The Winning Team Weighs In

After their big win during last week’s SGA elections, the newly elected president, Kesha Ram, and pice president, DaVaughn Bryan, sat down for an interview with The Cynic. Vermont Cynic: You’ve mentioned the idea of a co-presidency a few times. Is this going to be an institutional change you are going to pursue, or just a mindset for your term in office?Kesha Ram: Every pair of students elected to serve as president and vice president will approach this differently. First of all, we were lucky enough to be elected as a ticket and, second of all, we have known and respected each other for nearly four years. We are still figuring out how this will look since we don’t want to confuse people who are used to the current institution. We both have highly complementary leadership styles and experiences in serving the student body and are both capable of fulfilling either role, therefore it makes sense for us to fulfill both and divide the work on a more egalitarian basis.VC: You were the big supporters behind the new Committee on Diversity and Environmental Issues, what else can we expect in your term addressing these issues?KR: We recently passed a renewable energy fund initiative that still needs to be advocated for until passed by the Board of Trustees, thus I have my work cut out for me in that respect. The faculty diversity curriculum, which will be monumental and will require continued student oversight. DaVaughn and I have very high profiles in the ALANA community and I am well-known by the environmental students, so we really look forward to their suggestions. We’re not going to push our own agendas with respect to these issues as much as serve as a link for others.VC: Apart from diversity and environmental issues, what other issues are of primary importance to you?KR: Every issue is important to me, but that is of second-ary concern to facilitating progress in respect to the is-sues that are important to the student body. Therefore, it is important to me that we rebuild bridges to the students by increasing SGA’s communication and visibility. For example, we will begin using the presidential e-mails to inform students of the bills we are working on in Senate, their sponsors and the pertinent information we receive from administrators. We also want to experiment with student forums where they have the opportunity to voice their concerns straight to key administrators on issues like police relations, student safety and campus planning. VC: In the same light as the student safety, the residents of Burlington are beginning to mobilize against the stu-dents in regards to the noise. This has been suggested by candidates that ran for SGA and many others in the city as having resulted from the dry dorm policy. Thoughts?KR: Noise problems have always been a wedge between UVM and Burlington residents. I would be interested in assessing the effects of the dry dorm policy to see how much the noise has increased because of it, but I would not feel comfortable saying it was the cause of resident mobilization. No one has the secret to solving this problem, but it is important that this issue is carried over on SGA from one year to the next and that communication is maintained with downtown residents. DaVaughn and I will oversee this transitional process and appoint the most qualified chair of the Committee on Legislative Affairs to take over where Chair Scott McCarty has left off.VC: How is your relationship going to be with the other candidates, especially with many of them vowing plans to run for chair of committees?KR: Oh, if only we could answer that question with certainty! There is no way to know which positions other candidates will pursue and whether they will be the most qualified to serve in those roles. DaVaughn and I agree that we want to pick the people that are best suited for leadership on the Executive Committee. Our hope is that other candidates do not inhibit SGA’s progress if they don’t get their way. Many of them stand a good chance for leadership because a major part of the decision will be based on experience and tenure, but there is no way of predicting right now.VC: You were the big supporters behind the new committee on Diversity and Environmental Issues, what else can we expect in your term addressing these issues?DaVaughn Bryan: The Senate will soon be discussing the American Red Cross, their policies and how they may disenfranchise specific students. I plan on ensuring that this process is one based on factual and concrete information. The status of women and campus safety is also a concern to be addressed in the upcoming year. However, as Kesha and I are charged with the responsibility of advocating for students, we look forward to students sharing their concerns with us.VC: You are the first ALANA team of president and Vice President. What does this mean to you?DB: As the first ALANA co-presidential team, it is my belief that our election brings a wider breadth of voices to the table. We not only represent the student leaders, environmental activists and those who actively promote and work towards social and institution change; We also represent the minority groups across the campus, the LGBTQA community, those who use ACCESS resources as well as students of color – to name a few. We wish to advocate for the broadest spectrum of student needs as possible.VC: In the past year there have been problems with student safety. In what ways do you plan on addressing this reoccurring issue?DB: I believe that the plans being initiated by the Student Action Committee have strong promise; I would like to provide more support to this committee and other senators who have brought innovative ideas to the table. It is my charge to empower, mobilize and organize the senate and student body as there is no one answer that will solve this issue; however, I believe resolutions can be found through continued dialogue driven by those who have an invested desire to have a mutually beneficial goal.VC: What plans do you have to stay connected with the students?DB: There are several ways by which we intend to stay connected to the student body. Firstly, we have each intently chosen our living locations. Kesha will be living off-campus and I on-campus, in order to remain connected to both on-and-off-campus students. I would also like to amass what I call the President’s Council. This Council will be an open forum that Kesha and I will convene monthly with the intent to have informal conversations with the leaders of the SGA’s 140 student groups. I also foresee the Senate hosting more programs that directly engage students, whether this be an SGA hosted partly or setting up tables at which students can ask questions, give feedback, learn more about the SGA and how we might serve you.VC: How is your relationship going to be with the other candidates, especially with many of them vowing plans to run for chair of committees?DB: Neither I nor my co-president have any ill thoughts or feelings towards any of the individuals who opposed us in this election. As for their intentions for applying for com-mittee chairs, Kesha and I will review all applications and select the individuals who best support the goals of the committees in question and the SGA as a whole.