photo submitted by Elena Williams
The Student Senate elected three new executive officers after three members of the executive board resigned without explanation. On Dec. 3, the senate announced that President Dominique Bangmon, Vice-President Ashley Winters and Secretary Zem Zem Siyad had all stepped down from their positions. Director of Student Life Tara Martinez remarked that this was another result of COVID.
Nicolas von Ahn was elected as the new director of finance. The position had been vacant since the beginning of the semester, but for the past few weeks, some members of the Student Senate had been encouraging him to take the position. He ran without opposition, and the vote to elect him as director of finance was unanimous. Von Ahn said that he wants communication with Minneapolis College students to be transparent. He wants to “know the numbers and have the spreadsheets” because it influences decisions made in the Student Senate.
The need for a director of finance became evident during the debate about the Students Against Hunger and Homelessness (SAHH) Winter Clothes Drive. “That was a big project we were trying to take on. I felt that if we were going to do it we [needed] to do things right.” said von Ahn. “These are actions we take that impact people’s lives. We shouldn’t be guessing numbers. We shouldn’t be guessing what we need. We should know. I believe a leader isn’t just somebody who tells [someone else] what to do, but is confident in their answers and is transparent [about] where those answers [come] from, not just pulling a number out [of] their magic hat.”
Interim Director of Communications Elena Williams and Senator of Diversity Felicia (Fofo) Bristol both ran for President of Student Senate to replace Bangmon. They nominated each other for the position. Williams was voted in as the new president of the Student Senate.
Williams first attended Minneapolis College about ten years ago and said she is now “eager to get back into the swing of things” as a returning adult student. She said she views Minneapolis College as the “namesake college of the city.”
“I really feel like we as student leaders can make a difference not just for current students but for future students as well, and I think that’s really important to me,” said Williams. “I want to know that I do something that helps out my community.”
Former Senator of Diversity, Felicia Bristol was voted in as the new vice-president of Student Senate. Bristol wants to formulate a new way to approach academic policies. She said she wants to bridge the link between senators and club members so that club members have a “go-to person” for support. She added that she also wants to continue with her work to make Minneapolis College an anti-racist campus.
[[Read: Senate VP takes the lead to help make Minneapolis College an anti-racist campus]]
Williams expressed her support of Bristol in helping Minneapolis College become an anti-racist institution. “I want to support all members of campus as best I can while checking my own personal biases as well. For professional development and for personal development I’m really committed to working with Fofo as we continue our relationship in the Student Senate,” said Williams. “I’ve identified that being involved with Fofo and on Student Senate is offering me a really important connection between the act of saying, ‘I want to embrace diversity,’ and actually doing something to help create and foster that [diversity].”
Bristol said she would like better communication with club leaders. She wants them to know that student leaders drive Minneapolis College. “We have so much power when it comes to organizing our institution,” said Bristol.
She added that we have a lot of barriers and that it was important to keep lines of communication open. Bristol said she is also interested in encouraging transparency between student club leaders and Student Senate. She said wants to be more aware of people’s needs and wants to make sure information is shared.
Williams said that she would like to expand student leadership and connections within the next few weeks and into the Spring 2021 term. “In terms of really trying to engage students, one thing we’ve identified is utilizing the resources that faculty already has, [such as] utilizing the president’s council [and] seeing what projects they have in the works.”
Williams also said she wants to engage with clubs and club advisors to make sure they have the resources they need.
Williams added that she wants everyone to know that she and Bristol remain good friends after the elections.
The Student Senate is still searching to fill the positions of Secretary, Senator of Health and Sustainability, and now, Director of Communications and Senator of Diversity. Williams said she would like to encourage students and let them know that “involvement in student life programs can really give you a sense of belonging.”
In a separate meeting, Williams said senate members talked about how they feel like they belonged. “We want to extend that feeling of belonging to everyone,” she said, adding that she understands that it is hard to network online but wants people to step outside their comfort zone.
“As time moves on, everyone here in GA [General Assembly] will get to see we’re all really passionate about supporting each other,” said Williams. “We have really good synergy on the team right now . . . just really utilizing what we have to enter 2021 really strong.”
Anya Savvy is a pen name for a Minneapolis College student who works as a reporter for City College News. To contact Anya, please email them at anya at citycollegenews.com.