Posted by Julia Martin
On March 28, Skidmore SGA held Speech Night, which featured candidates running for Executive Committee and Inter-Class Council positions. Each candidate was given the opportunity to speak for a maximum of three minutes, followed by a question and answer session. Amanda Seres '13, VP of Communications and Outreach moderated the elections.
The majority of candidates are running unopposed for their selected position. This included the Sophomore Class President candidate Prince Tsabedze and Junior Class President candidate Soraya Attia . Both are returning candidates, Tsabedze having served as First-Year Class President for the class of 2016 and Attia having served as First-Year and Sophomore Class President for the class of 2015. Addison Bennett '16 is running unopposed for the position of VP of Club Affairs; Madeleine Kanazawa '15 is running unopposed for VP of Communications; Jonathan Lynn '16 is running unopposed for VP of Diversity Affairs and Andrew Lowy '15 is running unopposed for VP of Academic Affairs.
Two candidates are competing for the position as VP of Financial Affairs. Ben Bechand '14 and Eric Bereguete '15. Bechand cited his experience as co-president of Skidaiko as attributing to his knowledge of the club funding process. Bechand promised to help coordinate co-sponsorship agreements for club events when SGA funding isn't enough. Bereguete referenced his experience on the Budget and Finance Committee and promised to represent the student voice on the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC). Both candidates expressed desire to make the club funding process less intimidating for students.
The position for Senior Class President is also being pursued by two candidates: Xavier Hatten '14 and Laura Venner '14. In his speech, Hatten expressed goals to "make Skidmore a closer and more inclusive place," adding, "we should consistently be looking out for new methods for making Skidmore more cohesive." Hatten spoke of plans to strengthen connections with the Saratoga Community through sponsorship of more community-wide events. Hatten elaborated on his dedication to the Skidmore community, stating "the job is not done when the meeting has finished or the event has ended." Venner aims to increase the number of events for students, as well as host the events in off-campus venues. Venner's platform cites her openness through office hours (she was the first class president to do so), her leadership of the Good Sex is" campaign and involvement in the planning of the 5K fundraiser for the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Venner's plans for next year include monthly pub-crawls and bar-hops to raise money for senior week, stating "the senior class needs to go out with a bang."
During the question and answer portion, the two expressed goals of greater involvement of the senior class in the selection of commencement speakers-citing the recent selection of controversial businesswoman Cynthia Carroll as the 2013 commencement speaker. Venner expressed desire to "cater to student's ideas" for campus events and Hatten spoke of goals to "improve the efficiency and visibility" of the Inter-Class Council's inner-workings.
The position for SGA President is being pursued by Sam Harris '15 and Jess Sonnenfeld '14. Harris opened by stating that "experience is not measured by years in a seat or semesters in a classroom, but by the quality of one's accomplishments." Harris referenced his founding of Skidmore Organizing for Collaborative Change, a club aimed at galvanizing on-campus student involvement, mentioning his aims to "hold students to higher standards." Sonnenfeld referenced her strength of connections. "What sets me apart is my experience in working and forming relationships with members of the administration." She expressed her capability in acting as an advocate for potentially intimidated students who wish to have contact with members of the administration. "I've worked tirelessly to put myself in a position to help students with their projects."
Harris currently serves as VP of Club Affairs and Sonnenfeld currently serves as VP for Residential Affairs and Junior Class Treasurer.
Sonnenfeld is responsible for starting the first Fall Fun Day, which took place in September 2012, and co-chaired the committee that founded the Committee on Student Life. She wishes to increase transparency between students and the administration and create a sense of unity among students.
Harris helped create the Skidmore Engaged Leadership Program and amended the chartering process for clubs. He wishes to increase civic engagement on campus and strengthen the voice of individuals, SGA and the student body as a whole.
When asked their proudest moment serving SGA, Sonnenfeld cited her experience co-chairing the committee to evaluate the Inter-Hall Board and her formation of the Committee on Student Life. Harris cited his work with members of SOCC. Harris was asked how he would understand senior needs as a member of the rising junior class and Sonnenfeld was asked how she would understand the needs of underclassmen as a member of the rising senior class. Sonnenfeld spoke of plans to eat three meals a week in D-hall to speak and connect to underclassmen. Harris spoke of his relationships with members of the current senior class which he says has given him a glimpse into their lives and needs. In regards to a question pertaining to the marginalization of certain student demographics on campus, Harris spoke of plans to increase campus dialogue. Sonnenfeld expressed her aims in making herself accessible to all students.
The event lasted two and a half hours, and was attended by roughly 35 students (including the candidates)-less then 2% of the student body. Candidates and members of the audience were engaged and active, even asking detailed questions of the candidates running for uncontested positions. Many of the candidates spoke of the lack of student involvement and knowledge of the inner-workings of SGA.
Voting for SGA candidates will be open all day Thursday, March 28. Voting booths will be available in the dining hall and in Case center. Students may also access the voting ballot through SGA's website.