Guest column by Arianna Ngnomire, vice presidential candidate for student government and president of Black Student Union
During the presidential debate March 8, there was an emphasis on my lack of involvement in Student Government Association (SGA). When asked what made him more qualified, my opponent Alex Ballard listed off his accomplishments and titles held in SGA. He mentioned how he was a leader on campus, alluding to the perception that I am not.
I won’t even begin to argue who has more knowledge about SGA, as Jackie Palacios, Ballard and Mitchell Rosenberg have each served for a substantial amount of time. I will, however, argue that I am more involved in Chapman University than my opponents.
I am the lead program assistant of the Cross-Cultural Center, president of the Black Student Union (BSU) and I work as an office assistant in Residence Life. Before that, I was the public relations assistant to the University Program Board. My almost three years at this university has been dedicated to learning about the big picture, and how different organizations on campus work together to provide resources to students.
During my first semester at Chapman, I decided that I wanted to be involved right away. I was given the opportunity to be co-president of the Queer Trans People of Color Collective (QTPOCC). Even as a freshman I didn’t subject myself to sticking to what I already knew. I challenged myself to grow.
I’ve proudly been on the BSU executive board since my sophomore year. Through this organization, I’ve accomplished a lot of great work on campus, including Hops 4 Houston, a volleyball and basketball tournament that funded more than 3,000 meals for the Houston Food Bank after the tragic Hurricane Harvey. Our next goal is to bring a historically black sorority that is part of the “Divine Nine” (the nine historically black sororities and fraternities) to Chapman with help from Greek Life Coordinator Jaclyn Dreschler.
Student organizations are an integral part of this university. The assumption that a leader for the people is unable to do the same job as a leader of SGA underestimates all of the students at Chapman. I have always been a strong force on this campus, and will continue to be a force, whether or not I am vice president of SGA.
I speak out about important issues, not when it benefits my campaign, but when tragedies need to be addressed the moment it occurs. Last year, at the beginning of Black History Month, a student covered the Black Lives Matter flag with an “All Lives Matter” sheet. I waited at the steps of the Leatherby Libraries with a sign that read, “But will you say it to my face?” To my joy (and admitted surprise), then-sophomore political science Alec Harrington came forward as the perpetrator.
At that moment, I had two clear decisions: publicly get angry with him, or take the time to have an open and honest discussion. For me, it wasn’t about convincing Harrington. I’m not sure if I ever will convince him why the Black Lives Matter movement matters. But it was about students who feel like their opinion will not be respected or heard on this campus. I mean what I say that I am determined to represent every Chapman student, because I will listen to every Chapman student.
I hope to have SGA stand behind me next year in order to bring about the following change at Chapman:
- Provide free testing for sexually transmitted infections and diseases once a semester to all students.
- Encourage multicultural Greek organizations to charter at the university to foster and aid in recruiting diverse students.
- Emphasize the need for security precautions at Chapman. Security cameras should be installed in the Lastinger Parking Structure.
- Enhance the transparency and accessibility of SGA information by creating two- to five-minute videos that explain the funding process and summarize senate meetings.
- Purchase new equipment for Memorial Hall so student-run performances and events do not have to rent expensive equipment each time.
If any of these issues interest you, I would appreciate your vote on March 12 at www.chapmanvotes.com. If you have any additional questions that were unanswered from the debate or this column, please feel free to message me on Facebook or Instagram.
To read a column from Ngnomire’s opponent, Alex Ballard, click here.