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The Scarlet & Black

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SGA elects president and VPAA for 2024-25

Kyla Miller `25 will serve as the 2024-2025 president of Grinnell’s Student Government Association (SGA) and Ziana Benjiman `25 will serve as the 2024-2025 SGA vice president of academic affairs after winning the executive cabinet and student initiatives election, held over March 11 and 12. Three student initiatives, “Noyce Art Landmarks,” “Massage Chairs and Bean Bags around Campus!!” and “Revamp the Bear Student Lounge,” were additionally approved during the election. In an all-campus email sent on March 15, Astrid Utting `27, the current SGA oversight, ethics and elections chair, wrote that 794 students voted in the election, an increase from 491 votes the previous year.

Kyla Miller `25 was elected as the president of Grinnell’s Student Government Association. (Meilynn Smith)

As SGA president, Miller will serve as “the chief liaison between SGA and the student body” as well as “the chief representative of SGA to the administration, faculty, student body, Board of Trustees, other colleges and community organizations,” per the Grinnell SGA website. In an email to The S&B, Miller wrote that her goals for the presidency include improving the quality of Grinnell College student life beyond academics. “I want Grinnellians to feel united and not only focus on their academics, but also their engagement with others and the College as a whole,” she wrote.

Miller also wrote that she hopes “to work closely with students to see what the best moves for the student body would be … [and] to work just as close with admin to make sure that these hopes and plans aren’t simply ‘swept under the rug.’” Miller has no prior experience as a member of SGA, but she served as the 2023-2024 co-spokesperson of the Black Student Union along with Benjiman, an experience that informed both of their campaigns. 

“I decided to run for VPAA because I found myself upset with academic life here,” wrote Benjiman in an email to The S&B. “I have experienced having to conduct call to actions in the middle of [the] school week due to hate crimes while neither my peers nor professor recognized my personal grief. I have wrestled with my own personal and mental health issues that were only exacerbated by academics. I think going through so many experiences here that aren’t just singular or one-off situations but shared anxieties, stress and pressure, lit a fire under me to change.”

Ziana Benjiman `25 was elected vice president of academic affairs. (Meilynn Smith)

As vice president, Benjiman’s role will focus on being an academic representative to administrators on behalf of students. To increase the accessibility of SGA, Benjiman wrote, “I hope to host open hours, tabling, meetings and other fun activities to get students engaged.” 

The three approved student initiatives, are currently in the earliest stages of their implementation. “Currently, I am ensuring students are connected with the relevant departments so they can work together to plan implementation,” wrote Utting in an email to The S&B. 

The implementation of the “Noyce Art Landmarks” initiative will consist of an annual student-led art proposal contest. The winning student will be given a budget of $2,000 to install an original art piece within the Robert N. Noyce `49 Science Center. The “Massage Chairs and Bean Bags around Campus!!” initiative was approved with a budget of $2,720 for the purchases of massage chairs and bean bags, which will be placed in the Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC), Burling Library, Noyce Science Center and Charles Benson Bear `39 Recreation and Athletic Center. The “Revamp the Bear Student Lounge” initiative was approved for a $2,180 budget that will cover the purchases of new furniture and entertainment technology, including a television and Nintendo Switch gaming system, for the Bear Recreation and Athletic Center. 

The ballot also included a student poll, “Race and Environmental Awareness Graduation Requirements,” which proposed removing the required half-credit First Year Experience course and replacing it with two four-credit Race and Environment requirements. More students voted in support of the poll than against it, with 52% of polled students voting in support and 48% voting against. As a poll instead of an initiative, these results will not have any consequences on student life in the upcoming year. “The results of the poll may be used by the student who submitted it as a source of data on student opinion, but they are not required to be explored or implemented by the school,” wrote Utting. 

Students interested in proposing their own initiatives or polls will be able to do so during the 2025-2026 election process. “Student Initiatives will open again next year, likely following a similar process,” wrote Utting. “Student Initiatives are a tradition at Grinnell that are written into the SGA bylaws.”

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About the Contributors
Nora Kohnhorst
Nora Kohnhorst, Staff Writer
Nora Kohnhorst is a third-year history major from Queens, NYC. This is her first semester as a staff writer, but it is her third semester at The S&B. She is a retired bread baker and active knitter. She also works at the Stew Makerspace in downtown Grinnell!
Meilynn Smith
Meilynn Smith, Staff Photographer
Meilynn is a first-year from Vancouver, Washington. She is an intended biology major and wants to go into physical therapy in the future. She enjoys playing soccer, hanging out with friends, going on hikes, and photographing wildlife. 
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