Posted by Jonathan Zeidan
As expected, the record number of contested positions for the Student Government Association (SGA) elections last week invited significant attention from members of the Skidmore student body. During the debate between candidates for the position of SGA President, we were asked about what we, as candidates for SGA President, will do next year if further issues regarding racial tensions arise.
In my speech I pointed out that there are actually two important issues affecting Skidmore campus culture and the student community: racial tension and alcohol abuse.
I would like to clarify that these two issues are in no way causal. They do, however, represent significant issues relating to feeling comfortable with oneself and in one's community that we, as a student body, must address.
It is clear that we are struggling to find answers to many questions surrounding diversity on campus. We are far from having all the answers, but now is not the time to stop looking. After reflecting on my own personal role in the discussion surrounding diversity at Skidmore, I understand that the awareness we have gained this year is only the first step in a long process. There are no easy solutions, but I plan to continue to facilitate discussions and work with an increasingly diverse set of student leaders to make concrete progress for a stronger community in which we can all take pride.
The Skidmore student community also experienced tremendous difficulties with issues surrounding alcohol consumption this year. After attending the "alcohol dialogue" in the fall, it became clear to me that many students drink to overcome stress and anxiety and often use alcohol as a social lubricant. Our Skidmore community will have to continue to encourage and enforce policies that support responsible alcohol consumption among its members. I personally do not think we can or should attempt to stop students from drinking. Rather, my approach would attempt to promote responsible drinking practices and develop an awareness of social pressures on college campuses.
Last week the student body elected many strong, qualified, and diverse members to positions in the Student Government Association. SGA is an evolving organization that strives to accurately represent all facets of the Skidmore Community. Like you, next year's SGA Executive Committee members have begun searching for answers to the issues affecting the student body. I invite everyone to look for the Executive Committee's letter to the student body in the coming weeks where we will detail many of the planned activities and action items on the agenda for the ensuing academic year. SGA encourages your feedback. The Student Government Association is a vehicle for change– we need to work together to create our vision of an ideal Skidmore community.
Jonathan Zeidan ‘12
Jonothan Zeidan is the SGA president-elect.