By Adeeb Chowdhury
The Student Association Executive Council welcomed a new member during its meeting Oct. 26, swearing in the freshly elected treasurer Saugat Gautam. A veteran member of the Finance Board, Gautam accepted his new position and shared his ambitions for what he hopes to achieve.
Gautam is a junior from Kathmandu, Nepal, and is majoring in political science and economics. He credits his areas of study for his interest in leadership and policy making, especially finance, and has been actively involved with the SA from his very first semester at SUNY Plattsburgh.
“I saw what the treasurer could do and the impact the position had on everyone, both within and outside the SA,” Gautam said, reflecting on his early days on the Finance Board.
“My predecessor, Ha Nguyen, demonstrated the impact an effective treasurer could make, and that only further showed me the possibility of changes I could make if elected.”
The election process following former treasurer Nguyen’s departure from the SA took place in two stages: one for accumulating petition signatures and then the actual election. Gautam said he utilized both stages of the process to allow people to better know him and be familiar with his vision, talent and efforts.
He took note of what he referred to as the elephant in the room — the COVID-19 pandemic. Gautam said he chooses to see the pandemic as both a challenge and an opportunity, noting students can now join more clubs and partake in more activities all from the comfort of their own room. Reminding students of the ways they can make the best of this complex situation, he believes, is crucial to emerging from this pandemic stronger and safer than before.
“We need to make sure our financial plans and policies are not contrary to the real world’s issues right now,” Gautam emphasized. “We may have a bit of a changing dynamic, but we should make sure that we’re not completely volatile. Essentially, we need to have a plan for what needs to be done.”
As treasurer, Gautam oversees all income and expenses. His responsibilities will include reviewing all budget requests of clubs and organizations and drafting policies pertinent to finances. He places particular emphasis on transparency and being attentive to students’ needs.
“I cannot stress this enough. The money coming to the SA is your money,” Gautam said. “I’ll make sure to do my part in making sure your money is going straight to you [and] to things where you want it to go.”
The remainder of the SA council meeting saw members reviewing their plans for upcoming projects and events. SA President Rudaba Ahmed announced she was making progress on the mentorship program she has been working on and extended an invitation to students interested in playing a role in helping develop the program. Academic Affairs Coordinator Ahmed Metwaly expressed his excitement at his board’s upcoming digital learning initiative, which will help teach students how to make use of digital resources in the age of remote learning.
SA Adviser Jacob Avery reiterated the need for all members to clearly establish their goals for the rest of the semester, seeing there are only a small handful of meetings left. He stressed the need to plan ahead and outline each committee’s priorities and reminded the SA that his door is always open for anyone wanting to discuss their plans.