As voting for SGA Elections closes tomorrow, Bwog sent out a few questions to the candidates for SGA President, Madelyn Popkin and Aliza Hassine to help you decide who deserves your vote. You should also make sure to check out all contestant’s platforms on eBear. Remember, even uncontested candidates need a certain percentage of the vote to win, so make sure to check them out as well.
Bwog: What do you think is the most important thing that SGA accomplished this year?
Madelyn: I think that this year’s SGA laid a good foundation for change and a productive relationship with the administration. I also am super psyched about the creation of the GBB [Governing Board at Barnard] and the collaborative and effective work that will be done by the SGA, GBB, and McAc next year as a result!
Aliza: As a member of SGA’s Representative Council for the last three years, I have seen how SGA has struggled to manage both policy initiatives and club governance. Therefore, I definitely think the creation of the GBB is the most important accomplishment this year. The GBB will not only enable SGA to fulfill its’ mission of fostering collaborative relationships and sponsoring all student groups on campus, but it will also create a more successful and accessible club governance system. With that being said, I am sure because it is a new endeavor that it will need room for improvement and growth and will not be perfect from the get go, however, it is a great step in making more transparent and collaborative government.
Bwog: Why did you decide to run for this position? What do you think your most important responsibility would be in this role?
Madelyn: I’m running for SGA president because I want to use what Barnard has taught me to improve our school. I want to be elected because the student body believes in me like I believe in them, because the student body wants me to represent them and work hard for them.
We talk about allyship a lot in LGBTQ contexts, and it’s usually about getting support from allies. But my experience at Barnard has taught me the value of being an ally. I’ve learned that being an ally means being actively engaged in other groups struggles, fostering voices that are under-valued or under-represented, and engaging in self-reflective, honest dialogue. It means always questioning, always changing, and most importantly always learning. I want to bring that concept to the role of SGA president, to be a true ally to all of Barnard’s students, faculty, staff, and administration to make a better Barnard, together.
Aliza: I love this student body and I believe in its ability to be great and exceptional. For the three years that I have worked on SGA as the President of the class of 2014 I have been able to contribute to numerous policy initiatives, however, while I have been able to recognize the great things SGA has done, I have also been able to see where it has failed and where it needs improvement. It is because of my passion and appreciation for the student body that I decided to continue to work on behalf of this amazing community to really fix the problems on SGA to create a more effective government. I’ve devoted my entire college career to SGA and it is something that I believe can really have an impact on the student body and the student body deserve a government that will work for them in the best way possible. Therefore, I do think my most important responsibility in this role will be effectively communicating with the student body to find the policy initiatives that they want to tackle. SGA has always struggled with communication and that is something I hope we can change together.
Bwog: What experience do you have that makes you a good candidate for SGA President?
Aliza: SGA is a very complicated organization that exists in order to serve the entire student body at Barnard. With the restructuring of SGA, I believe that the leadership of SGA really needs to understand how it is going to be changing and how with the new changes, SGA will be expected to interact with the student body. My experience on SGA as the President of the Class of 2014 has enabled me to develop a deep understanding for how SGA works at Barnard and in the greater Columbia community. I believe that I’ve learned and gained the on-the-job experience to successfully usher in a new SGA leadership that will hear and listen to the student voice and effectively work on their behalf. I’ve worked on numerous policy initiatives these past three years as a voting member of SGA and have also planned plenty of events for the Class of 2014 that involved community building. I’ve dedicated myself and my heart to SGA and my experience on SGA is paramount and fundamental for why I am the best candidate for SGA President.
Madelyn: As a transfer student, I’ve only been here for a year and a few months. But I’ve accomplished a lot in that amount of time. What I’m most psyched about is having successfully led Q in getting gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus. I’m also really proud of the dependable, more visible, and supportive queer community I’ve helped to create. Since being here I’ve facilitated leadership retreats, been Q Social Chair and President, worked on the GBB creation task-force, been a Peer Educator for WellWoman, I just learned that I’m receiving a Student Leadership Award, served as a member of Queer Central (a committee of students and administrators who meet monthly to be updated and work on queer issues on campus), and worked with Alumni Affairs on a reunion event.
And I love Barnard.
Bwog: Anything else? Favorite Hewitt meal or study spot on campus? Other fun Barnard fact about you?
Madelyn: I was Student Council President in 5th grade. I’m a big fan of Hewitt and the Diana Center’s pizzas. I really love talking to people so look at my platform, find my facebook page, and come talk to me about your ideas, questions, comments, and concerns!
Aliza: I’ve lived in the quad for all but one semester while at Barnard so I am definitely a frequent Hewitt goer and my favorite food would have to be a wrap with american and swiss cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce – all grilled. It’s pretty basic but still delicious. My favorite spot on campus is definitely Liz’s Place because I love the fact that I will likely always run into someone I know waiting online for coffee and also because it is probably the one place anyone on campus will ever catch me singing just because I love the music Liz’s plays.
This interview has been edited for brevity.