Becky Paul-Odionhin, Sammi Pang and Alana Lesczynski were elected to serve as members of the Student Association e-board for the 2022-2023 academic year on April 1.
The Spectrum sat down with the three e-board elects to discuss the aftermath of the election, preparations for the upcoming year and their hopes and expectations moving forward.
The following has been lightly edited for length and clarity:
TS: Since the election, how have you been preparing for your upcoming term?
Becky Paul-Odionhin: “So we’ve been meeting like this and just talking about things, trying to learn more about SA and leading it because even though some of us may have [already] been in SA in some capacity, it’s not on the same level as what it will be next year. So we’ve just been trying to learn about it: talking to clubs, seeing what issues they have, taking notes and we’re going to go through policies like this week-ish. And then for our next meeting, we’re going to see how we can help fix the club’s issues with the policies in there [the SA bylaws], but nothing’s set because we’re just learning right now.”
Sammi Pang: “I am a big reader when I enter new environments or new roles, so to prepare for the campaign I read the SA bylaws, which was a long document. Right now I’m also trying to read all the policies and talk to people in SA that are currently involved with the vice president role so I can learn more about it.”
TS: How has the transition from the current SA been?
Alana Lesczynski: “So they [the current SA] are in the transitional period. They’re moving out, and we’re moving in. We’re actively learning how things are working in the e-board right now. So we go into SA and [are] asking people about how they do what they do there and we get tips and insight. So it’s been very helpful, and we’re very grateful.”
BPO: “They’re trying to keep us in the loop about changes that are currently occurring that may outlast their term, just so we don’t just come in and be like, ‘brand new slate everyone.’”
TS: What do you think are some of the most pressing issues that are facing students, and how do you envision SA tackling them?
BPO: “I do know that there’s some relations between SA and other departments on campus that kind of need to be better — let’s put it like that. I’m hoping that by the time we do start our term, that this is something we can work on. That we can talk with these individuals and try to create a win-win situation for all the students who are part of SA, and those who use our resources. But that will be on my end, that’s in the presidential role.”
SP: “Yeah, so obviously a huge issue with SA clubs is communication. I think a lot of the issues that clubs are facing right now do stem from a lot of miscommunication. So in my role as VP next year, I really do hope that me and my team can just have full transparency with all the clubs. I don’t want them to run in circles, seeing who [from SA] they want to talk to. I want it to be very clear. Like you’d go to this person for this, this person for this. And then if there’s any changes or updates, I need to tell these clubs. I want to do it very properly and very clearly, and just kind of be very open to people asking me questions and coming to me for any clarifications.”
AL: “One complaint that I’ve been getting from students, especially treasurers of clubs, is the modernization that needs to happen with SAFE [Student Association Financial Entry system] and how it can be more user-friendly. So I do hope to modernize SAFE and make it more user accessible.”
TS: How does your administration plan to tackle Fall Fest and Spring Fest next year?
SP: “We currently work in SA so we kind of know how it works-ish. I work as a coordinator in the media marketing department so I don’t really know how to do it [organize an SA Fest], but I know how we market it. I’m not gonna lie, I’m not familiar with how they actually reach out to artists or set up all the venues and stuff, but I am looking forward to learning about it.”
BPO: “I feel like because if it’s something that’s currently occurring, it’s not really part of anything I’ve tried to learn right now, because it’s a busy time in SA. I mean, it’s Spring Fest, so you’ve got lots of work to do. But probably after the whole thing is done, we’ll probably talk with the current e-board and see what it is they’ve done and how it is they think it could be better, and then see how we’re going to modify that to work for us. So we don’t really have any plans for Spring or Fall Fest, because none of us really have experienced it, because of COVID-19 and all that.”
AL: “But I think a plan we can say now is that we definitely do want to get a lot of feedback from students who go to Spring and Fall Fest currently, just so we know what they want moving forward.”
BPO: “And super seniors, because those will still exist next year and they probably have some good experience.”
TS: In lieu of Lt. Col. Allen West’s speech on campus, do you have any plans to review the SA’s current role or policies on how student organizations invite speakers on campus?
SP: “It’s tough. I think in any leadership position, or at least in my experience, I really do try to keep my personal viewpoints out of the position, because I know that’s what leadership is, that you need to make sure you represent everyone in a way that is fair. But also you have to be a human and be empathetic to what people are thinking. So the current e-board had to deal with that. And I don’t know how I would have because I’m not in that situation… I don’t know if this is helpful or just very specific at all, but I think it’s easy for us — at least newly elected people or people even campaigning — to go in front of this undergraduate student body and be like, ‘we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do that.’ At least for me. I don’t know the very specific policies that surround these [political events]. And I think I really do need to go through them to look for specific issues, if there are any, and then I will have a better plan. Because I don’t want to say things and then just have it not [be] feasible or possible. So I just don’t want to be like, ‘oh, I’m gonna do this,’ and then not actually do it.”
BPO: “There’s also the fact that advocacy is representing all viewpoints. And as a result of that, it’s kind of tough to say we’re gonna place limits on this based on this.”
AL: “Because we do have to use viewpoint neutrality. It’s based [so that] besides for anyone’s personal views, we have to treat every club the same. So it is hard. And there’s also the limited power not even just that the three of us will have, but SA in general has.”
Kyle Nguyen is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Kyle Nguyen is a senior news/features editor at The Spectrum.