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Letter to the Editor: Welcome from the SGA President and Vice President

Photo taken by Amber Lin

Our fellow Tars, 

It is with great honor and privilege that we, Akheem Mitchell and Sendy Sejourne, are able to serve as your Student Government Association (SGA) President and Vice-President for the 2022-2023 school year.  

We first wanted to say how excited we are for our new and returning Tars to attend our institution this upcoming academic year. As the semester kicks off, it is our hope that we are able to achieve a year of impactful engagement, growth, and success with the student body—leaving a lasting legacy for future cohorts.

Throughout these past years, we have witnessed a multitude of events that challenged our perspectives on the world that we live in. Not only were we battling a global pandemic with the outbreak of COVID-19, but we were also fighting a racial epidemic. Both of these diseases are still illnesses that continuously impede on society. As the leadership of SGA, it is our duty to advocate for the students and their interests on campus. When determining the goals in which we want to direct the attention of SGA towards, we believed that it was imperative to focus on not only the needs of our surrounding world, but how those needs affect the Rollins student body. The top three main priorities of SGA are: community rebuilding, DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging), and mental health awareness and advocacy.

Community rebuilding stems from the lack of student involvement and the separation of students across campus. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw that there was little to no interaction with others because of the fear of becoming ill. As a result, once the campus began to open itself up and create guidelines directed towards this virus that was less severe, people were still operating as they were for most of the pandemic. This mode of operation can be viewed through the characteristics of others being more reserved and introverted. For this upcoming academic year, it is the overall objective for SGA to be more present on this campus and to encourage and create more interactions with student organizations throughout this institution. In partnering with these organizations, we intend to better promote different ways new and current students can be involved, with the hope of them finding their anchor on this campus. 

A part of our mission as the student governing body on campus is to create a welcoming environment that encourages students to voice their opinions and for those voices to be heard. While over the years SGA has gotten better at advocating for the needs of the students, as a Predominately White Institution (PWI), it becomes challenging at times to hear the voices of those who come from marginalized communities due to the lack of representation across this campus. 

Frustrations arise when it feels as if those who are meant to listen are not and instead steer clear from difficult dialogue. Our administration not only condemns acts of racism and individual bias on the grounds of sexism, ableism, homoprejudice, gender discrimination, and all actions of hate, but remain committed to promoting an inclusive campus environment. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging are truly the heart of this administration. Without these four pillars, the sense of community and safety will not be created.

Our administration prioritizes the well-being of each student. We want every student to feel seen, heard, and valued during their time at Rollins, but most importantly know that their mental health is of the utmost importance to us. We plan on continuing our collaboration with the Wellness Center to promote wellness initiatives and programming that highlight the nine dimensions of wellness. Reducing stigma associated with mental health on college campuses can only be done through productive dialogue, removing barriers to getting help, and amplifying existing resources for all students. 

It is with great pleasure that we get to work alongside you this school year in creating a community in which you can call your home. Together, we move closer to breaking barriers, and building a future! 

May power and prosperity rise within you, 

Akheem Mitchell & Sendy Neika Sejourne

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