By Adeeb Chowdhury
The SA meeting on Feb. 17 saw the appointment of three new senators: Laman Hanifayeva, Amy Imbaquingo and Carter Mosher. The freshly approved leaders took the oath of office and officially joined the Student Association. Each expressed their eagerness at being able to represent the student body.
“It’s honestly amazing to be able to lead and support the student community here at Plattsburgh,” Mosher, a freshman majoring in marketing and international business, said. “I’m looking forward to helping my fellow students in whatever way I can.”
“Every semester comes with new changes and challenges and I will work with the rest of SA to find solutions that best fit the needs of the community,” Imbaquingo said. Imbaquingo, a senior in the communication sciences and disorders program with a minor in Spanish, expressed similar sentiments to Mosher.
To all three senators, it is clear what those changes and challenges currently are: the hampering of student activity and involvement due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Living in a global pandemic has taken a toll on all of us and it certainly is affecting the campus community,” Hanifayeva, an international student from Azerbaijan studying biomedical sciences, said.
“We haven’t had any big in person events in a year, most clubs can’t hold in person meetings, our annual events have been cancelled, and this has made most students not want to join clubs or get involved with campus. It is stressful and even more difficult to be taking online classes, trying to learn the full course over zoom meetings.” Hanifayeva said.
The importance of extracurriculars and community engagement is clearly a priority for the senators, who know first-hand the benefits of such involvement. Mosher notes that he has been engaged in student government since high school and is familiar with the significance of positive leadership. Hanifayeva, too, highlighted her involvement with numerous organizations at SUNY Plattsburgh, such as Club International, Finance Board, Biomedical Club, Chemistry Club and the Theta Phi Alpha sorority.
“It is definitely a struggle trying to operate the same way as before with social distancing and pandemic friendly guidelines,” Imbaquingo said. “But we still find new ways to connect with students and members of the SUNY community.”
The senators offered their visions for growing student involvement even in an environment characterized by restriction, isolation, and distancing. They believe that despite such conditions, fostering a healthy, active student community is certainly a possibility and should be among the primary goals of the SA this semester.
“The main priority is to provide events and opportunities for students to participate in, because we haven’t had many,” Mosher said. “We need to design these events in a way that’s safe, but also enjoyable.”
“We all have a responsibility to respect the guidelines and each other by staying safe in these trying times. The more we try to be cautious following the COVID friendly guidelines means we will have a better, safer, and more allied campus,” Imbaquingo said.
Essential to the SA’s plan for moving forward is not just making sure such events are available, but also that students are aware of what opportunities they can participate in.
“We need to make sure the students know about the available clubs we have,” reminded Hanifayeva. “SA encourages students at these times to reach out for help, use the resources available, and join clubs even if they are online.”
Echoing the central mission and purpose of the SA, Hanifayeva said, their goal is to ensure good mental and physical health, safe environment, academic excellence, diversity, and educating the SUNY community on current events.