Posted by Layla Lakos
Prior to the Skidmore Shop Fashion Show, the Student Government Association will hold a speech night at 7:30 p.m., for the Special Election for the position of vice president of Diversity Affairs.
The two qualifying candidates running this semester are Benjamin Bechand '14 and Rohini Alamgir '12. Bechand is a member of the Pride Alliance and is the president of Kimball Hall. Alamgir is the senior advisor of Hayat and co-president of the International Student Union.
The position is currently held by Jovany Andujar '13, a sociology major who will take a semester off in Paris next semester, requiring SGA to hold elections for this position one semester early.
"This will give new candidates more time to decide what they're going to change and how they would go about doing so," said Raiza Nazareth '12, vice president for communications and outreach on the SGA.
The vice president of Diversity Affairs heads the Committee of Diversity Affairs, which informs the Campus on the nature of diversity at Skidmore, offering opportunities to different members of the community through the Office of Student Diversity Programs, such as Hayat and the Pride Alliance club. Candidates must have at least a semester's experience in SGA.
Bechand, a biochemisty and music major, describes the position as a resource for the diversity groups on campus, which include clubs with a focus on racial identity, sexual orientation and political positions. Bechand said he intends to re-evaluate the ISU trips to cities, such as Boston and New York City.
"These trips provide opportunities for those who would otherwise be unable to experience an urban setting," Bechand said. He said his aim is to give priority to the students who chose to go on the trip itself, rather than allowing students to use hired buses simply as a form of transport for individuals not going to a cultural event.
"I would like to have trips prioritized as cultural events," said Bechand, citing the Japanese Language club NihonGo!, which attended the Berkshire Cherry Blossom festival last semester.
Alamgir chose not to disclose the specifics of her campaign, but said her decision to run was a spontaneous one. She described the position and committee as a way to help create a unified community and optimal climate on campus.
"Because we are attempting to co-exist among a plethora of different socio-economic backgrounds, gender and sexual identities, race and color, etcetera, it is necessary to find an individual to facilitate conversation, understanding and acceptance between all of us," Alamgir said.
Candidates will have the opportunity to speak to the student body at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 in the Spa, prior to the Skidmore Shop Fashion Show at 8 p.m. Nazareth said she hopes this will prompt a wide variety of attendees with diverse perspectives.
The election is open to the community all day on Dec. 8, and will also include a vote on the addition of a Sustainability Committee, as well as an accompanying executive position to the SGA.
"This change will help integrate sustainability groups around campus and help voice opinions," Nazareth said.
Students can vote online through the SGA voting website, which will be made available on Dec. 8.