Meet the Fall 2020 Senate candidates!

Read about the candidates for Senate!

Elections will take place on Oleville on Friday, September 18th. For class-year senators, you will only be able to vote for a candidate from your own class year. The others will be open to all students to vote.

Curriculum Senator

Linh Nguyen

Why are you interested in being Curriculum Senator?

I am interested in this position because the curriculum is a large component of St. Olaf and will affect every student no matter what. With the new GE requirement rolling out soon, it would be a great experience in learning more about the changes and be more involved with the faculty and departments at Olaf.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

I would be a good candidate because I was on senate last year as the Ytterboe Hall Senator and was also the Bylaws Chair. I and some other senators made changes to Senate that we saw would benefit Senate by replacing the hall senator position with Class Year Representatives. I have the experience and leadership skills to be in the position and understand the workings of Senate. I am also very outgoing and ambitious and would love to meet and work with more students and faculty to improve whatever people see fit.

Environmental Senator

Clovis Curl

Why are you interested in being Environmental Senator?

I am interested in serving as the environmental senator because I want St. Olaf students and environmental organizations on campus to not only feel heard but truly be heard.

In this position, I would prioritize open communication and transparency between the student government and students on campus. Students and campus organizations should not have to go out of their way to understand what the senate does or how to access their resources. I would actively reach out to environmental student organizations as well as the wider student body with funding opportunities, senate updates, opportunities for open dialogue, and questions about how SGA can better support them. I would be honored to be your advocate.

Often, environmental issues and concerns are tabled when St. Olaf makes financial decisions. While students have been vocal in our support of divesting from fossil fuels for years, St. Olaf has not changed its investment policies. I want to work with SGA and the school’s administration to prioritize divestment so that St. Olaf’s investments finally reflect our values. It’s time for change.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

I have always been passionate about environmental justice. This passion led me to my majors in Environmental Studies and Economics. Now, as a senior, I am not only familiar with the Environmental Studies department and its resources, but involved in multiple environmental groups on campus and connected to the wider Northfield environmental community. These experiences include organizing the 2019 Climate Strike, acting as a liaison to the Northfield Environmental Quality Commission, and sustained self-education of environmental justice issues both on and off campus.

As a leader in the Climate Justice Collective, I have already begun pushing St. Olaf to divest from fossil fuels. I am very familiar with the key obstacles facing divestment and have the background knowledge necessary to propel the divestment movement into the Student Senate.

Perhaps most importantly, I am a good listener and while I have my own ideas for this position, it is the ideas of the student body that I want to hear and uplift. There is a vibrant community of environmental justice advocates on campus, and I would like to amplify their voices. Let’s unite and demand change!

Andy Harrison

Why are you interested in being Environmental Senator?

The environmental crisis is the defining issue of our generation, and likely many generations to come. The all-encompassing nature of the situation we are in cannot be overstated. It is therefore crucial that St. Olaf is a source of positive environmental impact, whether we’re talking about the Natural Lands, our sources of energy, or our investments. It is my belief that we as a community need to focus on the climate crisis, environmental justice, and the carbon, water, and waste footprints of our college, and adequately communicate our concerns to the administration. To do this, we need to elect students into positions that they are knowledgable and passionate about, and when it comes to the environment, I’m just the person for the job.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

I have been invested in the environment for quite some time, and once I arrived at St. Olaf, my passion only grew. In my first year, I was proud to be a part of EnCon and the opportunities that came with it. I’ve learned about how to approach those who are in denial of the environmental crisis, the crisis itself, and the BIPOC disproportionately affected by it. Over the summer and continuing into this school year, I’ve been gifted with the opportunity to be a Natural Lands Technician, learning more about the ecology of the land that surrounds our campus. I think that my passion and continued pursuit of environmental justice will allow me to be an outstanding advocate for environmental interest groups and share the concern of our student body for the environment amid its destruction.

Class of 2024 Senators (3 Positions)

Harry Olander

Why are you interested in being a Class of 2024 Senator?

I am interested in class senator because I care about people. I enjoy talking to people, being around people, and helping people out. This position allows me to do all three and much more. Our world is changing at a faster rate than it ever has. The physical connections we make on this campus especially during the COVID-19 pandemic are imperative. Despite our distancing and masks, we as a community of Oles, need to show off our differences and embrace the differences of others.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

I am a good candidate for class senator because I am a good communicator. I enjoy conversing with people and listening to their thoughts and opinions. I am very hard working and organized, but I also know when to lay back, relax, and have a good time.

Geovani Pena

Why are you interested in being a Class of 2024 Senator?

I have always loved being a part of an organization that would work together to make others feel safe and comfortable. This is an amazing opportunity that caught my eye from the start. I remember when I came to the Fly-In program last November I was asking people how to join the Student Government. This is something very important and interesting to me. Ever since I started High School I was a part of the Student Government because I believed and still believe that everyone’s voice should be heard. That is the same here I want all my peers’ voices to be heard no matter race, sexuality, gender, and etc. My peers have a voice and they need to be heard. I want to be a resource that they can use when they need help or have any issues. I am willing to put my all, so that everyone can be heard especially when issues arise. I am the type of person that will fight for you until you are safe and happy. With me as a Senator I want people to feel comfortable bringing up issues, so I am able to help them out to my full capacity. Also this opportunity would allow me to bring ideas to the table, so that your cultures are able to spread amongst others and become more diverse. I would be able to represent the minorities on campus as a Hispanic I will bring the culture and not just Hispanic culture, but every culture because everyone’s culture is important. We all come from different backgrounds and I believe that it is time to learn more about each other, so we are able to become a greater community.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

Some things that I bring to the table is that I have four years of experience that have taught me so much and have made me who I am today. I was a class representative for three years and became the Student Body Vice President for my whole school. I have always loved working with others and this helped me love it more. I am a very kind and outgoing person which allows others to feel comfortable around me. I also developed quick problem solving skills and became more organized as a person. I am very dedicated and I will not give up till I accomplish my goals. For instance, when I was a senior the Executive Board always fought for our class, so we could make the best of our year especially with Covid affecting our final year. I am willing to put my all to fight for my peers. With leadership experience I had the ability to help other’s voices to be heard. I remember in high school I had to create the maps for our events, create schedules for everyone, and even speaking with other organizations to organize events; which I loved doing so much. Most importantly I have great communication skills which will allow me to easily speak to my peers and the Student Government as a whole whether its regarding issues or ideas being shared and even events that are being planned.

Ben Schwartz

Why are you interested in being a Class of 2024 Senator?

I am passionate about making a difference in my community. I hope to influence my peers to be inclusive and understanding of all different views and Identities, and conversely I also hope to learn from my peers what they experience and how I can help Make there experience at St Olaf better. Even in the midst of such unsteady times as this, I think that we, the students, have the power to help St. Olaf become a welcoming and inclusive place, and I am excited to be a part of realizing that vision!

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

I have large amounts of leadership experience both in extracurricular activities and student council. I also have education specific leadership experience working on the superintendent’s student cabinet, a program designed to promote positive activism and change in my school district. I also interned with my school district in the communications department working on a solution to increase student involvement. These positions have required me to listen to colleagues with different identities and empathize with their unique experiences. In my time on the Student cabinet we implemented programs to engage students in their communities, provide diverse education tracks that provided for different needs, and increase access to information regarding post secondary education opportunities.

Brent Sykes

Why are you interested in being a Class of 2024 Senator?

I feel that it’s a safe bet to say that 2020 hasn’t turned out to be the year that any of us Oles thought it would be. From having to deal with the loss of special events like prom, birthday parties, graduation, etc; to adjusting to life in a post-COVID world; to even having to combat monsters in the form of both racial injustice and natural disasters. For example, the amount of microaggressions that I’ve personally had to experience as a result of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has only aided my character and made me more passionate about taking on an important rule such as that of class senator. To make a long story short, we’ve all been through a lot and we need someone capable of accomplishing a lot. Especially at a school like St. Olaf, where a substantial shake-up in the Ole community hasn’t happened since the occupation of Buntrock in 2017 (Ask about it!). That is why I am proud to say that in this weird period of changing times and new norms it is my goal to help guide the Class of 2024, and more importantly, St. Olaf College as a whole into a more inclusive and successful future.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

While I could go on and on about my various accolades and achievements, every single one of us had to acquire achievements and accolades in order to attend this school in the first place so why bother? Instead I’ll tell you a little about myself. As a black kid from the small town of Chicago, Illinois, I never would’ve thought that I’d end up at a college as prestigious as St. Olaf to begin with. Since childhood I’ve had to deal with a variety of physical, financial, and educational barriers made only more prominent by society and the unfair expectations placed on me. Only through perseverance, hard work, and staying true to myself was I able to make it this far in life. And it’s these same three qualities that I hope to bring to the student government. More importantly, what you see with me is what you get. Honest, to-the-point, even a bit funny depending on how you ask. Though like all of us, I do have my flaws and have made mistakes. But even though I’m by no means perfect, I am able to say that I genuinely care about this place on the hill that I’m lucky to call my home away from home.

Chau Truong

Why are you interested in being a Class of 2024 Senator?

I am a person of color, I am part of the LGBTQ+ community, I am a second-generation American, and I am an Ole. When I first moved into the dorms I did not expect my first college experience to be ambushed by discussions of institutionalized racism within a school we worked so hard to get into. Although St. Olaf is an amazing school and I’m beyond proud to call myself an Ole, I strongly believe this institution can be better through systemic change. I want to work to build an environment where we feel safe, assured, and comfortable to pursue our educational dreams. I believe I can be a strong voice for the student body. And uphold my responsibilities of clear communication between the beautiful class of 2024 and the senate. I will work hard to not only represent my voice but the voice of my class as a constituent.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

Going into this position I will be bringing in pre-learned leadership skills. My high school experience was filled with sports, academic clubs, honor societies, and student government. As my high school senior class president, I was responsible for clear communication between the student body and the administration. This role impacted me greatly and taught me leadership skills I would never learn in a classroom setting. It taught me how to be organized, how to time manage, how to be innovative, and taught me how to be a singular voice for a greater student body. I am going into this position with an open mind, open heart, open communication, and the passion to make a change. Thank you for considering me as one of your 2024 senators. I hope we can work together in solidarity to make a change for a school we can soon call home.

Class of 2023 Senators (2 Positions)

Goldion Nogo

Why are you interested in being a Class of 2023 Senator?

Speaking from personal experience, I think it’s easy to be caught off guard about the things happening around campus. While I often keep myself updated regarding school issues from my friends’ Instagram stories, I wish there was a more “official,” “accessible,” and “organized” platform I could visit to further my understanding about campus. I am interested in the Class of 2023 Senate position because I hope to add some value to the community by being a part of that platform. I want to ensure that students receive answers to their questions, clarity on their confusion, and action to their demands, among all the things they deserve from St. Olaf. . I believe the first step in creating change is making sure that students are well-informed, and I want to make sure that happens.

Secondly, as part of the International Student Body, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ community, I wish to offer my perspective in Senate meetings; not just about issues that the majority are experiencing, but also those of the minority who are often silenced in campus wide discussions(?) . I hope to ensure that the Class of 2023’s thoughts and concerns are heard by the school, not just seen.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

Concise. Transparent. Honest. Committed. Hospitable. As I said, concise.

Class of 2022 Senators (2 Positions)

Kenzie Todd

Why are you interested in being a Class of 2022 Senator?

I have stood as president of every dorm I’ve lived in and I was disappointed that interhall council has been cancelled this year due to COVID. I’m hoping to stay involved in student affairs and SGA by joining the student senate and keeping my peers informed.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

As I stated earlier, I have plenty of experience with organizing and meeting about student affairs because of interhall council. I also plan to join the newly announced community council in my hall, and I think that being in both of those branches would be beneficial for each of them. I also have a dog in my room who can always say hi on zoom.

Class of 2021 Senators (2 Positions)

Zoe Plewa

Why are you interested in being a Class of 2021 Senator?

I am excited about the opportunity to use this platform to advocate for the interests of the Class of 2021! I believe that it is deeply important to contribute to and engage with the St. Olaf College community in a meaningful way, and the position of 2021 Senator is an excellent way to accomplish this mission. The St. Olaf College administration and larger institution need to pursue concrete change. I am hopeful that I can use this position to mobilize and advocate for this change.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

I am passionate about engaging with the student body and advocating for their interests! I am committed to being vocal against the injustices and violence present within our community. I hope to be accessible, informed, and a welcoming figure, and will be active in meeting with individual students and student organizations. I am hopeful that my experiences as a SARN advocate, Title IX Intern, FAMST TA, CompanyDance member, and Philosophy/WMGST/Race major will position me well to think critically about our campus culture, institution, and student interests/needs. I am excited about the possibility of collaborating with my peers in this position and looking forward to all the incredible work that the Class of 2021 is doing!

Sophia Skinner

Why are you interested in being a Class of 2021 Senator?

The impact of recent events on this community is unmistakable. We are challenged in this moment to take a deep inquiry of ourselves, our relationships and our campus at large. What is working for us? What is not working anymore? How can we improve and build upon certain systems to find strength in our differences? It is meaningful to know that the action we take now may help students, now and for years to come, feel more safe and at home here at St. Olaf.
With that said, as a community of individuals and with each new year of students, we will always be changing and adapting. In order to have a system that truly reflects our student body, it is necessary to have a continuous dialogue between students, student government, and the administration at large. I want to be this person for you. The one that listens, supports and bridges the gap between your interests and the interests of our administration.

I believe that if we take the time to meaningfully engage with each other on complex issues, we will be able to synthesize our goals as a community and translate these goals into positive action here on campus. That is why I am proposing the creation of more open forum discussions between students and senate members. These discussions would be based upon a set of questions generated by the senate and would centralize on a particular issue within our community (for example, inclusivity). Ideally, these discussions would have two components: one where students could speak directly to each other in a zoom call hosted by the senate and another where students could share their opinions individually (and potentially anonymously) through a survey. The aim would be to promote greater transparency by offering a space for students to openly share their perspectives without judgment. In addition, the outcome of this type of dialogue would ensure that actions taken by the senate would be directly informed by and reflective of the student body.

This is such an important time in many ways, for the class of 2021 it will be the legacy we choose to leave behind. For me, it is my greatest hope that by the time we graduate, our campus will be more transparent, more sensitive to the lived experience of others, and more unified in the resolve to continue working hard to make those things a reality.

If you want a senator that will listen, make space to amplify student voices, and follow through with a solid plan of action, then vote for me as your class of 2021 representative. It would be an honor to represent you.

What do you think makes you a good candidate for this position?

In 2018 I transferred to St. Olaf from a large state school. Being a transfer student here on the hill has given me a nuanced perspective on both the positive aspects of being on campus and also the negative aspects that need more improvement. The reality is, is that despite where you end up, each place will have its own set of imperfections. I believe that my experience as a transfer student has helped me foster a deep-seated care for this particular community and a drive to want to improve those imperfections for the individuals they may affect.
Beyond this, in the list below I have included a number of relevant experiences that further qualify me as a candidate for this position.

– Currently, I am part of the executive leadership board for the St. Olaf Model United Nations team. My specific position as Conference Coordinator allows me to act as a liaison between the executive board, students, and various other authorities. It requires that I am organized, attentive, and focused on strong communication. All of these skills, I believe, can be directly translated into the student senate position.

– I have experience supporting people’s voices and translating their opinions into campaigns for meaningful action. A couple years ago, I was a Program Facilitator for iMatter Youth Council. Through iMatter I helped high school students mobilize to incorporate more environmental policies in their local city governments. The result of this work empowered individuals and groups to stand up for their beliefs and make a difference in their communities. I see this type of work with facilitation as a key asset for my platform of transparency and communication in the student senate.

– Lastly, in high school, I was a Public Relations Officer of the National Honor Society. In this position I was responsible for outreach to organizations, maintaining an active line of communication between students, and being a support mechanism for those who needed it.