig and Lana Katai ’21, who is abroad in China and will be serving as ACE chair in the Spring semester, want to work closely with multicultural groups.

Zoernig said, “[We want to be] intentional with how we’re prioritizing events … a generic Harris [party] should not take precedent in Harris over a cultural event.”

Zoernig, a sociology major, previously worked as a Student Leader at the Dining Hall and currently works for Grinnell Advocates, which she says is “one of the most important things for her.”

Vice President of Student Affairs (VPSA) Saketan Anand ’21 is looking for ways to improve well-being on campus for students of all class years as well as “programming in diverse and inclusive spaces.”

Anand is an economics and Spanish major from Mumbai, India. Before getting elected to serve in the cabinet, he directed Tiny Dorm and worked in Freesound, as well as performing in the Latin American Ensemble. Outside of SGA, he has a band called “Sorry We’re Late.”

This year, Anand wants to focus on the non-medical aspects of how students can “feel good.” “How do we support students before something happens to them? … How do we take on wellness as a community charge?” he said.

These are some of the questions he will focus on, reflecting especially on how Community Advisor positions could be improved both in their application processes as well as their execution. On the subject of programming, Anand believes that Grinnell’s student life should not be limited to its physical campus, and is thinking about potential ways to connect with other campuses and their student life.

Working hand-in-hand with Anand is the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Gracee Wallach, a fourth-year from the Chicago area. Wallach, a Sociology major and policy studies concentrator, started working on her goals for the year since last semester. She worked closely with Professor Caleb Elfenbein in order for a new class, Decolonizing Curriculum, to be offered and taught by him.

Wallach wants to “create a system for addressing racism and bias in the classroom,” encourage and facilitate student research, and improve student feedback with professors. Additionally, she wants to empower SEPCs so they can have more influence in the student experience within classrooms.

“I’m excited about making academics a topic of conversation at Grinnell and encouraging people to think and speak critically about it,” she said.

Last but definitely not least, Regina Logan ’20, president of SGA, said, “I would love people to be able to look at this cabinet and see that we left SGA better than it was when we found it.”

Logan, an economics major and policy studies concentrator from Portland, Oregon, discussed how she wants to encourage students to engage in SGA. Before being elected president, in previous years Logan served as a senator, as well as Reform Committee chair, ACE chair, and DOC.

“I ran [for President] because … my biggest goal for the year is to really strengthen SGA as the legitimate and independent representative voice of students,” she said.

Logan believes that this year’s cabinet will strengthen the relationship between students, staff and administration, saying, “I think everyone on this cabinet has a get-it-done attitude … this cabinet doesn’t really think there’s any other option except to do our jobs.”

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