By Victoria Gill-Gomez
The Washington College student body elected their Student Government Association Class Officers Tuesday, Sept. 28 through a CampusGroups voting link sent out via email.
Sophomore Class President Jonah Nicholson said that even with his past student leadership positions, he enjoyed the chance “to advocate for students, use my voice to make a change, and get to know the world around me a whole lot better.”
Many of the candidates, who come from previous high school leadership positions, said that the number of responsibilities has grown since entering college. These new responsibilities mainly focused on handling a larger budget and the opportunity to have a more hands-on experience with peers.
“As a class officer, though, you have to represent a large group of people from all different backgrounds, with different interests, and different concerns,” Sophomore Class Treasurer Dylan Snow said.
Snow held the same position last year and returned to it because he realized that most students are not aware of what happens with the SGA budget. He hopes to continue to provide more accountability to the SGA within the budget process.
“Being a class officer is what you make of it. In the past, it has been mostly a symbolic position, but we’ve been working to get more responsibilities so that we can best lead and represent our class,” Snow said.
Nicholson said that transparency is a key aspect in their responsibilities. According to him, this experience allows the officers to have more autonomy and accountability over their goals.
“You want to make sure that everyone around you is aware of your intentions, goals, and the things going on in the environment you are in,” Nicholson said.
Currently, Nicholson wants to increase student awareness of and involvement in mental health, as he said it should always be checked on with “semester work piling up, unjust deaths of Black people, and students being split between job and classes.” Thus, there needs to be an opportunity to de-stress.
He hopes to collaborate with Counseling Services to execute his mental health awareness goal.
Freshman Class President Grace Apostol ran on a similar platform as Nicholson, advocating for students dealing with chronic health issues. As someone who herself manages Chronic Migraines, Functional Gait Disorder, and other mental health disorders “many of those in the chronic health community have been overlooked, and I want my peers to know I am looking at them, and I will shout at the top of rooftops for them. I also want those who do not deal with this personally to know how to help those around them as well as to also be a voice for them.”
Even though the online semester includes challenges regarding communication, community, and change, Nicholson said he is positive it will all work out.
“Digital doesn’t equal impossible,” Nicholson said.
To begin his platform of transparency, Nicholson hopes to create a class cabinet in the near future that will provide more positions for the Class of 2023, which would be directed to specific areas on campus to improve the relationship between the students within the College community.
“It’s not just the class officers but the entire sophomore class,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson and Apostol, they both want to use online platforms for the entire student body to come together, learn about each other’s passions, advocacy efforts, and listen in order to implement change.
As a freshman, Apostol said she is excited to work with upperclassmen to bring attention to different topics that the College needs to address.
With the immense social maelstrom that the nation faces right now with racial injustice, according to Junior Class President Mason Drummey, he is looking forward to seeing how the student body can harness the positive momentum and activism seen around the country and implement it in Chestertown, and at WC.
“I went to the Chestertown Leadership Panel last Monday and was optimistic about the coming changes to racial equality that the town’s leaders have pushed forward,” Drummey said. “I am very sure that some students may say that they are doing too much, or not enough, and to be fair, it is easy for me to say that their 16-month plan has a seriously positive potential. But again…it shows great promise and advancement for the town.”
“Through service to each other, conversations, and avocation, we can better ourselves, each other, and our community. We must be aware and we must be vigilant,” Apostol said.
The ongoing pandemic and racial justice movement has made Snow, along with other candidates, reevaluate their priorities. In respect to his position as Treasurer, Snows wants to ensure that clubs and other campus organizations have proper resources to keep their members engaged while online.
For him, this is especially important for intercultural groups which he said should be adequately funded to ensure safe spaces and continue to promote multiculturalism and diversity on campus.
Drummey said that he is eager to continue to work with College administration to ensure the safety of the students both socially and medically with the possibility to return to campus in the spring.
In addition, when the College community does return to campus, there is a retainment of energy and momentum for all the ideas that students have been culminating over the past several months.
“I can only ask that as we come closer to that spring semester, the students keep in mind that their actions and their adherence to guidelines concerning COVID will determine whether we return or not,” Drummey said.