Female duo to lead SGA


Two SGA committee chairs run unopposed for SGA President and Vice President as the first female duo since 2006, according to the department of Student Life webpage. 

Junior Maddie Henson, chair of the committee on student action and well-being, and sophomore Sarah Wood, chair of the committee on legislative and community affairs, plan to prioritize communication to students about available resources on campus and increase transparency, Henson said.

“Both candidates, Sarah Wood and Maddie Henson, they’re like powerhouses; they know exactly what they want [and] have always had a really powerful voice,” said SGA Elections Chair Shirin Dravid, a senior. “We all just agreed that it didn’t make sense for anyone else to run.”

Other SGA members chose not to run for the positions because they believe Henson and Wood feel passionate about the SGA senate and care about student initiatives, Dravid said.

Maddie Henson, Presidential Candidate

Henson served on the Title IX internship committee as the sexual violence education project coordinator from April 2021 to late October 2021, and helps with UVM Extension to improve on publicizing their agricultural and environmental resources, she said. 

UVM Extension brings together higher education, research and outreach to help Vermonters apply what they’ve learned in their families, homes, farms, companies, towns and the natural world, according to the UVM Extension webpage.

Additionally, Henson intends to highlight issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion throughout her term as SGA President, she said.

“Are we helping them logistically but not going into the white saviors complex?” Henson said. “Are we doing these things that actually benefit the community and help BIPOC communities beyond just saying that we’re diverse and support all cultures?”

Henson believes the University has a promising foundation for sustainability, but still lacks an Indigenous voice to ensure that BIPOC students have the power to make decisions in every space on campus, she said. 

“Speaking as an Indigenous woman, I think we can really revamp the conversation around things like land grants and stuff like that,” Henson said. “This may be a controversial opinion, instead of decolonizing, let’s indigenize and let’s bring Indigenous people to the table.”

Henson co-founded the Indigenous People’s Collective and received anonymous funding of $100,000 to build a statue honoring Indigenous people, according to a Nov. 21, 2021 Cynic article.

Henson worries she and Wood will not be listened to or taken seriously, she said. 

“We’re the first potential women duo in the first 15 years,” Henson said. “So I’m wondering how that’s going to affect everything.”

Henson wants to highlight mental health resources and what lies within the University’s control in addressing issues, she said. 

Many students claim CAPS is underfunded, but Provost Patricia Prelock has always approved CAPS funding requests, Henson said. Issues with CAPS stem from an inability for the University to find mental health providers to employ. 

“[It] needs to be better communicated to the student body that some of [UVM’s issues are] just literally out of the University’s control,” Henson said.

After communication and mutual respect across the board improve, other projects SGA struggles to complete will fall into place, she said. 

“I want to leave the student community better than how I found it,” Henson said. “I thank all the students who have come to me and anybody who has worked with me professionally in the past, thank you for trusting me.”

Sarah Wood, Vice Presidential Candidate

Wood began her involvement with SGA during her first year, she said. She works with Student and Community Relations to build relationships with students and the community of Burlington.

The Office of Student and Community Relations provides UVM students with information and support as they make the move to living off-campus and works to make it easier for students and non-students to communicate, according to the Office of Student and Community Relations webpage. 

“I’m running for Vice President because I think that SGA has a lot of work to do in terms of how we perceive ourselves versus how the student body perceives us,” Wood said. “I’m really excited to get started on that work and make a change at my university.”

Students are unaware of many resources the University offers, fueling student frustration and the belief that such resources don’t exist, which could be improved by SGA better communicating with LivingWell, Wood said.

Wood talked to students who work with the Student Accessibility Services department about the lack of advocacy for students with disabilities or accommodations on campus and in the classroom, she said. 

“When there are issues in the classroom, students don’t know what resources they have available to them to bring that to someone higher up,” she said. “A teacher could just discriminate against you and then, because you’re so scared, you don’t say anything about it and it just keeps happening.”

Wood’s favorite project was granting students CatCard access to the laundry room in the Harris-Millis Residence Hall to prevent the fire alarm from going off as frequently. Within three days of reaching out, someone from ResLife granted CatCard access and the alarm has gone off less, Wood said.

Students used to prop the door open in Harris-Millis to allow others to get in, which regularly set off the fire alarm, according to an April 9 email from Wood. 

“I wanted to make a real change on my campus, especially because I did not have a great experience in my K-12 education,” she said. “So I really wanted to make sure that I could impact some people’s college experiences.”

Campus-wide voting for the 2022-23 SGA President and Vice President took place on the UVM Clubs website from April 7-8, according to the SGA webpage

Henson and Wood will be sworn in April 12, according to an April 10 email from Dravid.