SA President Saphire Ruiz Challenges Hamilton Administration In State of the College Address
SA President Saphire Ruiz spoke live on Facebook earlier this week in the first State of the College Address in years. Ruiz discussed a variety of changes and initiatives for this semester, including the new Mental Health & COVID-19 Student Task Force, the planned establishment of a Campus Safety review board, and the restructuring of the SA Sustainability Committee.
Most strikingly, however, Ruiz directly challenged several decisions recently made by the college administration. Noting that they had been denied access to the College’s official Facebook page to make their address (the speech was broadcast through the SA Facebook page , Ruiz questioned whether “a less activist-oriented SA President like my predecessors would also be denied this opportunity to speak to the full campus community”.
Ruiz continued with criticism over the administration’s lack of transparency, citing decisions made by the College in March of last year to no longer make Senior Staff biweekly meeting minutes publicly available, as well as to pull all Trustee events from 25Live. Ruiz stated that these actions were taken in “the week following a climate protest where it was found that (the administration) changed a Trustee meeting location to avoid student protests.”
The speech continued with a discussion of the Advisory Council established during the Black Lives Matter protests of last summer, which contains only two student representatives and no binding agreements by the College to implement any proposed changes.
The Address sets an unapologetically direct tone for the incoming SA administration, which campaigned on an ambitious and detailed platform of “advancing the interests of the students of Hamilton College to the fullest extent possible”. As Ruiz states at the end of their address, “We are not here at the invitation of the College; we were elected by the students, and we only answer and hold ourselves accountable to the students”.
Earlier this week, The Monitor hosted an interview with President Ruiz and their administration and discussed a variety of topics on campus, including mental health, climate justice, and free speech. You can read it here.