On Monday night, four candidates for the Student Delegate to the Board of Trustees (BOT) held a debate for the position. It was an unconventional debate by Thelmo standards; two candidates participated via Skype: Chris Rich ’18, who is currently abroad in Thailand, and Sadaf Delawar ’19, who was in Washington, D.C. for a Model Organization of American States (OAS) conference. Ryan Castle ’18 also could not attend, so Jake Barrett ’18 was there instead to represent him. The final candidate, Jabari Bowen ’19, was also present.
The position of the Student Delegate to the BOT is elected every spring; the current delegate is Autumn Rolack ’17. The position consists of acting as a representative of the SLU student body at the several trustee meetings throughout the year. Meetings are held once in October, February, May, and once over the summer at Camp Canaras. These meetings consist of the trustees, two student delegates (one being the president of Thelmo), two faculty delegates, and the president of the alumni association.
So what can we expect from each of the candidates?
Chris Rich, who began the opening statements, emphasized his promise of “transparency, inclusivity, and fairness” in his representation of the student body to the Board. While he has been abroad all year, in Jordan in the fall semester and teaching English in Thailand this spring, Rich has four semesters of Thelmo involvement behind him, and promises to be a voice for all students on campus. When asked what issue he was most passionate about, he felt that SLU students do not have enough say in “big decisions” on campus, like tuition changes, divestment, or renovations. “I want to make absolutely sure that each student feels that their voice was heard.” To do so, Rich suggested opening one BOT meeting annually to any SLU student who wants to attend, or maybe encouraging the BOT to create a website on which students can directly submit thoughts or concerns.
Sadaf Delawar also was extremely passionate about making students feel heard. She suggested using social media to build a stronger bridge between students and the Board, and also wants to create a platform on which students can anonymously submit concerns or suggestions.“I’m not afraid of fighting for what’s important, but in an effective way.” An issue she felt important to address was the lack of diversity in campus life, and suggested expanding certain academic departments that encourage diverse thought, like Gender or Global Studies, thus creating an atmosphere on campus that is friendlier to diversity in the future.
Jabari Bowen, who was a candadate at the time of the debate but has since withdrawn from the election, also felt passionate about expanding diversity on campus. As a multicultural admissions ambassador and a representative of HEOP, Bowen has plenty of experience regarding the state of diversity on campus, and wants to advocate for a more diverse and multicultural staff in the future. Bowen also was extremely passionate about reaching out to all corners of campus in order to accurately represent the student body. “I am not the entire school, and therefore I am not afraid to reach out to all parts of campus to make their voices heard”.
Ryan Castle, represented by Jake Barrett, feels that his experience as a risk manager of the fraternity Beta Theta Pi here on campus gives him a unique set of professional skills that will carry over to his involvement on the Board. The issue he felt most important to address was the state of grounds and facilities. While Barrett assured those in attendance that “St. Lawrence is a beautiful campus, it can improve its competitive edge with smart budgeting,” and felt that Castle has the ability to effectively create that change with his “personality, passion, and drive.”
The link to vote for your favorite candidate was available on SLUWire and closed on Wednesday.