Statements of Purpose from Inclusion Officer Candidates

Campus photo (By Shawna Sherrell, Gettysburg College Flickr.)

Campus photo (By Shawna Sherrell, Gettysburg College Flickr.)

Compiled by Gauri Mangala, Managing Editor

Applicants for the newly instated technocratic position of Inclusion Officer for the Student Senate Executive Board have been asked to submit statements of purpose. Applicants were instructed to “include relevant past experiences or any additional qualifications [they] believe may help [their] candidacy,” according to the Inclusion Officer Application.

The Candidates for Inclusion Officer and their statements of purpose are as follows:

Provided by Student Senate.

Provided by Student Senate.

Alexandros Economou-Garcia ‘22:

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a former Senator and Committee Chair was that representation of different students and groups – especially in student government – matters. Listening to the concerns of my peers has allowed me to bring in new perspectives to the Senate, and has changed the outcomes of budgets, amendments, and more. One of those was the voting down of an amendment making Senate attendance optional for club representatives, which would have diminished a diverse range of perspectives within the Senate.

I believe that more efforts must be made regarding transparency on topics of diversity and funding between the administration and students. I have been an avid supporter of expanding inclusion and have been one of the few students to push these issues both in and out of the Senate. I wish to continue my work and help bridge the gap between marginalized identities and Senate. Other than being a Senator, I have held other leadership positions throughout my time on campus. For example, I served as Diversity Chair of Senate, where I learned that there are still many opportunities to be addressed on campus in regard to diversity and inclusion. One of my biggest achievements as Diversity Chair was pushing for dialogue between members and non-members of Greek Life to provide better communication and relations between both groups. Additionally, I have pushed for greater recognition for neurodiverse students by being an advocate for the creation of an Office for Student Disabilities. As Inclusion Officer, I will help in bridging the gap between marginalized identities and the Student Senate through outreach, communication, and partnership. I believe that the Senate has the ability, through this position, to adequately work for all students.”
Provided by Student Senate.

Provided by Student Senate.

Lucas Toglia ‘22:

“I am running to be the first Inclusion Officer because I believe I possess the skills necessary to set a strong precedent for this position. I am very passionate about inclusion. I previously interned for a consulting firm aimed at my college and universities more inclusive, helping them create an implicit bias training. It is from my professional experience and knowledge from having an immigrant LatinX mother who has worked in D&I and her entire career making organizations more inclusive from the NBA to MTV. I can bring these ideas to the student senate. I already have been doing this work. As a member of the Diversity Committee, I co-introduced measures to create diversity training for Gettysburg and now at the Chair, I am working to improve to make it a more effective training. In addition, as chair of the committee, I am working to have our senate members take the IDI and the Harvard Implicit Bias Test. I believe that with real reforms we can make our Student Senate a more inclusive organization and a place where everyone can feel that they can contribute and do great work. Ultimately, I am a results-oriented person. I have a record of getting things done, additionally, as the Co-Chair of the Academic and Career Affairs Committee, I was instrumental in the implementation of the new Business Major and passing of the Data Science minor. I believe that if we come together to make our senate a place where everyone is heard and genuinely feels welcome, we can make the Student Senate a stronger force to represent the entire student body. I am running for the position because I believe I can set that precedent for the position to ensure that we do exactly that.”

Provided by Student Senate.

Provided by Student Senate.

Daniel Jones ‘22:

“Gettysburg College is in a time of dramatic and immeasurable social change. While the circumstances of COVID have of course shown this even more so, I speak of a social change which began in the way of many different inequities, in time, revealing themselves and thus shining a new and much-needed spotlight unto the racial and ethnical inequalities of this institution. I love my academics at Gettysburg, and I believe it to be a well-meaning college, devised in order to grant purposeful and meaningful education to those who attend it, however, I also see the realities and inequities of which only work to inhibit this mission. In our 4 years here, we all have a duty in order to give a voice to the voiceless; to make the minorities heard. Moreover, the student senate has the power to provide beneficial social change to do so. I would love to be granted the opportunity to serve as the Inclusion Officer to the student body, so that I may utilize my experiences, leadership roles, and skills, in order to be a part of the senate executives that can headline this change.

To be quite blunt (as we are in a time where the mission is often lost in the word count), if there is somebody running against me for this position who is of color, a woman, or someone who well represents this campus’ minority groups to the utmost extent possible, then please choose them. While I believe that this position, if run by a white male, can not be executed in the complete way of which it is built for, I am afraid that the only people who may apply, may exist within that category. If done successfully, this position is meant to bring minority groups into the spotlight of the senate and of the college administration. Said simply, it should be the goal of the inclusion officer to bring more women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and people of non- Christian religions into the senator roles, and into the executive board as well. That is my primary goal, and I do think that I have the qualifications and skills needed in order to succeed in such an important mission. For two years, I have served as the president of the Muslim Student Association and The Interfaith Student Council. I am also currently the chair for the Peace and Justice Student Council’s Leadership Development program and I am amongst a small group of religiously diverse peoples serving as this year’s Interfaith Students Fellows. Everything I do at Gettysburg is in the name of diversity, representation, and equity. Everything I do, I do for other groups that I see dying off, being pushed over, or otherwise, and I believe that my references would only back this up.

Diversity does not only come in the way of color, nor gender, nor creed. However, I believe that the college is currently in a place in time in which those baseline differences must be addressed first and foremost. As the Inclusion Officer, I wish to extend some of the smaller diversity projects I have helped to conduct in a campus-wide effort. I am currently headlining a diversity and inclusion training program for all of the tour guides, and all of the admissions staff and workers in order to be able to better represent the situation of minority groups on campus. This is something that, with the help of the GLC, The Bias Awareness Committee, and others, that could easily be applied to the rest of the student body. The majority of my plans, if chosen, however, revolve around an operationalized form of something called “contact theory.” I firmly believe, that when majority and minority (and sometimes opposing groups) are able to interact and to talk with one another to a great extent outside of their normal and super-naturalized interactions with one another, that they are able to grow immensely. We should never encourage students to overcome differences, as this only makes students suppress the differences within the campus community. Instead, we need to teach students to be able to effectively address their differences in order to then grow from them together, in a safe space which allows them to continue these important conversations long after any senate-organized event. Intercultural movie nights, zoom trivia games, crash courses between different departments, crash courses on different inequities, healthy debates, and open forums, and many other methods/activities could be utilized in order to bring these diverse and differing student demographics together. This is all that I have devoted myself to on campus, ever since I first arrived. In turn, I will continue to fight for this, long into the future regardless. I have the leadership positions in minority and affinity groups, and in this, I have learned greatly not only from my successes but also from my many shortcomings. It is not easy to lead in a position specifically meant to promote and educate a diverse group on the basis of diversity itself, and it is especially difficult to do so as a white male. However, if given the chance, I would love to assist the student senate in any way of which I could be useful. I would like this opportunity, as I see that the senate now, more than ever, has an incredibly timely and crucial chance to leave a lasting and impactful social change that provides the future generations of Gettysburg College students a more equitable and representative “playing ground.” The student senate must change the harmful pedagogy which has constrained minority groups on campus for decades, and we must do it now. More than anything, I hope that whoever is selected, is someone who is ready to start this process of change now, and who is ready for one of the biggest challenges of their life, as it will not be easy- no matter who is chosen.

I would like to thank you all for the consideration for this position, and I hope to work with you all to some length in the future. Thank you, and I really do hope that you are all staying both mentally, and physically healthy as can be.”

 

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Author: Gauri Mangala

Gauri Mangala '21 currently serves as the managing editor for the Gettysburgian. Gauri is originally from Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Aside from her work with the Gettysburgian, Gauri is the treasurer for the Owl and Nightingale Players. She is a double major in Theatre Arts and Anthropology.

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