Esther Shittu ’17, Contributing Writer
On Sunday, Sept. 15 the Student Government Association (SGA) gathered together to have their first meeting of the year. For Chinwe Oparaocha ’14, who recently joined the SGA, and Mitchell Mirtill ’14, the room was filled with a positive atmosphere. According to both Oparaocha and Mirtill, the SGA has the largest group that it has had in the last three years, and for the most part most of the student body was represented. According to Mitchell, “The people on the committee may not necessarily be in your clique or your group but there are people on the committee that are willing to talk to you, willing to listen to you and willing to do whatever it is to help… a majority really do want to serve the student body…we connect on the level that we are all Trinity students and we are here to help everyone.”
Central to wanting to help the student body is SGA President Ambar Paulino ’15. According to Mitchell, Paulino came to the meeting with the idea of giving everybody a voice, “She reminded us that at every meeting she wants us to give our own ideas, she wants feedback, she wants to know what the student body needs…she said that she did not want to push her ideas onto us, she wanted to hear ours first,” Mirtill said. Paulino began by first allowing the SGA to discuss the new search for a President of Trinity College. The SGA members were able to express their ideas about what they wanted in a President. After which they were able to appoint students to a certain leadership position.
According to both Oparaocha and Mirtill, students on the SGA that were interested in being appointed to a committee had to give a speech. The four committees were Academic, Student life, Safety and Awareness, and Elections, Recruitment, and Communication. Going into the meeting, Oparaocha entered with a goal: to be a Chair leader for the Academic Affairs Committee. When asked about her plans for the committee, she proved that she was a woman with a plan, and she was definitely ready to execute it. Her goal as Academic Affair Committee Chair is to “reinvigorate the attention that Trinity gives to Academics.” As a student, Oparaocha realized that in the past years that, “There has been an ineqivical spread of attention to certain aspects of the Trinity community that do not shed light on the good that we have here.”
Oparaocha feels that Trinity has “brilliant people” succeeding in different areas, but the “casual talk about Trinity did not seem to reflect that.” In order to fix this concern, Oparaocha has founded an initiative called Recognizing Academic Achievement (RAA), which will be implemented as a permanent tradition at Trinity. This initiative will “increase motivation or attention to school work and increase pride about our academics here at Trinity College.” Oparaocha has already begun working on this project. The RAA started a type of competition between the classes. The plan is that whichever class has the highest GPA, at the end of the semester, will be recognized by having their flag flown for the spring semester, and those who receives faculty honors (3.367 GPA), will receive a t-shirt. Oparaocha believes that Trinity has brilliant students and that this competition will make such students more recognizable.
Each semester, there will be a RAA plaque stationed in a permanent position on campus where each class is engraved next to the semester they superseded the whole school.
Other than Oparaocha’s goals, the SGA has other plans and ideas that they want to implement for the semester and the school year. Oparaocha will be able to make changes to any Academic documents and any principle that Trinity has surrounding academics. Some of the other SGA plans are to bring back the Bantam Awards, to have a referendum about the changes to the Student Handbook, as well as to have more Hartford Community involvement. Moreover, it seems that as SGA president, Paulino wishes to focus on students’ rights and student representation.
Other than the Academic Affairs chair, which Oparaocha holds, the Safety and Awareness committee is led by Sean Navin ’14. Student Life’s chair leader is Margaret Elias ’17, and Elections Recruitment and Communications’ chair is Aysen Mudderrisoglu ’15.
Although the most recent SGA meeting focused on appointing officers to committees, Oparaocha and Mirtill both agree that this year the SGA wants to focus on making sure that past mistakes are not repeated. They both feel as though last year’s discussions were focused on the wrong things and organizations. Therefore, SGA wants to make sure that this year the conversations should focus on the other issues around campus especially those which have been neglected.