Student Government Association (SGA) Elections saw the highest ever voter turnout with over 1 in 3 students voting to decide student body and respective class councils for the 2016-2017 academic year. Speeches took place in Balfour-Hood Café on March 2, while voting occurred during March 3 and 4 through The Link. The results of the elections were announced at an election results party held in Emerson on March 4.
The SGA Executive Board ran largely unopposed with future Vice President Alexander Gim-Fein ’17, Secretary Joshua Kelly ’17, Treasurer Arielle Klopsis ’18, Programing Council Chair Emma-Kate Metsker ‘17 and Student Alumnae(i) Council Chair Kimberly Nestor ’19 all gaining their respective positions. In the race for SGA President, current Vice President Katherine Elliott ’17 was elected over former ICB Chair Kweku Ampem-Darko ’17.
Ampem-Darko could not attend the speeches as he was studying abroad but had Forrest Sung ’17 recite his speech and outline ideas. Ampen-Darko focused mainly on social changes to Wheaton, as in his letter it said, “What I offer is an opportunity for all of you to have a say in how your school is run.”
Elliot hoped to both improve the parking situations on campus as well as focused heavily on improving the mental health resources, a topic she thinks the campus is far too silent on. “We need to have services on campus where people feel like they are supported and can go there to get the help that they need,” Elliott said during her speech.
Current President Sarah Hilton ’16 is excited for these changes and said that the upcoming SGA Executive Board will need to find issues that matter to them personally. “The upcoming students should always focus on the long term,” Hilton said, “A big part of SGA is finding your own issues at Wheaton that you can make a difference through. I hope the next generations of [student leaders] find these issues for themselves.”
The elections also saw great participation from underclassmen. “There are a lot of new young faces running, especially from the class of 2019,” Hilton said, “I’m excited about the new younger faces who want to run for SGA, and all of the new leadership we have coming up through the ranks. The engagement of the lower classes proves that we have raised our profile on campus as a way to make change.”
Freshman even campaigned at the executive level as Olivia Bennisan ’19 ran against Cynthia Mercedes ‘17 for Intercultural Board Chair. Bennisan said that having a stable ICB Chair for four years could be very beneficial and talked a lot about social justice and getting students to understand the complexities of diversity issues. Current ICB Chair Mercedes focused heavily on the need to stop having superficial ‘sugar-coated’ conversations and take more initiative.
Hilton is pleased with how her term as SGA president has developed and hopes that the newly elected upcoming class can work as effectively as the SGA Executive Board did this year. “I’m incredibly proud of the internal changes we’ve been able to make to SGA this year, I hope the new [Executive Board] continues these working patterns we [have] defined.”