By Olivia Montes
On Friday, April 8, the Washington College Black Student Union announced the new members of the 2022-2023 Executive Board.
According to a campus-wide email sent by outgoing BSU President and current Student Government Association Vice President junior Jonah Nicholson, each candidate presented their platforms and interacted with WC students, staff, and faculty members during the moderated debate. The open forum was hosted on Thursday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in the Norman James Theatre in William Smith Hall.
After tallying up the votes with Associate Director of Career Development and Interim BSU Advisor Lisa Moody and SGA Parliamentarian junior Maegan White on April 7, Nicholson reported the members of the 2022-23 BSU Executive Board: junior Mariama Keita as president; freshman Olivia Daniels as vice president; sophomore Nicole Chimenzie as treasurer; sophomore Hailey Sutton as secretary; junior Sandra Kahnplay as social media chair; and sophomore Jude Souazoube as Historian.
According to Nicholson, they hope that the new Executive Board members will continue to demonstrate consistent innovation and determination throughout the course of their leadership.
“[Determination] is one of the biggest qualities given that this new board will be leading such a great organization that has a wild impact on campus,” Nicholson said. “In advocating for such a large portion of our student body, that determination to strive through challenges and hard times [is important].”
According to Keita, being elected as the incoming president of BSU was the most rewarding experience she’s had during her collegiate career. Along with several other members of the Executive Board, she plans to “continue the wonderful work” the organization has done in the past,” as well as further “connect underclassmen to the administration,” and “showcase [their] pride” to the rest of the College campus.
“[BSU has been] my home at WC and the only organization where I can unapologetically be me and where I found people I could relate to. Having my peers elect me as their president means the world to me,” Keita said. “I am excited to be part of a driven, goal-oriented team, and everyone will be contributing in some way to our organization…[and] for what lies ahead.”
For Daniels, the opportunity to serve as BSU’s vice president has been “something in the making.” Her past positive experiences with members like Nicholson and Keita, as well as her history of starting her high school’s BSU chapter, fueled her passion to provide “a year to remember” for her fellow freshman and senior members.
“I hope that with everything going on not just in the community, but at the College, we can create a safe space to celebrate Black excellence and overall achievement within our club,” Daniels said.
According to Sutton, her motivation to run for the position of secretary was because she felt her fellow students were “left out of the communication” throughout the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and hopes to bridge that gap between the organization and members.
“What I hope to accomplish is to improve transparency and communication. I hope that I can bridge the gap between the executive board and the rest of the community,” Sutton said. “No one should feel as if they have no clue what BSU is doing, especially our potential and current members.”
For Souazoube, the election results were “surreal,” they look forward to helping the WC campus “see how unity is strengthened in diversity.”
“I think the rest of the E-board shares my same sentiment in wanting to create a space in which we see fellowship, unity, and love across all barriers…where Black, white, Latinx, Hispanic, and AAPI students feel they are welcomed,” Souazoube said.
According to Nicholson, for the remainder of the 2022 spring semester, the current BSU Executive Board will host two more campus-wide events, including the Dodgeball Tournament on Friday, April 15 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the Alumni Career Panel at the end of the month.
Additionally, the BSU Executive Board members will also have the opportunity to introduce themselves to current BSU members, as well as the rest of the WC community, with the current board members advising their successors with “a guiding hand,” according to Nicholson.
With the passing of the leadership torch, Nicholson said that they hope the incoming Executive Board members will not only continue to uphold the purpose and mission of the organization and support the needs of their fellow members and peers, but also have fun in between.
“I hope that they learn how to advocate for themselves, but at the same time, have fun,” Nicholson said.