By Danielle Williams
As another academic year draws to a close, seniors prepare to leave Grinnell and with that comes the change of SGA Cabinet. The newly elected Cabinet consists of Thomas Neil ’14, President; Opeyemi Awe ’15, VPSA, Remy Ferber ’14, VPAA; Roni Finkelstein ’14, Treasurer; Joe Wlos ’15, Administrative Coordinator; Gargi Magar ’16, Assistant Treasurer; Natalie Richardson Gentil ’14, ACE Coordinator; Aaron Levin ’14 Vice-ACE Chair; Moira Donovan ’14, Concerts Chair; Victor Kyerematen ’14, Films Chair; Clare Mao ’14, Outreach Director and Sam Offenberg ’14, Services Coordinator.
There have been several changes already, such as the introduction of an online application in order to accommodate students living off-campus. Because there was an influx of applicants, the selection process was especially challenging.
“I think we had a lot of very qualified people—Grinnellians, and what it really boils down to is sometimes the roles were fairly specific … some people were very exceptional and we didn’t necessarily find the right role for them or they didn’t express interest in a role that we thought that perhaps they were a perfect fit for,” Neil said. “We had so many applicants that we couldn’t really interview a lot of people, which I think, as someone who wants to make SGA an open door, it was tough to confront that reality. There’s only so much time, we can’t interview everyone.”
Those involved in the process of selecting were Neil, Awe, Ferber, Finkelstein and Wlos, once he was selected as Administrative Coordinator.
The new SGA cabinet has already been highly involved in putting forward possible changes to be made next year. One significant change to be made is extending the title and role of Outreach Coordinator to include diversity as well.
“I think it’s easy to come into this position with a lot of gigantic goals and then to be dissuaded. I would say [that we need] to first get our act in order: organize funding, having a more streamlined process, improving the accessibility … social media, outreach and diversity,” Neil said. “Priority number two is building a unit that can be a contributor to the discussions that are going to have to happen next year.”
Each of the designated cabinet members has also been coming up with ideas for their respective positions.
“I really enjoy throwing events, they’re, to some extent, giving back to the community. My main priority is to focus on smart programming and making sure we have events available to different publics and that we’re sponsoring more events than just Harrises on the weekends,” Richardson Gentil said. “And I know that’s very hard, but I think if we introduce a couple more events … things where alcohol isn’t the focus [it] would show that we are trying to provide entertainment for everybody and you don’t have to get wasted on the weekend to have a good time.”
“I like movies—I know that’s a cliché thing to say, but I do and I’m very interested in filmmaking and film production … I’m trying to get myself immersed in that and change the way film is figured in Grinnell, because it seems the interest is generally low,” Kyerematen said.
Some of Kyerematen’s ideas for the Films position include film festivals and film competitions with more specific themes, engaging more with student groups and the community and getting more opinions from the student body.
“Every student could be Films Chair—everyone has 20 movies they like, but my aim is to show things that people want to watch. It’s amazing how many resources we have at our disposal at this school. We have one of the best school cinemas and one of the most comprehensive media libraries in the Midwest,” he said. “For college students, that’s a great outlet—to be able to watch movies with friends for free.”
The Cabinet is eager to hear back from the student body. Kyerematen encourages students to email him with their suggestions.
“I want to hear what people want to see because I don’t want the money that they’ve paid to go to waste,” he said.
“If every student at the start of the semester felt empowered enough to go to SGA and request a budget, then I would be happy,” Neil said. “Whatever we can do to become more approachable in that process and make this whole thing a little more simple … that’s what I’m looking forward to.”