By Cassy Sottile
Joining the plethora of campus adaptations to remote learning, the 2020-2021 Student Government Association executive board was sworn in via Zoom call on April 2.
The new executive board features junior Elizabeth Lilly, president; sophomore Emilee Daniel, vice president; sophomore Josh Gastineau, speaker of the senate; freshman Diana Moneke, honor board chair; sophomore Liz Hay, financial controller; sophomore Kat DeSantis, parliamentarian; junior Will Fifer, secretary of academics; Jada Aristilde, secretary of diversity; freshman Seyed Marjaei, secretary of environment; freshman Maegan White, secretary of service and community relations; junior Isabella Sansanelli, secretary of student life; and junior Veronica Washington, director of communications and marketing.
Junior and business management major Veronica Washington decided to apply for a position in the SGA to “get more involved on campus.”
“I like to spend my free time learning about social media marketing and wanted to see if I could apply what I have learned to the SGA’s social media accounts,” Washington said.
As Director of Communications and Marketing, Washington handles the SGA’s social media accounts, fulfills printing requests from clubs on campus, and records minutes during senate meetings, among other responsibilities.
“I hope to continue the work being done on establishing a new and more efficient printing system for the clubs to use,” Washington said. “I also hope to create a social media strategy that will increase the follower count and engagement with the SGA’s social media pages.”
Sophomore and political science and philosophy double major Kat DeSantis reapplied for her second year as SGA parliamentarian.
“Parliamentarian gives me a purpose on this campus,” DeSantis said. “The work I do as parliamentarian is so meaningful to me because I am able to promote justice, inclusivity, and engagement on campus by writing legislation and hosting competitive elections.”
The parliamentarian is responsible for advertising and running all student government elections, writing legislation for the SGA constitution and by-laws, recruiting senators and supporting the Speaker of the Senate during senate meetings, leading the Constitutional Review Committee, chairing the review board, and facilitating all appointments and hiring of the SGA executive team, according to DeSantis.
DeSantis hopes to create an SGA sponsored Diversity and Inclusion Award for a graduating senior next year.
“I am going to write club constitution guidelines, draft a universal template for contracts, make elections more accessible through the use of campus groups and the addition of a polling place in John S. Toll Science Center, and outlining the responsibilities of senate committee chairs, and write legislation to add the Diversity Statement as a clause in the Constitution,” DeSantis said.
Junior and sociology major Jada Aristilde returned from study abroad to apply to be the Secretary of Diversity and Inclusion.
“After coming back, I received messages from previous leaders encouraging me to apply for the position. I wanted to keep the momentum of initiatives going,” Aristilde said.
As Secretary of Diversity and Inclusion, Aristilde works closely with the Intercultural Affairs office, the Global Education Office, and sits on the diversity committee.
“I believe that diversity comes in all shapes and sizes on campus and that should be celebrated,” Aristilde said.
One goal of Aristilde’s for the next academic year is to have the diversity statement placed somewhere on campus, similar to how the honor code is promoted. She also hopes to continue progress on the diversity initiatives from earlier this semester.
“We do not want these initiatives to get lost or put on the back-burner due to COVID-19 but understand the situation currently. We want to hold the institution accountable within reason,” Aristilde said.
Aristilde encouraged everyone to become familiar with the recently launched I.D.E.A. canvas page, which tracks the progress and diversity initiatives.
“Everyone should responsibility for their actions and help out. It is more than just the clubs on campus that pertain to diversity and inclusion, it is everyone,” Aristilde said.
Freshman and political science and environmental studies double major Maegan White previously served as a senate and committee chair of the constitutional review committee before deciding to apply for an executive board position.
“I realized early on that I wanted to increase my participation in a leadership role,” White said. “I had the opportunity to work with a variety of community leaders in the fall, including working on Councilman Tom Herz’s campaign. Because of my connections with the community, my passion for service and SGA, I determined that secretary of service and community relations was the most suitable position.”
White is responsible for organizing and advocating for service opportunities on campus and serves as the liaison between the student body and the community, particularly the mayor and town council.
One of the main topics White hopes to pursue in her term is the reincorporation of service requirements back into clubs and organizations on campus through legislation which requires clubs to participate in or organize at least one service event for the academic year.
“Service used to be a club requirement but is no longer. I think it is essential that we emphasize service and reincorporate it back into our school. Not only will this improve community relations as our students would be more invested and would more actively participate in the community but it will also foster meaningful connections with our community, which is one of the pillars of our school,” White said.
White is looking into creating a standing list or database where members and organizations of Chestertown and Kent County can reach out with service needs, which will be available for all clubs and organizations.
White is also working with the Secretary of Diversity and Inclusion Jada Aristilde and other SGA members to address the racial bias issues that have been occurring on campus.
“We must work with and push community leaders and members to dedicate themselves to solving these issues, and I want to use my connections and role as secretary to coordinate these efforts,” White said.
Junior and biology major William Fifer was sworn in as secretary of academics. Former tutor in the Office of Academic skills, Fifer is a representative of the student body for academic committees such as Committee of Academic Standing, Academic Resources Committee, and Curriculum Committee.
“As a student myself, I am a lot more familiar with the concerns and grievances that students have and can present those to the faculty,” Fifer said.
Fifer plans to continue the work of his predecessors and get newer furniture for academic buildings and establish a new policy to help the departments communicate better to determine time slots for classes.
“One of the perpetual comments I hear students make is that they constantly have to decide between two or more classes in the same time frame. I hope with my efforts, in the future that will be a less frequent occurrence,” Fifer said.
Sophomore and economics and humanities double major Liz Hay reapplied for her second term as financial controller to continue the projects she started this year.
“I oversee the SGA’s allocation of the student activities fee, which funds the vast majority of club spending on campus, as well as the projects of the SGA executive board,” Hay said.
Hay works primarily with the Senate Budget Committee, the body that votes to recommend semesterly budget and discretionary allocations to the Senate.
The most pressing issue is the budget process for the fall of 2020, which has been adjusted to accommodate the situation of COVID-19, according to Hay, but there are other responsibilities she has.
“My committee and I have spent the last few months revising the budget guidelines to be more comprehensive and clear and were supposed to bring them to the senate after spring break. Since that could not happen, we will be bringing them up as soon as possible in the fall,” Hay said.
Their hope is to make the budget process easier and more transparent for everyone, according to Hay.
Hay’s committee has also been soliciting recommendations for ways to use unspent SGA money to improve the student experience and will bring a list of project ideas to senate for discussion. Hay’s other concern to tackle is diversity with the SGA.
“It is important to note that a goal for the SGA as a whole next year is to support diversity and inclusion initiatives. As students, we suffer when any of our peers are struggling and as an SGA we have the capability to do something about it,” Hay said.
Junior and political science and Hispanic studies double major Isabella Sansanelli also reapplied for her position as secretary of student life because she enjoys working with senior staff to “work towards new goals to benefit the students in the best way possible.”
“Whether it is setting up a new Chef’s Table with Prince and Maria or collaborating with the Washington College Student Athletic Advisory Committee to plan fun sporting events for the fall, it is all a great part of the job,” Sansanelli said. “The individual conversations I get to have with students to improve their student experience I think has by far been the most rewarding of my experience.”
Sansanelli works with all major organizations on campus, including Dining Services, Residential Life, Buildings and Grounds, Department of Public Safety, and Athletics, as well as serving on committees and taskforces such as the transportation task force. Sansanelli recently added Counseling Services to her list of organizations to work with as secretary.
“I want to keep with a lot of the work I laid the foundation for last semester,” Sansanelli said. “It is important to work in the SGA for the students. We work to relay student concerns to senior staff members and work with different groups and organizations to enhance the student experience in the best way possible.”
Freshman and intended math and international relations double major Diana Moneke will be chairing the honor board in the fall semester. As a first-generation college student of various identities, Moneke has a “strong heart of passion, dedication, and motivation to turn injustice upside down and serve justice for all.”
“This honor board position will be one of the founding steps towards creating a legacy to serve this mission,” Moneke said. “The honor code signifies and highlights the school’s initiative of diversifying the social and academic cultures found on campus and serves as a safety net over the students and staff to ensure the rightful justice for all in a safe and successful environment.”
As honor board chair, Moneke presides over hearings but does not vote.
“I serve as the liaison between the honor board and Office of Student Affairs and Provost’s Office to receive referrals and schedule hearings,” Moneke said. “I also act as the primary investigating party in event of office conflicts, violations of SGA and WC policies, and violations of Maryland and federal statutes.”
The newly sworn in executive board begin their terms in the fall semester.
“There is often a culture of negativity on our campus and working with the SGA helps me to channel dissatisfaction or frustration with various things into progress and change. I do not believe that any problems can be solved without teamwork, and this job gives the chance to collaborate with students, faculty, staff, and administration to improve a place that we all love,” Hay said.