Posted by Jean-Ann Kubler
Jonathan Zeidan ‘12, SGA president-elect for the 2011-2012 academic year, says he will emphasize transparency and accessibility within the organization during his term as SGA president.
"SGA does a lot of great and influential work in the community, but a lot of the time students don't know what's going on within SGA, or how to get involved and participate," Zeidan said, "SGA doesn't work without voices. Community engagement is paramount to our success."
Zeidan said this year's SGA members have done an incredible job of responding to the community's concerns after a semester of arguably negative publicity.
The college made national news after incidents of alcohol-related hospitalizations in October. In December, four students were charged with the assault of a local man at Compton's Diner in downtown Saratoga Springs.
In the wake of the Compton's assault charges, many students and faculty members spoke out on behalf of one of the students, who was charged with a hate crime.
SGA hosted a number of campus climate dialogues during the spring semester, during which students could express their concerns about the incident.
"I think SGA has done a great job of giving students a forum to have their voices heard in a focused way — but perhaps not quite focused enough, in the sense that the dialogues tend to be large and people may not feel completely comfortable voicing their opinions," Zeidan said.
The executive committee for 2011-2012 plans to host an open forum in the fall for students to tell SGA what issues they feel are important to discuss. From there, Zeidan said, SGA will work to create smaller, more focused forums for student dialogues.
"Intersections dialogues are going to continue, and those cover race, class, gender, nationality; but we also want to know what issues the students think are important," Zeidan said.
One area in which Zeidan said he feels SGA could improve is in its tendency to be reactive.
"On the flip side, SGA does do a lot of great things, but I think it has been very reactionary in the past. Taking a proactive, rather than a reactionary, stance is one place where I do think we can improve as an organization," Zeidan said.
Zeidan said he will take many cues from Alex Stark '11, the current SGA president.
"I can definitely learn a lot from Alex's term as SGA president. Alex is strong and flexible, and she's been able to draw the best out of everyone, which is something I hope I'll be able to do. She works hard and she works smart. We can all take a lot from her presidency," Zeidan said.
The biggest goal for his term as SGA president, Zeidan said, is fostering a stronger relationship among SGA, the college community and Saratoga Springs.
"At this time next year, I hope SGA is more a part of the community. We want to define each position and each person, so every student knows that if they need money they should contact Ethan Flum, our incoming vice-president for financial affairs, or if they're curious about a curriculum change, contact Thomas Rivera, the vice-president for academic affairs. It has to be all about transparency and accessibility," Zeidan said.