BY MERYL PHAIR ’21
The Student Government Association held a “Meet the Candidates Night” this Tuesday in preparation for upcoming SGA executive board and class office elections. The candidates’ presentations were preceded by an announcement of the results of the Student Conference Committee’s (SCC) annual survey, released during the 2017 fall semester.
Izabella Czejdo ’20 and Jackie Rich ’21 from the SCC shared an analysis of data collected from this past year’s survey, released in the 2017 fall semester.
The SCC Student Government Association committee investigates current issues affecting the student body. With feedback gathered from both Senate meetings and different campus organizations at the beginning of the year, the SCC develops a survey that is distributed across campus. After analyzing the data, the SCC creates a comprehensive report that communicates student opinion to the Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees during February.
“We’ve been trying new things and changing the survey around to make it better for the coming years,” said Czejdo. With the Office of Institutional Research, which advises the committee on survey design and offers support with data analysis, the SCC started an initiative to standardize the survey so long-term analysis of the data will be possible.
In this year’s survey, the SCC looked at how comfortable students are on campus depending on their socioeconomic status, political leanings, race and ethnicity. They found that the majority of students agreed with the statement that they felt comfortable on campus in all three status categories. The percentage who said they disagreed with this statement was highest in the political standing category.
The survey also addressed instances of bias in departments around campus. LITS consistently performed well for least instances of bias, along with Religious and Spiritual Life and Facilities Management. The departments with the most instances of bias around gender identity, race and ethnicity was Dining Services and faculty. For most bias around socioeconomic status, it was Financial Services and Residential Life.
“I think that we need to look at in what context people are experiencing these instances of bias, and how the SCC data can better inform the policies which the Board of Trustees enacts. And we would really like to hear suggestions about [how] this would be possible,” said Czejdo.
In terms of campus jobs, 68 percent of students are satisfied with the amount of work, 40 percent don’t get jobs because they don’t have time and 24 percent think their biggest obstacle is their full schedule.
The SCC also addressed student comfort in the classroom and found that 58 percent of students don’t speak their mind for fear of being called out, 69 percent can’t speak their mind because they don’t know the right terminology and 22 percent think conversational spaces at Mount Holyoke don’t allow them to ask questions.
From these findings, the recommendations the SCC brought to the Trustees were: to develop new ways to approach departmental bias, change both the lengths and application processes of work-study jobs and suggest ways to work with professors and students to develop in-class or online resources that can address student comfort in the classroom.
Senate then moved on to Meet the Candidates Night, where each candidate delivered a two-minute speech to their peers. Running for SGA president was Adelita Simon ’19, Emily Stewart ’19 and Sunan Qian ’19. Vice president candidates were Ambar Mejia-Villagra ’20 and Lila Oren-Dahan ’20. For secretary was Diana Jaramillo ’20 and Tooba Indhar ’21. Up for treasurer was Ye Zhang ’20. Pax Carberry ’19 ran for public relations and Sommer Byers ’21 ran for chair of Committees. Senate finished by dividing by class years to hear speeches from each representative running for class office.
Voting on all candidates opened Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m., immediately following Senate. The first class to reach a quorum (50 percent plus 1) will be awarded a dessert party.