Initiatives include tuition freeze, mental health, diversity
As the Student Government Association (SGA) presidential campaign comes to a close, candidates are advocating for diversity, financial transparency, and sustainability on campus. Kyle Bennett (‘23), along with vice presidential candidates Kismet Kohn (‘24) and Kiersten Sudlow (‘23), are running against Daniel Elliott (‘23) and Akheem Mitchell (‘23). Voting closes at 12 p.m. on Mar. 19.
Bennett, Kohn, and Sudlow
Bennett has been an active member of SGA since 2019 and is the current academic affairs chair. Throughout the 2019-20 academic year, he was elected to be one of three freshman senators alongside his vice presidential opponent, Akheem Mitchell.
“What the student body needs right now in my opinion is a bold, outspoken, and unapologetic advocate who isn’t afraid to be that check on the college administration,” said Bennett. “At the most fundamental level, setting aside even platform and policy… is what this election is about, and that’s why I’m running.”
Bennett chose his running mates based on their similar viewpoints and motivated personalities. Sudlow has two years of experience as a member of SGA and is the current finance chair on the executive board. Kohn is a third-generation Rollins student and staff writer for The Sandspur.
Bennett approached Kohn with an offer to co-run after he read her Sandspur article on course registration. She does not have prior experience in SGA.
“I never truly considered running for SGA simply because I dislike competitions and campaigns, thus I have no prior experience in SGA,” said Kohn. “But I see that as a benefit, since I’m coming in with a fresh look at problems that others may be desensitized to.”
Sudlow began her work with SGA as a Residential Life and Explorations senator from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020. In Spring 2021, Sudlow became the finance chair, where she has worked on the FoxFunds committee since Fall 2019. Sudlow is also the acting manager of a small business.
“Kyle, Kismet, and I share a common goal of transforming how SGA is perceived by the student body,” said Sudlow. “SGA is not here to serve SGA—we are here to serve the students, and we want them to know that when they run into walls or are experiencing problems within the campus […] we are here to bring your voice into conversations at a higher level on campus.”
One of Bennett’s campaign focuses is mental health, specifically related to CAPS. Benett wants to reform the mental health system on campus to make it more student-friendly.
“As somebody who has struggled with depression and mental health problems in the past, I know I’ve often felt that the system provided by the college isn’t adequate,” said Bennett in his campaign video. When he tried to schedule a CAPS appointment after the passing of Son Nguyen, he said that CAPS told him to come back in two weeks. “Two weeks doesn’t help me when I’m in this situation,” said Bennett.
One of the main goals of the Bennett, Sudlow, and Kohn ticket is to advocate for fair tuition prices. Bennett has previously helped sponsor and author a bill advocating for a tuition freeze on campus, and he wants to continue to advocate for a guaranteed tuition price upon admission to Rollins.
The trio also hopes to focus on sustainability, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and improved dining experiences on campus.
Bennett, Sudlow, and Kohn are currently endorsed by Dexter Hargrett (‘24), parliamentarian of the freshman class senate; Omar Sadek (‘23), President Pro Tempore and sophomore class senator; and Caroline Powell (‘21), SGA events chairwoman.
“I feel very fortunate to be running with and against impressive candidates; the student body really can’t go wrong. I want the student body to elect who they see as the best candidate to improve the college’s issues that matter most,” said Kohn.
Elliott and Mitchell
Elliott began this school year as the President Pro Tempore and is now the vice president of SGA since the resignation of the prior VP in early February. In addition, Elliott has served as the Rollins Hall gateway ambassador, institutional advancement senator, and sophomore senator. He won the title of SGA Member of the Year at the 2020 Rollins Student Achievement Awards banquet.
“Everything I’ve worked on has been to benefit the students I represent and the generations of students yet to come, and, hopefully, we’ll leave a legacy of hard work that outlasts our lives,” said Elliott.
Elliott chose Mitchell to be his running mate because of his diverse connections with multiple student organizations.
“I picked Akheem because he brings an invaluable perspective to SGA…We have both, in our own ways, fought for the students who need their voices heard the most, underrepresented students who often get the short end of the stick,” said Elliott.
Mitchell is currently a sophomore class senator, and he was a freshman class senator for the 2019-20 academic year alongside opposing presidential candidate Bennett. In addition, Mitchell is currently the treasurer of the Black Student Union.
One of the duo’s main goals is to represent minority communities. They plan to establish a presidential task force on equity, which will combine student representatives from the LGBTQ community, students of color, and students of lower-income groups.
The goal of this task force is to “collaborate on how to make Rollins a better place for all,” said Elliott.
Elliott and Mitchell are also fighting for a tuition freeze on campus to ensure that students know what their tuition cost will be when they commit to the college.
The candidates are dedicated to ensuring the representation of international students.
“I created a committee in SGA that was specifically tasked with finding a space for international students to have their home countries represented […] now, the committee is securing a location for that, as well as a place for an international student lounge,” said Elliott.
Other initiatives Elliot and Mitchell are fighting for include comprehensive SGA reform and sustainability.
Elliot and Mitchell are currently endorsed by Ren Gutensohn (‘22), Hillel president; Zoe Pearson (‘22), LGBTQ+ advocacy senator; Fariha Syed (‘23), Muslim Student Union president; Katelynn McAraw (‘23), international affairs senator; Nourhan Mesbah (‘21), diversity and inclusion chair and president of Rollins Democrats; Wisly Zephir (‘21), student life chairman; Sydney Brown (‘21), 2019-20 SGA vice president; Matthew Peadreañez (‘20), 2019-20 SGA president; and the Rollins Republican Club.
“Without the students, anything you do is in vain, and without administration, nothing you want to do for students can be done,” said Elliott.
To learn more about the candidates, watch Elliott’s and Mitchell’s campaign video here, and Bennett, Sudlow, and Kohn’s video here. All full-time enrolled CLA and Holt students, including seniors, may vote in the election. Voting closes at 12 p.m. on Mar. 19. Vote using this link.