Section: News

Gallagher, Asuquo square off in Student Council race

On April 11, the Office of Student Engagement emailed all students the ballot for this year’s Student Council elections. Voting will close on Sunday, April 17 at 11:59 p.m.

This year, of the 11 elections students can vote in, six have more than one candidate running, including vice president for business and finance, senior and sophomore class presidents and chairpersons for Buildings, Grounds and Sustainability and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committees. Most notably, Delaney Gallagher ’23 and Ubongabasi Asuquo ’23 are running for Student Council president, both of whom have been active in promoting their campaigns to the broader student body.  

The primary role of Student Council president is to oversee Council meetings, enforce Council bylaws and act as a liaison between student government and senior staff, such as President Sean Decatur and Vice President for Student Affairs Celestino Limas. Asuquo is currently serving as Vice President for Student Affairs, and Gallagher is serving as student co-chair of Campus Senate. What differentiates the two candidates most are the issues they prioritize.  

Gallagher’s campaign strategy has largely been to emphasize her experiences and accomplishments as Campus Senate co-chair and as Student Council’s vice president of academic affairs. “In my work in student government I have handled with care a variety of different issues on campus, and am the only candidate with 3 years of effective policy change experience,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. In her social media posts, Gallagher particularly highlights her work on the $250 book grant given to work-study students, extending the Pass/D/Fail deadline from six weeks to eight, authorship of the Accessibility Mission Statement and creating more jobs on campus for students.  

Gallagher’s social media posts also outline her intended priorities as president, including directing greater resources to affinity groups, enhancing communication between students and AVI staff, revitalizing the Social Board, promoting other food options on campus to shorten lines in the servery and improving parking on campus. In her email to the Collegian, Gallagher elaborated on her campus parking plans. “I would like to change the policy to allow students to use certain visitor lot spaces such as the Peirce [lot] as soon as the new parking garage is completed,” she wrote.   

Meanwhile, Asuquo has run a campaign to reform support systems for underrepresented students. “Too often institutional support for low-income, international, and students of color at Kenyon is reactive, inconsistent, and sparsely available,” she explained in her campaign statement. Asuquo feels an increase in funding to the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) is essential to support the current and growing group of minority students. She continued with a personal story about how when her mother was dying, she asked ODEI to pay for a plane ticket home but, because they were underfunded, they could only fund about a third of the cost. “When the time comes for you to feel supported, that support is not there,” she told the Collegian.

A big problem Asuquo identified is understaffing in many administrative offices. “I think we just have to commit as much to admitting more students as we do supporting those students,” she said. Asuquo’s other priorities are increasing minority representation in STEM departments, expanding a laundry grant established to support low-income students, admitting more low-income and minority students into the College and creating a better system of transportation to benefit all students. “I believe it is unethical to offer us a place at Kenyon and then not fully support us while we are here,” she said. She also expressed that if Student Council positions were paid jobs, low-income students could  earn money while representing themselves, instead of being unable to serve due to work-related time commitments. This would allow the Council to better address issues directly affecting low-income students.

In Asuquo’s social media posts, she underlined her experience in Student Council, the Affinity Group Collective and affinity group executive board positions, as well as her previous efforts on the first-ever virtual involvement fair, the Love Project and additional meal stipends and COVID-19 testing for students on campus during breaks.

The elections for vice presidents of Academic Affairs and Student Life, the committee chairs of Housing and Dining, Campus Safety and Wellness and the junior class president are all uncontested. 

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