Guest column by Jackie Palacios, presidential candidate and student organizations senator
This past weekend, The Panther endorsed my running mate, Arianna Ngnomire alongside my opponent. It expressed that the platform of diversity was important and how her outside perspective could add to the current Student Government Association (SGA), which is true. However, it could not let go of the notion that Mitchell Rosenberg would do a better job than I would, simply because he has held the position before. In response, I would like to say three things:
- The answer is simpler than you think.
- Every voice matters.
- Change is not a one-woman job.
The answer is simpler than you think.
If you want to elect someone who is involved with the Chapman community, then pick the people who are most involved. I have served as the vice president of Chapman Feminists, internal communications chair of M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx De Aztlán) and co-director of a Theatre for Social Change organization.
Within SGA, I have served as College of Performing Arts senator, student organizations senator, and diversity affairs chair. I have run multiple events across cultures and disciplines on campus. I am on the Ethnic Studies planning committee. I am in the Chapman Diversity Project for the Advancement of People of Color.
I am the founder of the new Chapman branch of the nonprofit Artists Striving to End Poverty, which will bring students together to discuss art’s role in social justice, and will provide international internships across all fields of humanitarianism. I am the creator of the Chapman Safe Walk program that will help increase campus safety. I am a hard worker. I have always been involved and will always stay involved, whether or not I am elected – but the answer really is simpler than you think.
Every voice matters.
No Chapman student should feel unworthy of a student government position. Ngnomire and I are running for SGA because we are students, and our voices deserve to be heard. At the debate March 8, our moderators asked, “What is the biggest issue facing the university today?” and our opponents answered that it is a lack of academic resources for students, while my running mate and I answered “a lack of diversity.”
It is true that our platform addresses some discomforting facts: Black students account for only 1.4 percent of the student population, and the sum of all indigenous identities is even lower. As diversity affairs chair, I have felt a lack of support from Rosenberg when it comes to issues of diversity, and diversity will continue to be an issue if we keep ignoring these uncomfortable discussions. Our platform is “For the People” because we acknowledge that these positions in SGA exist not to hold the mic and speak for certain communities, but to pass the mic and listen.
Change is not a one-woman job.
I will not let the opinion of The Panther staff divide our ballot or divide our friendship. Ngnomire and I have worked tirelessly to create a platform that encompasses the needs of all students. We support each other in our efforts to create change and we work well together. We decided to run on a ticket because we want to focus on the issues of diversity, sustainability and student health on Chapman’s campus – together.
We have already incorporated these values. We decided to go completely paperless to emphasize our passion for sustainability, and we used campaign photos and videos that featured a diverse range of students who believe in us. The student body needs leaders who can easily cooperate and dedicate their energy to fighting for shared goals. Ngnomire and I have those goals set. We want free testing for sexually transmitted infections and diseases for Chapman students, we want more cameras in student parking lots, we want to find ways to be a more sustainable campus and we want to have more transparency with the students who we represent. These goals are not abstract ideas or lofty thoughts. They are positions that we stand by, together.