Sunday, May 19, 2024

Incoming SA president, VP discuss goals

From left: Kalema Gooding and Sandesh Poudel were elected president and vice president, respectively, of the 62nd legislation of the Student Association.

 

By Aleksandra Sidorova

Student votes yielded a new president and vice president for the upcoming academic year  the general Student Association election held April 25.

Kalema Gooding, currently serving as vice president, was elected president of the SA, receiving 52% of votes against competitors Chaun’J Ramos and Jonanthony Tarlen. Senator Sandesh Poudel is the incoming vice president, winning against Senator Naomi Adebayo with 59% of votes.

Last year, most candidates ran uncontested, including those running for president and

vice president.

Gooding and Poudel have worked together in the SA for the past year and outlined goals to forge stronger bonds between the SA and the student body.

 

PRESIDENT

Gooding is a rising senior majoring in theater and minoring in gender and women’s studies. She is from Brooklyn, New York, with roots in Trinidad and St. Vincent. Gooding is also part of the modeling club House of Divinity and works at the Learning Center as a front desk attendant.

Gooding began her involvement in the SA in the 2022-23 academic year by joining the Clubs and Organizations Affairs Board. She anticipated to run for SA Senate but missed the registration deadline by a day, so she seized the opportunity to fill in the vacant vice president position.

When Gooding entered her position as vice president at the beginning of the academic year, she had a lot to learn as she went — which won’t be the case in the coming year, she said.

She said she would like all incoming SA members to get used to their roles in advance.

“When I first came in, as a legislation, we were really behind, which is why I’m so proud of where we’ve come,” Gooding said. “We came with everything being so behind, and I want to be able to help prevent that next year.”

It did take Gooding some convincing to run for president, though.

“It’s a big position. It’s a lot to handle with a lot of other things going on in my life, but I said I’ll take a shot at it,” Gooding said. “If I get it, it was meant for me, it’s God’s plan. If not, then that’s OK, I’ll be fine, and somehow, I got it.”

The responsibility of presiding over the Senate’s meetings will go to Poudel, but Gooding might attend its meetings if her schedule allows it.

“I am going to miss being part of Senate,” Gooding said. “I do enjoy the people there, I enjoy talking to them and learning their opinions.”

To Gooding, being part of the SA means finding people she enjoys talking and working with, as well as a source of emotional support.

“It can be stressful, as any other job, but I do enjoy it and, more importantly, I gained friends from it,” Gooding said. “It’s really nice working with people who have respect for you, and you share the same respect for them as well. … I made such great friends in SA that they’re able to help me pull out of my slumps or days when I’m just not feeling it.”

Poudel said he has confidence in Gooding, whom he will be assisting in his position as vice president.

“I know she’ll be a good president,” Poudel said. “She’s doing a great job as a VP now.”

 

VICE PRESIDENT

Poudel will be a senior majoring in computer science, with minors in math and finance. An international student from Pokhara, Nepal, Poudel founded the club Nepalese at Plattsburgh and serves as its president. He has also been a community advocate since January 2023.

Poudel learned a lot about the SA in the process of founding his club, and it drew him in — especially event planning. He joined the Activities Coordination Board in spring 2023 and was elected senator in fall 2023. This year, Poudel decided he wanted to take on a higher position.

“At first I ran for Senate because I wanted personal growth and leadership skills. I didn’t fully get what I was looking for,” Poudel said. “I decided, I’ve already been in Senate — I have to take a leap.”

As a senator, Poudel noticed some glaring problems he now aims to address as vice president.

“What I see is that clubs and the SA are not getting to connect well, so (my goal is) to fix that gap,” Poudel said.

Poudel mentioned student support for the SA as expressed through participation in the recent elections and SA fee referendum. 

The referendum, held every two years, decides whether the SA fee, which funds key aspects of campus life, such as clubs and organizations, the shuttle, trips, campus events, extended library hours and peer tutoring. A total of 671 students voted, 84% in favor of keeping the SA fee mandatory.

“Many students showed trust in us and voted yes, so we have to keep the momentum,” Poudel said. “I want to make sure that students know what SA is without reading our emails, posters and all those.”

Poudel credited the election’s success to the SA’s campaigning efforts. By the end of his term, however, he wants students to know what the SA is without reminders, laying the groundwork for the legislation after him.

“I really like to be a part of the SA,” Poudel said. “It helps me, in a way, and I can give back to the community, as well.”

Gooding said she will support Poudel in his new role.

“He really knows, being part of the Senate and everything, the most about the position already,” Gooding said. “I know it’ll be stressful at times, but I have faith in him. I believe that he’ll do well … and I’ll always be there for any pointers or advice.”

 

BUDGET CHALLENGE

Despite the SA fee being raised to $125, the SA anticipates a tighter budget next year as a result of declining overall enrollment and an increase in online students, who don’t pay the SA fee. 

The limited budget may pose challenges for maintaining the services the fee pays for and engaging the student population. This semester, clubs have turned to alternative sources of funding for major events — such as College Auxiliary Services and the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, more frequently — rather than relying fully on SA additional allocations.

Senators have expressed concerns at Senate meetings about the relationship between the SA and student clubs, suggesting that clubs are less trusting of the SA unless it approves generous additional allocations.

“The SA’s had lower budgets before, and they always made it through,” Gooding said.

 

Cardinal Points reports on the Student Association’s activity through weekly coverage of Senate meetings.

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