Candidates for SGA student body president outline their views and policies

0
272
Photos courtesy of Margery Leit ‘24 and Jacob Forstein ‘24.

The 2023 Student Government Association (SGA) election is just around the corner, with voting opening on Thursday, Apr. 20, at 7:00 p.m., and lasting 24 hours. In order to allow the student body to make an informed decision before casting their votes for president, The Muhlenberg Weekly asked both candidates (Jacob Forstein ‘24 and Margery Leit ‘24) for their responses to a series of questions. Below are their responses, which have been edited for grammar and clarity.

How will you serve as an advocate for the student body and what is the main problem you think they are facing?

Forstein: I plan to serve as an advocate through consistency, communication and collaboration. No one can do it all alone, and SGA is an organization filled with dedicated people that all want to make Muhlenberg the best it can be. Finding ways to engage the entire General Assembly to create the most positive change is an absolute necessity. Additionally, I want to directly support our campus affinity groups by working with OML [The Office of Multicultural Life] and the next Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging chair to determine and address the most direct needs of these groups.

One of the biggest issues the student body is facing right now is that so many of them are feeling unsupported by the institution and by SGA. Over the past semester, I have made major strides in improving this from the SGA side of things through the revamped Ambassador Program, which has engaged nearly 50 percent of active clubs on campus in just the first few months of its inception. As president, I am dedicated to getting students more involved in major decisions made by the SGA and administration, and creating opportunities for clubs to collaborate on SGA initiatives and events.

Leit: I firmly believe a good advocate of a community is someone who is both connected and consistently reflective on the nature of their community. At a young age I was taught about the importance of listening to understand, and in college I’m majoring in philosophy which is constantly educating me on how to think, understand and communicate with others. This being said, I think I will serve as a great advocate for the student body because of my ability to actively listen and then think critically about what I hear before responding. Then when it comes to responding, I ensure that I am considering the best interest of our students, and how it will be impacting the person on campus who I haven’t even said hi to yet. Which connects to what I think the main problem our community is facing is, which is a lack of transparency with our communications. Being transparent and communicative upfront is incredibly important for our community because it is what creates the basis of trust for working with each other to truly be productive with our goals. If I were to be elected president I would want to prioritize this spirit of listening to one another with the intention of understanding and learning from one another.

What are some of your primary campaign issues that you plan on prioritizing during your term?

Forstein: Some of my primary campaign issues are focused on transparency and support for students. The student wages and menstrual products ad-hocs have done great work over the past couple of years, and I want to continue and expand on these initiatives, while looking at the most realistic ways for ad-hocs to function for future SGAs. I also want to improve the understanding of SGA’s inner function and capabilities, which I have started through the SGA voting database, which can be found on our Instagram’s linktree or through the SGA website. I want to expand on this work by creating SGA open forums, which would be town-hall style events where we do not conduct new business, but focus on bringing in members of the student body to provide ideas, give feedback and engage in dialogue. SGA should not be a scary place for people to come to and voice their opinions, and I hope that these open forums can help make that happen.

Leit: If elected president I really want to focus on fostering a better sense of community amongst the student body, which I believe can best be achieved through making information more accessible to students and through improved communication that allows students to be included in what is happening. I often feel that we have a disconnect between groups in our community and if there was better communication flow people would be able to involve themselves more with the community. In my campaign I discuss my idea of a community calendar which I think would be very productive in communicating to the wider campus about the variety of events that we have going on so that they can get involved. Additionally, a feeling of community is enhanced when the students feel uplifted by their school and I want to focus on more transparent communication between administration and students. 

It is thought by many that student government lacks the resources to make real change; how do you plan on subverting these expectations?

Forstein: I want to subvert this misconception by showing the change that’s possible. Change isn’t a quick thing, and it takes hard work and dedication, but consistent advocacy on behalf of the student body and listening to their needs are the first steps in making real change. I want to get free contraceptives into the dorms, lower GQ prices and develop strong relationships with clubs across campus. The change can happen, and it will, and the more people that invest in the change we aim to achieve, the more we can do together.

Leit: I don’t believe that student government lacks the resources to make change, but rather that there is a misconception about the change SGA can facilitate. It’s important to me to be realistic and practical about the types of change SGA can really fund. Student government receives a lot of money from the Student Activities Fee which is a part of everyone’s tuition, and it’s one of our primary jobs as SGA to allocate that money to clubs and organizations on campus to support them in making a space full of enriching activities. I want to make it easier for students to know how to request funds, how much funding we have at any given moment, and most importantly I want the students to know what SGA is considering with the allocation of funding so that they can better understand our process as an association.

How do you think your past leadership positions have prepared you for the role of president?

Forstein: Throughout my time at Muhlenberg, I’ve been fortunate to have so many opportunities for leadership, which have all helped prepare me for the role of SGA president. For the past year, I have served as the Walz Hall Director (and the year before that I was a Prosser RA.) This experience helped me grow my skills in advocacy, mediation, event planning and collaborating with a team. As a former club president and part of the founding membership (shoutout to Myths ‘N Mules), I learned a lot about collaborating on an individual level, listening to the needs and concerns of constituents, and managing time well with a group of people. Finally, within SGA, I currently serve as the Recording Secretary, and I have been a member of two out of four of our permanent SGA committees. Through these experiences, I have been a key member of many decisions, such as redesigning the special election system in the fall, creating an internal SGA conduct system, and rewriting the SGA attendance policy. Connecting with students and administration alike in all of these positions have all helped prepare me for this role.

Leit: Leadership is truly incomplete without teamwork and I feel that through the leadership experiences I have held in the past, collaboration was emphasized as the foundation of success for any group. My other major is theatre, and I have held roles in both directing and assistant directing and it is abundantly clear that when a team is not working together nothing is going to be accomplished. Through that directing work, I also know that controlling and maintaining the decorum of a space is important for productivity. I feel that I am well-equipped to be a productive leader for our community because I have the ability to work efficiently and effectively with others. The ability to think creatively for solutions has also been a strong skill of mine that has yet to fail me. Additionally, I have found that the work that I have done in leadership training workshops has taught me a lot about the value of time management which is extremely important with this role because it’s important to remember that whoever gets elected to be SGA president is also a student who has to manage the responsibilities of their own life and their role. Learning time management definitely has already helped me with being more productive in my life, and I have no doubt that it would similarly serve me well if elected president.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here