SGA Holds First Meeting, Discusses Diversity Course

5 min read

Will Scannell ’24

Contributing Writer

Trinity’s Student Government Association (SGA) held its first meeting of the 2020 fall semester on Sunday, Oct. 11. The meeting, led by SGA President Giovanni Jones ’21, included a discussion about the student-specific ramifications of the recent increase in cases of COVID-19 as well as brainstorming ideas for a future student survey that will seek to assess different aspects of campus life.

With Trinity’s recent transition to the “orange” COVID-19 campus alert level, the meeting started with members of SGA discussing the situation. Senator Jaymie Bianca ’21 pointed out how there are some students who are able to go home if they get infected while other “less-privileged students” may not be able to do the same if they test positive for the virus.

Senator Clare Donohoe ’22 spoke on the responsibility that SGA members have during Trinity’s heightened alert level. “I do hope that people in SGA…are taking this orange really seriously,” said Donohoe. “I think it’s our responsibility to call out people too for not wearing masks.” Maddy White ’22—one of SGA’s Co-Vice Presidents of Communications—added that “showing…compassion” and “checking in with people” are also important for quarantined students. “Nobody wants to be in quarantine. And nobody ends up in this situation maliciously,” said White.

SGA President Giovanni Jones introduced and discussed the campus life survey, which would allow SGA to gauge students’ thoughts and feelings on the issues that students currently face on campus. “We want to get answers for the committees,” said Jones. SGA members from each class divided into breakout rooms to discuss which issues to analyze. Upon reconvening, class groups shared the issues that the survey could potentially address.

Many of the issues discussed centered around the aspects of campus life that have been most complicated by COVID-19. Sophomore Class President Jason Farrell, Jr. ’23 brought up academics during Trinity’s switch to the orange alert level. Farrell suggested “How well has [the] school provided resources to you?” as a potential question on the survey. In addition, First-Year Senator Aarti Lamberg ’24 would like the survey to assess daily situations during which students are not physically distancing. For instance, Lamberg pointed out how the line to swipe into Mather Dining Hall can oftentimes be tightly packed with students. “Should we set up times? Something to maintain distance and follow the rules,” suggested Lamberg.

Junior Senator Jederick Estrella ’22 indicated that the survey should include both open-ended and specific questions that extend beyond the issues concerning COVID-19. He suggested including the question “How is [the] racial climate at Trinity?” Lamberg additionally suggested asking “Do you feel safe here?” on the survey. “It’s really uncomfortable to walk around here…as a student of color…[and] as a woman,” Lamberg added.

According to Jones, the survey will involve students answering questions by rating their experience on a one through five scale (also known as a Likert scale). Students will be allowed to elaborate on their ratings.

Towards the end of the Zoom meeting, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Anita Davis joined to discuss plans to implement a course to educate students, faculty, and staff on diversity. “We would also do some level of required education for our whole campus,” said Davis. “Of course, one course isn’t enough…and we know that we need to have conversations because conversations and interaction and behavior all go together.”

Davis specified those who are required to take the course: “So, this is really juniors, seniors, IDP grad students…not the 2023 and 2024 classes because 2024 basically all did it and 2023—this is props to them—over ninety percent have completed it.”

SGA members and Davis then discussed when the course should be implemented and when it should be due. Finals schedules and uncertainty surrounding COVID were brought up by SGA members as potential timing issues for the course. Nevertheless, Davis stated why she thinks the course should be completed during the first semester: “That was one of the commitments we made…that we would make this available in the fall semester…because we’re already experiencing a lot of racial and other types of incidents and we want people to be mindful. To be…going through the whole semester without kind of bringing [these issues] to their attention…seemed like a lot of time to wait. So, we wanted to start offering education that might change what it feels like to be here even during this semester as early as possible.”

The student government also finalized the list of chairs and representatives to be appointed to each committee. 

The Chair of the Student Life Committee will be SGA Vice President Jack Stone ’22. The Committee’s five representatives will be Donohoe, Farrell ’23, Lamberg, Terrence Bogan Jr. ’24, and Marquise Brinkley ’21.

The representatives of the Academic Affairs Committee currently include Gabrielle Desrochers ’24, Allison Rau ’23, and Stone.

The Chair of the Sustainability Committee will be Amelia Huba ’22. The Committee’s five representatives will be Leah Winters ’23, Myles Little ’21, Gabrielle Desrochers, Leah Herbin ’22, and Dennis St. Jean ’23.

SGA members of the Faculty Curriculum Committee will be Josh Jacoves ’23, Shawn Olstein ’22, and Jaymie Bianca. 

The Chair of the Food Committee will be White. The Committee’s representatives currently include Allison Rau ’23, Leah Winters ’23, Jordan Lewis ’22, and Felicia McDevitt ’21. 

The Chair of the Facilities Committee will be Drew Gardner ’21. Members include SGA’s Vice President of Finance Camille Valentincic ’22 as well as Gabi Seguinot ’24, Aadiv Sheth ’22, and Lewis.

The Chair of the SGA Communications Committee will be Maddy White, and the Committee’s student representatives include Donohoe, Liz Foster ’22, Desrochers, and Bianca.

bclark

Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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