By Donnie Stephens and Maggie Scanlon
The Student Government Association was pleased to welcome 9 new members through special mid-year appointments during the winter break.
Typically, a few vacancies open up each year with SGA when sitting members go abroad/away, or step down for a variety of reasons. In these cases, the SGA bylaws state that the co-presidents can appoint students to fill the vacancies. This year, when we found out we had 9, we knew we needed to formalize a process to make the selection process as fair as possible.
In the wake of an SGA-wide conversation last semester regarding diversity within SGA, culminating in a town hall on the topic, the SGA decided to put in place an application process to fill the vacancies that would reach a wider range of HC’s student body. SGA leaders reached out to various faculty members and offices around campus, including the Donelan Office of Community Based Learning, the Office of Multicultural Education, and the Office of Diversity, to ask for nominations of interested and qualified students who otherwise have not had the chance to use their talents in student government. We also met with individuals one-on-one, held informational lobby tables, and communicated with the campus prolifically about the unique opportunities to join SGA mid-year.
This effort resulted in the submission of 36 applications from talented, diverse, and qualified individuals. A committee comprised of the leaders of each SGA branch plus the SGA Officer of Diversity conferred to select the applicants based on a merit system. It is our pleasure to welcome the nine new appointees to student government: Tom Carissimi ‘18, Class of 2018 Senator; Darwin Contreras ‘21, Senator-at-Large; Adeline Gutierrez Nunez ‘19, Class of 2019 Senator; Jordana Irzyk, Class of 2021 Senator; Liam Lewis ‘21, Senator-at-Large; Anny Thach ‘20, Senator-at-Large; Delaney Wells ‘20, Senator-at-Large; Joe Cataldo ‘18, Solicitor General; Isabella Mongelli ‘19, Class of 2019 Vice President.
This intentional and inclusive application process was a direct result of the discussion on diversity in SGA that took place last semester. Recognizing that SGA has historically, and especially this year, been comprised of individuals that come from a similar socioeconomic and racial background, SGA has committed to the following steps to open up pipelines into student government for more types of students:
- We have established a $500 fund for co-presidential candidates to use on campaigning activities, starting with this year’s election cycle. We believe that this financial support will make campaigning more vibrant, encourage more students to run for the position, and eliminate cost prohibitions for students who otherwise would not be able to run for the position.
- In order to foster cultural competency, SGA members will be actively participating in Unity Week programming with the broader campus community as well as continuing to incorporate diversity training and cultural events into its yearly calendar.
- The SGA will encourage more types of students to run and apply for SGA positions by educating faculty advisors on how to join Student Government. This way, first year students will be encouraged and supported by faculty advisors from the beginning to get involved in a variety of positions on SGA, including our internship/clerkship program. SGA will also look to do an info session during the Passport and Odyssey Programs.
- We will support MSOs by naming the SGA Directors of Social Justice and the Officer of Diversity as SGA liaisons to those groups, in addition to support from their liaisons in the SGA Senate, and support their major events with an SGA presence.
- We will keep and record demographic information on the candidates and applicants for SGA office, so that we can better know which types of students are not joining SGA, and that we may invite them to do so in the future.
If you have any suggestions or feedback for this agenda, or if you’re interested in joining student government yourself, we want to hear from you! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by our office at Hogan 220 to share your thoughts and ask your questions.