Opinion | Experience matters

Guest column by Alex Ballard, vice presidential candidate and speaker of senate

Alex Ballard, vice presidential candidate and speaker of senate

Reflecting on my two years at Chapman, I have had the pleasure of getting to know students from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds. Being a student in both Wilkinson College and the Argyros School of Business and Economics (ASBE), as well as the University Honors Program, I have enjoyed studying and collaborating with students across campus in an interdisciplinary environment. While commuting this year and working two jobs – one on campus and one off – I gained a new perspective on student concerns. On a personal note, I have witnessed immense struggles with mental health in my own family over the past two years, further driving me to fight for Chapman students facing these same issues.

I am the best candidate for this position, and my experience representing all students is a critical detail that has been left out of the narrative. I served as both the director of recruitment and academics chair for the pre-law fraternity Kappa Alpha Pi, I am a member of the Honors Advisory Board, and the vice president of advocacy for Morlan Hall in Residence Life. With all of this in mind, I fully reject the notion that I only know student government and not Chapman as a whole. I recognize the importance of a diverse group of voices, student organizations and interests in creating a stronger campus community.

I have also had the pleasure of serving the student body in the Student Government Association (SGA) since I first came to Chapman in the fall of 2016. Since then, I have advocated for reforms to our General Education program, more active student engagement in SGA and better academic resources and study spaces on campus. Serving as speaker of senate this past year, I have worked tirelessly for the student body and committed myself to understanding all aspects of SGA’s operations. I believe that this experience is critical to continuing the upward trend of SGA.

It is a misconception that the vice president of SGA simply assists the president. In fact, there are several unique responsibilities separate from the president – such as internal operations – that I firmly believe necessitates experience to administer the organization properly. The vice president is responsible for training all senators, forming committees and directing student concerns that are received to the appropriate senator or department, all while advocating for students. It requires an intricate understanding of the broad functions of SGA, something I have gained from serving in senate for four semesters.

At the presidential debate March 8, I was troubled to hear that my opponent for vice president was not aware of the existing Elections Committee in SGA, a small fact that speaks to the importance of experienced leadership. Most importantly, the vice president serves as a mentor to all senators, connecting them with the right people and resources, and guiding them in the face of challenges. I can confidently say that these duties would be nearly impossible to fulfill without experience in the organization.

I will represent all students. I have made meaningful connections with students, organizations and departments across campus. I will continue to advocate for additional academic resources and study spaces that are critical to the students’ success, while my opponent hasn’t mentioned any academic goals in her platform.

If elected, I am committed to working alongside my running mate, President Mitchell Rosenberg, to ensure that the new mental health program this fall is effective. Most importantly, and most relevant to the position of vice president and the future of SGA, I will ensure that we reach out to students and continue to hear and resolve their concerns.

I am lucky to have played a part in so many remarkable changes this year that have transformed our organization. I strongly believe that without strong, experienced leadership in SGA, the organization will begin to falter and revert back to an organization that doesn’t live up to its full potential, resulting in much-needed changes never coming to fruition.

To read a column from Ballard’s opponent, Arianna Ngnomire, click here.