Two Presidents, One Mission: An interview with Noah Sisk ’21 and Victoria Tara ’21

Ethan Bachand ‘22

Chief News Editor 

Following their election two months ago, the College of the Holy Cross Student Government Association (SGA) Co-Presidents Noah Sisk ’21 and Victoria Tara ’21 completed an interview with The Spire. As this year comes to a close, in combined responses they shared their goals for next year as well as how they plan to interact with the campus.

When asked what their first course of action will be, the Co-Presidents stated: “When we first started the campaign just a few months ago, we never could have imagined how radically each of our lives were about to change. Our planning has naturally shifted as a result, but our number one priority will continue to be representing student concerns in our conversations with administrators and remaining as visible and accessible as possible to all members of our community. We don’t know what kind of campus we’ll return to, but we’re committed to standing for and with students on the issues we’ll all face in the months ahead. Regardless, there are still larger structural changes that we’re excited to work on remotely, like creating the position of a permanent SGA liaison to the Office of Title IX and Equal Opportunity. We’ve already begun that process by meeting with the office’s new director, Derek DeBobes, to talk about the best way to achieve this. So while some initial plans may look different for the time being, our mission to amplify student voices and fulfill our campaign goals remains totally unchanged.”

This theme of adapting continued in the interview, as Noah and Victoria expressed their confidence in being able to adapt their initiatives to a possible online format. When asked if the considered the possibility of a virtual fall semester, the team responded, “Again, we’re still able to work remotely, and over the next few months we’re going to conduct ourselves in a way that will allow us to still be productive regardless of our physical presence on campus. At this point, it’s important for us to think about how we’d begin to host events and initiatives in a virtual format. Regardless, we’re surrounded by a great team and we’re confident in our abilities to serve the student body remotely and when we return to Mount St. James. We’ll also continue to stay engaged with the campus community through social media and through our presence at virtual events and meetings hosted by other groups.”

Alongside their plans for adapting to a possibly virtual platform, the Co-Presidents laid out the changes the plan on making to SGA, saying, “Some of the biggest structural changes that we’re planning to make to SGA consist of establishing stronger collaboration between all branches of SGA with other student groups on campus. We previously mentioned our intention to create a permanent student liaison to the Office of Title IX and Equal Opportunity. We also plan to require our Directors of Athletics and Recreation to have a relationship with the leadership team of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and attend those meetings in order to facilitate a stronger relationship with SGA and more effectively represent the concerns of student athletes.”

They continued their response, stating that, “Additionally, we want to make sure that we aren’t just attending the major events hosted by MSOs, but also their smaller events and general meetings as well. We plan to host regular meetings, potentially on a monthly basis, between us and the co-chairs of all MSOs on campus. We’re also thrilled that next year we’ll have a very strong partnership with our friends on the SGA Senate, in particular with Karter Seitz ‘22 as the new Speaker of the Senate. We intend to take these actions a step further by presenting bills in the Senate to formalize our commitment to further engagement with Title IX, the SAAC, MSOs and RSOs so that future co-presidents will also follow the same course.”       

Besides just the policies they currently have planned, The Spire asked the Co-Presidents elect what they would do if a controversial speaker came to talk on campus, similar to Heather McDonald’s visit last year. They responded by saying, “When we return to campus, we want to prioritize having open conversations and hearing the concerns of all students, even when the subject matter is difficult. Now is a critical time to promote dialogue with the 2020 election just around the corner. Earlier this semester, we had the privilege of attending LASO’s “Exploring the 2020 Candidates” night that created a productive space for students to talk and learn about the different presidential candidates. We were really inspired by the success of this event, and hope to create similar partnerships and spaces for conversation between political groups, MSOs, and RSOs. Nobody wants SGA to tell them how to vote, and SGA will always remain a fundamentally non-partisan organization. However, we want to build on the success of events like this and hope to allow students to learn through open conversation. We know students will always have disagreements, before and after the election. However, we believe that it’s more important to find ways to focus on what unites us as one Holy Cross community.”

While there is uncertainty over what the next few months will bring as it relates to our education at the College, Noah and Victoria both are ready for whatever challenges come their way. When asked what word best describes their plans, they stated, “We wouldn’t be living up to the spirit of our campaign if we didn’t say “real.” What we mean by this is that we want to be as responsive as possible to the issues that impact all students, and we want to deliver clear, concrete results. One example of this is our previously mentioned goal to create a student liaison to the Office of Title IX, or Noah’s initiative as a Senator to improve lighting and safety in areas like the path between Wheeler and Hogan. These are examples of clear action on issues of importance to the student body. However, as we also stated before, the needs and issue areas most important to students will look far different next year as we return to campus. That still doesn’t change our goal of providing real, concrete results while creating a stronger student voice.”

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