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Akinwunmi and Tracey win SGA election, announce plans for 2013-14 term

By Deana Hasandjekaj
On March 4, 2013

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, the Student Government Association announced that Deborah Akinwunmi and Jane Tracey will be the next pair to represent the Marist student body in SGA. Akinwunmi, a junior, will become the next Student Body President while Tracey, a junior, will hold the position of Executive Vice President. 

SGA is getting a new office next year due to construction. With a new home base, Tracey expressed her interest in creating a better environment for students to enter.

"I want to be able to be open with students," she said. "I know that student government is a place where some people don't feel comfortable coming into. The office can come across as intimidating. I want to make it more welcoming."

Akinwunmi and Tracey devised a five-point plan that they hope to implement for the 2013-2014 academic year. First on the agenda is to create a partnership with Terracycle, a company located in New Jersey.

"This program is basically a recycling initiative," Tracey said. "We would send in things that are not typically recycled and they would up-cycle them into things like backpacks made out of Capri Sun packages."

According to Akinwunmi and Tracey, for every item students donate, they give Marist one penny that can be used to donate to the charity of its choice.

"We want to buy Terracycle bins and have the company collect them every month or so," Akinwunmi said.

The second major point on the five-point plan is to improve and expand the Marist Money system. Akinwunmi and Tracey both stated that many companies have recently dropped out of Marist Money due to the updated system.

"There is a learning gap between the updated system and the companies who have it," Akinwunmi said. "They don't necessarily understand the new system. We want to find ways in which we can educate them and also expand the Marist Money system."

Specifically, Akinwunmi and Tracey want to encourage more companies to use the Marist Money system.

"We want to try to get student discounts in Poughkeepsie and areas around it," Tracey said. For example, by simply showing your college ID, you can possibly receive a small discount at a local business.

Third on the agenda is to have a "Major Declaration Celebration." Akinwunmi expressed that the importance of declaring your major.

"It is such a pivotal decision in your college career that you should be celebrating," Akinwunmi said. The Major Declaration Celebration would include students receiving picture frames, having their photos taken, and possibly receiving a color-coded tag stating the school in which they belong to. "This will also give students the opportunity to network with professors teaching in the student's school," said Akinwunmi.

The fourth task Akinwunmi and Tracey want to accomplish is to bring back the Marist yearbook. Akinwunmi stated that the yearbook has been gone for over 5 years and that she is hoping that it will make a comeback.

The final point in the five-point plan is to create a student enrichment program. Comparing it to the Red Fox enrichment program, Akinwunmi said that this program would be free of charge and taught by qualified students.

"Students can apply to something they are extremely passionate about or something they feel adequate enough to teach," Akinwunmi said. The goal of this program is to promote overall student growth and development; these classes would be offered for a five-week program during the spring.

Outside of the five-point program, Akinwunmi expressed interest in bringing back and continuing several other programs.

The first program she hopes to continue is the Red Fox Den, a program started by Andrew Paulsen, the SGA president of two years ago.

"We want to look into making the Red Fox Den a permanent, ongoing program that brings together a lot of different clubs over the weekend for kids who do not necessarily want to go out," Akinwunmi said. Tracey and Akinwunmi believe that this program will give students more options over the weekends.

Akinwunmi also hopes to bring back the Marist Civility Campaign, which occurred during her freshman year.

"The purpose of the club is to promote civility within the Marist College campus," she said. "We have to hash out the details and figure out what exactly that means."

Finally, Akinwunmi hopes to continue the Hudson River Committee that was started up last semester by resident senator Maggie Crateau.

"This committee pretty much exposed students to cool things that were happening in the Hudson Valley community," Akinwumni said. "Two major things that they did was take students apple picking and to a pickle fest."

Akinwunmi is currently the president of the class of 2014 and has been for three years. Tracey holds the position of Senate Speaker. Both have held a variety of different events to improve upon Marist's campus, such as Sundaes and Suggestions and the Gartland Haunted Trail.

Akinwunmi was thrilled when she found out she had won the election.

"I think I was shocked. I think I'm still shocked," she said. "I was shaking a little, which surprised me. There were a lot of feelings and emotions at once."

Tracey described a similar reaction.

"I pretty much started screaming and crying a little bit," Tracey said. "I was holding hands with my housemates and girls who helped us through this whole thing. It was great because I got to turn to them and hug each one of them."

Akinwunmi and Tracey hope to show students how hard they are willing to work.

"I want to have a dual role of being assertive and that we're serious about what we're doing," Akinwumni said. "I also want to put on an endearing side as well."

"I have a real passion for Marist College and the students here," Tracey added. "I love getting to meet people. As a child I was not outgoing at all, and I've kind of grown into myself once I got to college."

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