By Alana Penny
The Student Association held elections for its 60th legislation, April 19. Each elected official comes from a different leadership background and set of goals for the coming academic year.
Taiba Azeem, a sophomore double majoring in sociology and psychology, was elected president. Azeem said she has always had a knack for picking up leadership roles. She was the student council president throughout high school, part of the international orientation team and a teacher’s assistant her second semester at SUNY Plattsburgh.
“While there are many goals that I will be individually focusing on during my term as President, the few important tasks that are top of my priority list include actively representing the needs of the student body, making the SA and its tasks more visible and enabling students to understand the sheer importance of the SA,” Azeem said.
She also wants to increase student engagement by emphasizing on the importance of clubs and encourage more students to take on leadership positions.
“I saw the lack of active representation of the student body, the steadily decreasing number of clubs, attendance at events organized by the SA have been embarrassingly low, there are daily cases of people of color getting harassed, women getting assaulted,” Azeem said. “I knew that it couldn’t continue the way it is, I knew someone had to bring about the change that this campus desperately needed and I felt I had to do my part, hence I chose to run for president, and my thoughts, opinions and goals resonated with the student body.”
Saran Kaba, a senior graduating next year and a communication, sciences and disorders major, was elected vice president. Kaba has experience in the SA, as she used to hold a senate position.
“When I used to be a senator, I saw the roles and responsibilities of a vice president,” Kaba said. “I felt like I had the skill sets to actually pursue that.”
Kaba also saw the position as a good way to strengthen her leadership skills. One of Saran’s main goals as vice president is to make the SA student-centered.
“I want the SA to be approachable to students,” Saran said. “We should be more open and more out there on campus so students know what SA is.”
Saran said when she was campaigning a lot of people didn’t know what the SA was.
“They didn’t know where it was located, they didn’t know the point of SA,” Saran said. “That’s why a lot of people said ‘no’ to the SA fee, because they didn’t know what it was.”
Saran wants to encourage students to come to the SA office in the Angell College Center, and talk to their representatives when they have issues or questions.
She also wants to work closely with the senators, to make sure they know how important their voices are.
“When they’re voting for a club or organization I want them to know their specific role and actually do their duties and learn about the full [student] body instead of saying ‘no’ or ‘yes’ to something, they should know what they vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to,” Saran said.
Osamuyimen Omorogbe-Akpata, a sophomore double majoring in accounting and business administration with a triple minor in finance, management information systems and international business, was elected treasurer. Omorogbe-Akpata ran for the position because it fits her major, and she wants to use what she’s learned in her accounting and business classes to benefit the SA.
“My major goal as a treasurer is to bring organization into the finance aspect of SA and make sure that all the treasurers of organizations have the resources that they need, in order to access their budget,” Omorogbe-Akpata said.
Omorogbe-Akpata is currently the secretary of the National Association of Black Accountants, the secretary of accounting for the Accounting and Finance Association and the treasurer of Learning and Experiencing God.
She said a lot of students, especially leaders of clubs have a lot of ideas and opinions about the SA and she would like to help them voice their concerns, when it comes to finances.
“I am really, really excited and grateful that the students decided to elect me as the treasurer for the 60th legislation,” Omorogbe-Akpata said. “I’m really looking forward to working with students and clubs and organizations to make sure that they get the proper funding that they deserve.”
Pilar Balader Herrero, a junior double majoring in marketing and art, was reelected as coordinator for the arts. She felt she had a lot of goals she had not fulfilled in the position yet and wants to have more art experience, as she just added her art major last year.
This semester she was able to use her position to purchase artwork from an artist in Spain, where she is from.
“I knew this artist from a while ago, and my goal was to have their work here in the college,” Balader Herrero said. “So we actually managed to do that. Something that I want to keep doing is give more visibility to international artists in the Plattsburgh community.”
Something new she is hoping to accomplish is starting an “art evening” event. It would give all students, not just art students, the opportunity to exhibit their artwork.
“I just want to make art more visible in our community,” Balader Herrero said. “Because it seems like just the art students are involved with that, even though I know we all love art in different ways.”
Deasha Gilmore, a sophomore TV-video production major, was elected clubs and organizations coordinator. She transferred from SUNY Brockport and noticed there was not as much campus engagement with clubs and organizations at SUNY Plattsburgh and wanted to change that.
Her main goal is to meet with all the clubs and organizations about how they can use their funds strategically. She also hopes to connect clubs and organizations with each other.
“This is my first time working on a student government so I’m really excited to work with a big body of people,” Gilmore said. “Usually I’m just working with a small group on an eboard so now that it’s way bigger, I’m excited to see how that’s going to go.”
Peculiar Joseph, a sophomore triple majoring in biomedical science, entrepreneurship and political science with a minor in accounting, was elected student affairs and diversity coordinator. She is currently the vice president of Learning and Experiencing God.
Joseph said she loves to listen to people. She plans to use those listening skills to hear students’ concerns and complaints. She believes that when there are race related issues on campus, more needs to be done than “speak outs.” She wants to advocate for BIPOC and LGBT students because she feels many of them are “invisible” to the school.
“I am the kind of person that sees potential in everybody, I feel like everybody’s very beautiful,” Joseph said. “I feel like everyone is equal and everybody can do really big things. I don’t think anyone can be more important than anyone.”
Jakira Barrett, a sophomore early childhood education major, was elected academic coordinator. In high school she created a women’s empowerment group, and is currently active in Black Onyx and owns her own hair business. Her main goal as academic coordinator is to see a better retention rate and better grade averages for students transitioning from freshman to sophomore year.
“I’m big on grades and school success and I have witnessed many students come into college and lose their ambition for academics and flunk out within their first semester because they are trying to balance that social and academic life,” Barrett said.