Interview Conducted by Madison Lazenby, Editor-in-Chief of the Monitor, on February 10, 2022.
Tell me a little about your previous experiences in SA and other campus organizations and how they prepared you for your current roles as President and Vice President.
Emily Jiang, President: As a freshman, I don't have a ton of on campus experience. But previously in high school, I've, you know, done administrative work for a lot of different organizations, and they've worked with, like our school administration on a lot of things such as, like increasing the kind of DEI efforts of the school and like making sure that teachers aren't, thinks there's some class and stuff like that. So I've had experience both leading groups and working alongside faculty and administrators in order to make sure that students are given a voice. So I think coming into Hamilton, this wasn't something I saw myself doing. In fact, I told myself that I would just kind of lay low and not get into anything, because I didn't like the kind of controversy that came with that. But in the end, I realized, if I want to do anything that will have impact, there will definitely be pushback. So I just kind of have to deal with that.
Marvin Lopez, Vice President: On campus, I'm the president of Brother's Organization, it's essentially a group that's dedicated to being a group of, of multiracial, multicultural, and men and we sort of just meet and like better ourselves for the sake of changing the image of underrepresented men. And sort of the main, the main thing we try to tackle is the idea that a lot of times, men of color are sort of expected to fail and expected to go on different paths than then white men. So our whole point is if we can make ourselves better, we can influence the world in a positive way. But that's just one of my commitments, I would say that's where I've had the most leadership. And apart from that, I'm a three-year career advisor at the Career Center. So I'm pretty used to public speaking and, and giving presentations. But I would say my most meaningful leadership experience comes from just my history of working with a lot of people, especially kids and in tutoring settings. I love teaching, I love giving people a chance to understand something that maybe they don't and that I do. And that's sort of my goal with SA. Before becoming Vice President, I served as an appointed representative for the class of 2023. So I didn't serve the whole time. I have heard from some people “Why the jump, right? Why would you go from not being elected as a full representative serving for a few months and then voted vice president?” My answer to that would be [that] I've always had friends that are in SA, and I've kept up with what SA does, and I felt prepared to lead in the sense that I understood the policy, I've read through the Constitution, and I knew that there were things I wanted to change. I think that sort of was more important to me than knowing the ins and outs of the legality of you know, “We should do this, we wish to do that that way.” I was willing to learn that and let the passion drive both of what we were going to do.
EJ: I just realized I didn't say anything about my previous experience on SA, but I applied to be a deputy secretary and beginning of the school year. So I worked in that position, and then when Saphire [Ruiz (SA President from Spring 2021 to Fall 2021)] resigned and Eric [Santomauro-Stenzel] became president, I decided I would run for VP, because at that point, I had been talking a lot with Eric, with the other board members and the student reps, both in my grade and other grades, and I was like, “if no one else is gonna take this position, I might as well do it, because it'll only be for a few weeks and it'll save us the work of having to do all this logistic stuff and not be able to get anything done in the next few weeks.” So I originally just ran for VP, almost out of convenience, but then I discovered that there was actually a lot more to the role, and even though I didn't do a ton because I was only there for a few weeks, it was something I wanted to investigate further. And then when Eric also [did not run for reelection] and there was now a vacancy, I originally ran with some other students as VP and then I realized that their platform was not one that I kind of supported as much as I thought I would. So then I was like, “Well, I guess I'll have to run for president” and now I'm here. So I have technically been on SA since I came to Hamilton.
Your online platform states, “We want Student Assembly to be as effective as it can be, which is why we will commit to restructuring and solidifying the Assembly. Then, we will be better poised to accomplish a range of goals.” Can you tell me about what you mean by this and how you plan to accomplish it?
ML: The idea with that was, I think, since my freshman year, [previous SA administrations] had very ambitious goals. Regardless of whether those goals are—for activities, for social justice, for academics, for COVID—I just consistently realized that there were a lot more goals than [goals that] actually got accomplished. Even when it was like some of the most passionate, most committed people that were on the Assembly as President, Vice President, sometimes still things didn't get done. So for me, what that signaled was that the structure of SA had something to do with the efficiency of it. How can we have so many talented, so many intelligent and committed people putting in their best, and yet we get no product? A lot of previous [SA] Administrations agreed that the Constitution was something that slowed any process down because the language is very complicated, and it was circular—it referenced itself. Emily and I weren't sure we were going to be on a platform together until closer to the election, and something that brought us close together a lot was the fact that we both saw these flaws in the Constitution. How do we want to tackle that? We've been working with the Administration and, more importantly, we have an advisor that has been helping us with the legality and how to run Student Assembly. They are going to help us rewrite our Constitution over the semester. That's going to take a bunch of resolutions, a bunch of amendments, and a lot of hours from everyone on the Assembly. So it's not something that will just happen, like, “Hey, next week, we have a draft of the new constitution,” but it'll be a more gradual introduction of different things. Something else we noticed was that Student Assembly had sort of lost its respect from people on campus, on Jodel or in person, a lot of people would sort of say, “SA means drama;” and [was] because there were some situations that arose towards the end of last semester. So a part of our platform was also holding community building events and reaching out to the campus in general. We’re planning tables, where people add comments [at] the dining halls where we have incentives for people to come and even give one sentence opinions about anything.
EJ: We just wanted to make sure that not only can we accomplish things through Student Assembly, but also that it's better poised for future Administrations to do so. It's been in dire need of a restructuring. So we hope that not only do we achieve external things, like events and getting money open, but we also [want to] achieve internal restructuring so that whatever initiatives people come up with in the future, the assembly is better poised to accomplish those. So we're doing a ton of rewrites this semester.
ML: If I could elaborate a little bit on one thing that is problematic about the Constitution: for example, there's a section on elections within the Constitution and then there's a section on elections in the bylaws, which contradict what is said in the Constitution itself. And then sometimes what would happen is [that] previous Assemblies would argue over how to interpret the Constitution, and that would take up the majority of the issue.
In your own words, what is the ideal relationship between Student Assembly, the student body, and the Administration?
EJ: That's kind of a difficult question because we have to take account of a lot of people's different attitudes toward this as President and VP. We know one of the complaints with the previous Administration was they had kind of an antagonistic relationship with Admin, and that's not on whether we agree with or not, but we felt like taking a different approach, in that we're not going to let Admin dictate what we do—as I think may happen with Administration's before the last one—but we're also going to try to work together to accomplish our goal so that we don't spend our time fighting, because I think that takes a lot of time and energy that could be better put towards other things. I think we've already achieved a lot of support from Admin while not having to compromise on our own goals. I think being able to kind of cross reference what we've heard from different administrators has been very helpful in terms of clearing the communication and making sure that neither of us are walking over the other. There is a level of trust and communication between us, so that what needs to get done gets done, and we are still able to stand firm on what we believe in.
ML: When it comes to students and SA, I think what we want is to just regain the trust of the student body. That will be crucial to us making any other decision. Referencing previous years, I feel like when the campus doesn't care about SA, they don't care to give their opinions, and then SA can make decisions that aren't reflective of those opinions. So the trust is the first thing we want to work on. Our political identities do matter, obviously, but when it comes to speaking to the campus, we want to get to know every single opinion, we don't want this SA to be just a body of people that we agree with. When it comes to SA and Administration, so far, I think we've sort of been trying to keep clear communication, and make sure that the communications that we do have are transparent to the campus itself. Sometimes I think there can be mysticism over what SA is doing with the Administration, and just something as simple as just publishing meeting notes or something cansort of give people the opportunity to check us. I don't agree with everything that the administration does, but I do agree with the fact that we need to have discourse, and we need to be able to sit next to each other and stand looking at each other if we want to talk about anything. That's sort of the approach we've been taking. We meet with President Wippman and Terry Martinez, and what's on the agenda is what we talk about, and if we have concerns, we can bring them up at the next meeting.
Your online platform has the goals of improving student representation, quality of life, justice and equity on campus, and internal improvements for the Assembly. Since you will be in office for a full year, what are your priorities for this semester?
EJ: So this is something we're still working on, given that we weren’t together over winter break. So we're just kind of getting into the hang of things just about now. We are working a lot on revamping the Student Activities fee, as we said in our last meeting, and you could definitely see more about that in the minutes. We're also trying to hold a lot of events given the budget increase that we just passed two weeks ago, so we're gonna try to set up an SA table [in dining halls]. Something else we're going to start working on is engaging with the dining staff and the dining consultant that just came. Felix [Tager ‘23, Student Assembly Treasurer] and I met with him yesterday and we talked about how to make it easier for people on Dark Side or Gray Side to get food. And something else that I'd like to get started in the coming few weeks is to provide more support for marginalized students, especially in asking for accommodations or extensions—like templates or offering to mediate meetings. It’s a very stressful time right now with COVID. I've personally experienced a literal physical breakdown over just all the stress, and I think it would be much appreciated by everyone if that was something that SA did. Of course, we're still working on the constitutional amendments, you know, making sure that people are doing their work. Overall, I think we've seen visible improvement in that our meetings are like half an hour and last year they were like a full two hours every time.
ML: The Constitution, like Emily mentioned, that's a project for both semesters, so that's ongoing. But this semester… Wellness is something that both of us have been looking into. And what I mean by that is making people feel comfortable and making sure that they have a lot of the commodities that that I think COVID has has taken away from us. You might remember we got those care packages last year, the fancy big boxes. Nothing's official yet, and I'm not going to promise that it's going to be the exact same, but we are in talks with Administration to fund those boxes again for the campus, and with the budget increase, like Emily mentioned, we are expecting all the class presidents to put together events for their classes, on top of the events that we're going to put on for the entire school. So this semester is—I don't want to call it fun—but [is about] laying a comfortable environment so that next semester, when we might get into the more gritty things and the more legal constitutional things, we can just go at it and be respected.
What are your thoughts on how the Administration has been handling Covid-19 on campus?
ML: I would say it's definitely a tricky situation with Hamilton only because COVID is a very dangerous thing to mess with, and Omicron is very infectious. But being a school [where] we're on the top of a hill and we can establish a bubble of safety faster than other places, I think it's tricky for the school to find the balance between giving us less restrictions and still keeping us safe. So I would say my thoughts are [that] I'm excited that we get to be a part of that process. At this time there's a lot of uncertainty and a lot of opposing opinions from the student body. Some people think we should do away with the masks altogether, some people think we should be adding more restrictions. I think that maybe that's something that doesn't come through everyone on campus perhaps, that there actually is a sizable number of people that want mask mandates to go away, which is, I would say, surprising. It's hard to say how I feel about what's going on only because we're on a downhill trend right now with Omicron, but that could change at any minute. The school's response to an emergency is what I would have an opinion on.
EJ: We have been talking with Admin—that being President Wippman, Terry Martinez and Karen Leach, and I think we will talk with the COVID Task Force about some of their policies, and we've done our best to answer questions for students—The Spectator actually published something with our answers recently. Students have also brought up concerns with long COVID and that's something we're seeking to address as well. So far, we've heard that the college plans to kind of accommodate for long COVID the same way they'd accommodate for any disability, and offer the resources that people need with that, but we're definitely still working to make sure that people can kind of live the lives they want while at the same time minimizing risk for themselves and for other people on campus, especially for immunocompromised students. If anyone has suggestions, we'd really welcome them because the [greater] volume of stuff we get, the louder they're heard by Administration… It's just the two of us speaking on behalf of an anonymous X amount of people, versus actually hearing them straight from the mouths of students who need it.
This last December, the Federal Government extended the pause on student loan repayments to May 1, 2022 due to the surge in the Omicron Variant of Covid-19. Since the pandemic has been going on for nearly two years now, many people have been advocating for a full cancellation of all student debt. In January, more than 100 student body presidents at colleges and universities across the country signed a letter demanding President Biden cancel all student loan debt, with one of the signatories being the previous SA President Eric Santomauro-Stenzel. Where do you stand on this issue, and would you sign your name to such a letter if the opportunity arose?
EJ: I can speak for myself only and say that that is absolutely something I stand behind. It's my personal opinion, that all student loan debt is all predatory, especially if we look at the trillions that the US has accumulated, especially when you compare it to other countries that have similar education systems. We're paying an exorbitant amount to go to school here and it's something that very few people can afford. I think that if there is an opportunity to get rid of all student loan debt, and also amend the system so that it doesn't accumulate like this in the future, that's something I would absolutely stand behind. I think it's been disappointing that the President has not followed through on his promise to decrease, pause, and/or cancel student loan debt, especially with the pandemic continuing to hit. I think paying back those debts is something that hasn't been viable for a very long time and I think it's even more un-viable now.
ML: I agree…I would support something like that—I would sign it if I had to—but I think given the uncertainty of how the President of the United States might respond, something that we have actually been working on in SA, what a committee has been working on is establishing communication with [Financial Aid] and seeing if there's anything through our Financial Aid Department that we can do to help students with their tuition bills. That doesn't mean that they're going to cancel anything—it doesn't mean anything concrete just yet—but we want to focus on opening that channel of communication here. If you look at the benefits that other schools similar to Hamilton have provided for their students because of the pandemic, those differ a lot from what Hamilton is actually doing. So even if President Biden doesn't cancel all student debts nationwide, I think we'd be able to have a conversation through our financial aid department.
The Student Assembly email account recently sent out emails that reminded students to upload their Covid-19 vaccination records, advertised the services at the Counseling Center, and announced that there was an active power outage on campus. Why do you feel it is important that students receive this information from the Assembly as opposed to the Covid-19 Task Force, the Counseling Center, or some other administrative body?
ML: I think it's important that they receive it from everyone, right? I don't think I would ever see the Student Assembly messages about the power outage or COVID or anything like that as a replacement to Administration messages. Since we do work with Administration, we sometimes do get to hear of things earlier than they get sent out and we do get permission [to inform the campus]. For example, Terry Martinez might say, “This has happened, we're going to publish this later, but you can say it now, so that people are aware of it.” And that was sort of the case with the power outage too. We knew a few hours before the email was sent out, so we decided to say it so that there wouldn't be any anxiety over what would happen. So yeah, I would never tell someone [to] listen to us, not the [Administration’s] emails, I would say listen to all because the SA emails definitely offer a slightly different perspective.
EJ: [With] Wellness Center’s blankets, the [SA] health committee… met with the director of the Wellness Center, and they were asked to send out that email on behalf of them, mentioning that SA is a liaison between the various administrative bodies and the student body. They assume that the students will listen to us because we are also students—and I think we have more fun emails than they do. We heard that after that email went out, so many people called the Wellness Center referred by us that they actually ran out of [blankets]. It is clear that these things are working. In times where Administration might have more bureaucracy to deal with before they can send out emails, we can actually get those out faster. We sent the blackout email out before they did, because I assumed they were talking with National Grid and with each other to make sure what was going on so they could send out a full informative email; [so] we were like, “Okay, we need everyone to know that they're not the only ones experiencing this blackout.” All these emails are sent out with communication with Administration as well, so we're not just acting out or not on our own, but it's a joint effort to make sure that SA is performing our role as a liaison between Admin and students.
ML: I think the power surge email, for some reason, has been the hot topic for people. That morning actually, all my friends texted me that their power had gone out and then a few minutes later my power went out. We texted Terry Martinez, and she didn't know yet. So that's why we sort of got to send out an early email because she said, “This is the immediate information I know that you can send out, and then I'll get back to you later.” That was the story behind that.
Emily, you were recently named to the search committee for a new Vice President and Dean of Students for the College after the announcement of Dean Terry Martinez’s coming retirement this May. What perspective do you hope to share and how do you plan on representing the student body on this committee?
EJ: So I will say I have yet to be briefed on my role in that committee, I think that will be happening in the coming days. Since I'm one of two students there, and I'm the only one who was elected to the committee [by way of being SA President],I hope to be able to represent not only myself but all students, or as many students as possible. Not only my concerns, but the concerns and the hopes and wishes for a new Vice President and Dean of Students that students on campus want. I think SA will definitely hold some kind of a way for students to be able to submit their concerns and what they want to see from the search, because there are so many more adults, administrators and faculty on there. Meanwhile, there are only two students. I want to make sure that—because I was not able to get any more students on the committee, despite asking—I'm able to bring their voices to the committee, by virtue of me being there. [I’m] not only being there as myself and making sure that this new Dean of Students fulfills my expectations of listening to students, working together with students, and respecting us and taking us seriously; I also want to make sure that I bring everyone else's concerns and desires into this committee.
Can you tell me a little bit more about how you feel that there should be more students on the committee and what your ask was to try and get that to happen and how it was denied?
EJ: I was just emailed, just me, asking me to be on the committee. Of course I was like, “Oh, my God, yes, of course”. And then I asked, “Would it be possible to also get Marvin or another student on,” given that Marvin is Vice President and therefore also elected the same way I was. The response I received was that there will be other students, however they don't want them just all to be from SA. I think there ended up just being two students, me and another sophomore [Saleh Eltayeb]. I thought that there should be more students on the search for a Dean of Students, given that, you know, they're the Dean of Students, and they're the one who is going to be concerned with our well-being and our standards of living and studying here. So that was my opinion, that I thought there should be more students deciding how we want our team to be and how we want to be treated by our future Dean. I understand that Administration has a lot more to worry about, with finances in relation to the Board of Trustees, but I felt like if there was a little bit of a more even distribution, that's something I would have appreciated.
You recently announced that you are looking for student representatives on the Sustainability Working Group and the Academic Continuity Advisory Group. What are you looking for in applicants? What do you hope that students can accomplish for the greater student body as part of these committees?
ML: I have been leading the effort on that. The Academic [Continuity Advisory] Group, they work to ensure that we can still study and have a productive academic experience despite COVID. They're the people responsible for bringing the canopies [for outdoor gatherings]... As a group, they decide, what are the quarantine procedures for students? How should we expect assessments to be done if you have COVID? So for ACAG, what Student Assembly is looking for [is] someone who knows the campus in terms of the workload that you can have, and preferably someone who is very committed—or overly-committed—to a bunch of different things. We want the busy Hamilton student perspective to be put on there. One of the biggest things people have complained about with COVID is how the work has been just as hard as it usually is, and not because the materials are more difficult, but because there's so many circumstances that affect your ability to focus and do good. For the Sustainability Working Group, they're putting together a carbon neutrality plan for the Board of Trustees, and that's going to be presented in August at that meeting. So for that group, we just expect someone who will exemplify Hamilton's good writing qualities, given that it's a draft, but also someone who is interested in the education aspect of sustainability. A lot of what they're going to be doing is designing a new recycling campaign and a new composting campaign for the campus. That was done already, you might remember our freshman year [2019-2020], but it didn't really stick. They gave out a lot of signs and a lot of magnets that told you how to properly compost, but I think—from Brian Hansen—that campaign was not as successful because now Hamilton has actually more trash that they are dealing with and the situation is that it becomes so expensive to handle the trash that I think now it's sort of gotten attention from a lot of other administrators because of the monetary aspect of it, too. So in looking for someone, we want someone that's committed to making the garbage costs for the college lower, but more importantly, someone who's committed to dealing with the garbage in the first place.
You’ve already had a few general assembly meetings so far this semester, where you have approved student organizations’ strategic budgets for the semester, confirmed Judicial Board nominees, and more. How has it been for you at the head of the Assembly so far? How are you working with the other student representatives and are they supportive of your long term goals?
EJ: I think we've had a really great time working with members of the assembly. And even though we’ve been seeing some resignations, I think it's been very reassuring that those resignations were not because of the Assembly, but rather because of outside matters. We've gotten the full support of anyone who has resigned, which has been very nice to hear that even though they can't be on the Assembly as full members they're still willing to give their support to us when we need them. As a freshman, I was really concerned coming into this that people would kind of be like… me and Marvin and our E-Board couldn't accomplish what they might have expected us to because we are both kind of new to the Assembly and I'm a freshman—I'm new to Hamilton. And we have a lot of people on our E-Board who either are new to the Assembly or to Hamilton. However, I think things have been going really well. I think the chaos of last semester and the previous years has almost motivated us to get even more done in order to reassure everyone that we can not only meet expectations, but exceed them. We hope that because we're coming from the outside, we saw a lot of the problems of SA as outsiders, now that we are in SA, and in such a kind of an honored position, we'll be able to take that experience and use it to make sure that SA’s reputation improves, that SA’s efficiency and transparency improves, and make sure that we are setting kind of a good foundation for future SA future Assemblies and future Administrations, and that this is something that goes past us.
ML: I've had a great time on the Assembly so far. The first two meetings were very stressful, because public speaking before Hamilton was not a skill that I had—I learned all that confidence here. So every time I do have to get up and speak in any group of people, I do get a little nervous. I think, given a lot of resignations, the people that are left are people that truly do care and are committed to bettering the campus. So I think being surrounded by that energy just amplified my energy even more; I became a lot more confident that I could lead and that I could present ideas that people would give honest opinions about. Something that we've talked about that is a big concern to us is the longevity of SA and its long term existence. A lot of the resignations happened in the upper class years, and we are looking to get those vacancies filled, but more importantly, we're trying to engage with the with the first years and the second years of Hamilton, because that's how we're going to ensure that we can have good Assemblies moving forward.
Currently, the only full class delegation is the freshmen class of 2025. Yours was also the only ticket on the ballot for President and Vice President of the whole student body. How do you plan on increasing engagement with the campus and inspire more students to run for office?
EJ: I think one thing that happened with the President-Vice President election is that it was a very unfortunate time where everyone was busy with finals, and not a lot of people had the energy to run a campaign. I can say that it was kind of stressful for us to do it, as well as the other ballot—I guess the other ticket didn't make it to the ballot. Eric [Santomauro-Stenzel] and I spoke to Administration about this, and Marvin and I also spoke to them about possibly changing the time of elections, maybe to be after we come back from break so that there is more energy and opportunity available for engagement. I think something else we're looking to do that we kind of spoke on earlier is to make SA a bigger presence in the lives of students, faculty, administration, so that we're seen as a legitimate body that actually does things. Even if you don't think we do things, we really do. Last semester, we did get a lot of stuff done, we saw the marijuana [sanctions changed] recently, that was something that the former President and the President of 2022 [Jackson Harris] pushed for… My request to increase the budget was geared a lot towards that to make sure that we are having a visibly positive impact on students' lives. And we have created opportunities for students to reach out to us in ways that don't have to be official or formal, but just knowing that we are students as well as students who happen to be on a decision making body. Just making sure we're accessible and we're making visibly positive change in students’ lives: I think that'll help a lot with engagement and making sure that students are willing and motivated to come to us because we show that we were able to listen to their concerns, to make them public, and to follow up and get back to them on them.
ML: The event is a big part of the strategy. Right away with the budget increase the class of 2023 President [Joe Maalouf] reached out to us and wanted to get some events put together. Then a few days after, I think it sort of motivated him to then come back with ideas for a resolution. So I think letting people know that if they serve on the Assembly, they will have the power to bring on fun things like events—and then I think that is what lets people realize that they actually have the power to do more than just events. But that's the strategy: give you power of events, and then you'll realize that there's a lot more power that comes with it.
In October, tour guides and Senior Admissions Fellows voted to form the first student worker union specifically for admissions. In November it was announced that Residential Advisors and Days-Massolo Center Workers also filed for unionization but in December withdrew their petitions with the expectation of refiling this semester. Do you support student worker unionization efforts and how do you expect to interact with current and future unions?
EJ: I think this is the position articulated over the last administration as well, but given that this is clearly what those student workers stand behind, we will also stand behind them in support of whatever they choose to do, which in this case was the union. Regardless of whether or not those are our specific views, as an Assembly, we have the obligation to stand behind what students want for themselves. It's even better that it aligns with what I personally believe… That's something that definitely has our support, I think I can speak for the vast majority of the Assembly. If there's ever a chance for working together, or being able to lend our support to them, I think that is something that we would value the opportunity to do… For increasing student well being, working on issues of equity and fairness is something that's very important. There isn't really an apolitical, apathetic stance on that—we have to kind of actively work to include the members of our community that are being—in this case—are being exploited by their employers, being pushed down on or taken advantage of. If those people feel like they can't get what they want, or what they deserve, from their higher-ups, we are the people who are explicitly here to be able to voice their demands to higher powers. And that's a role I take very seriously, and I'm very honored to have—to advocate for marginalized or exploited students on campus to administrators and to the higher powers that so govern us. I'm actually very excited to see where this union goes. I know the previous administration voiced the desire to have SA become kind of a Student Union. I don't think that's possible with how SA is structured, but I think having an actual union on campus is something I'm very excited to see how it's going to go forward. If we could be of any help, I know we would really value that.
ML: We hold the titles of Vice President and President but that doesn't mean that the way we see the campus is the way we're going to make it. At the end of the day, we're here to listen to students' opinions, and whether I support the student union or not—which I do—but let's say I did or didn't, my role is not to put my opinion into SA, my role is to facilitate the opinion of the student body. So if the majority of the student body wants it, then I would support it.
There are many other student organizations with campaigns for change on campus including divestment from fossil fuels, racial justice, and restoring the College’s relationship with the Oneida Indian Nation. How do you plan on interacting with these organizations during your term? Do you plan on supporting any particular campaigns during your term?
EJ: I think this justice and equity for peoples of all kinds is something that—as two students of color and as queer students—we take very seriously, and it was in our campaign platform. Obviously, there are a lot of things that need to get done right now and it may not be one of our highest priorities at the moment, but I think definitely in the coming weeks, we will start delivering on our promises to provide support to marginalized students. We also want to try to restructure and rewrite the land acknowledgement to something that's a little more active in its acknowledgement of Hamilton College’s wrongdoings in the past, something that is written in collaboration with the Oneida Nation that offers not only an acknowledgement of the past, but a way forward for the future. So in terms of all these social movements, it's definitely something that we want to get behind. As I said before, support for students means support for marginalized students as well, whether it's in Hamilton or outside of. That is a stance that we want to continue taking us in Assembly.
ML: I would just add that [the] Justice and Equity [Committee], they handle not all matters that deal with things about justice and equity, but they've been leading the helm right now, and that has primarily members of the first year delegation. There is a huge passion in there that I think we're going to work with and try to develop over the next couple months.
If you could give me a sentence on what you’re looking forward to this semester, we can wrap this interview up from here.
ML: I'm looking forward to spending more time in this role. I love interacting with all the students on campus—I've gotten to meet at least 100 people this week, just from 10 casual meetings that we have throughout the days. I'm also just really excited to begin to return to a state of normalcy, even if it isn't until the very end of this year. I'm hopeful that will start to be able to provide people a more in-person experience as long as COVID doesn’t worsen.
EJ: I'm looking forward to getting a lot of things done and making students happy in any avenue, whether it's helping students write letters asking for accommodations or helping students have events, I'm just looking forward to improving quality of life on this campus. Also helping clubs get more funding, we have a lot of things in the works right now. If you come to our meetings, or read the minutes, you'll see some of the things we're discussing; but hopefully in the next few weeks, in the next few months, you'll see that stuff start to take shape. As soon as we get rolling, we'll do a lot of work over the summer, and if you're still here for next semester… I'm really looking forward to it. Even though it's a lot of work and it's hard work, it's something that's definitely worth it in the end.