Student government aims to increase presence post-election

The student government office in Farinon. (Photo by Ben Fuller ’21)

Bilal Akbar ’18, the student government president-elect for the next calendar year, and vice president-elect Shreya Nebhwani ’19 want to give their organization more visibility on campus.

“A very small proportion of the student body has an idea of what student government does,” Akbar said.

Akbar plans on having monthly open meetings in which the student body can voice their concerns and opinions on certain topics of discussion around campus.

“The first [topic] I want to do is sexual assault,” Akbar said.

Both Akbar and Nebhwani also want to address the vocalization of student government itself on multiple social issues on campus.

“We need to be more understanding and open as an organization to these groups and to the best of our ability play a role in responding to their concerns,” Nebhwani said.

The issue of relevance on campus and vocalization is one that both Akbar and Nebhwani want to continue from Lafayette College Student Government President L’Eunice Faust’s ’17 time in office.

“I’d like to continue L’Eunice’s legacy of making student government more vocal about on campus issues and improving on our visibility as an organization,” Nebhwani said.

Nebhwani said she and Akbar hope to have student government co-sponsor events on campus to help identify its presence on campus.

Akbar said he hopes to do “regular surveys about important decisions made by student government” because “it’s important that we take the opinion of the student body when making decisions.”

Bilal Akbar '18 (Courtesy of Bilal Akbar '18)
Bilal Akbar ’18, student government president-elect (Courtesy of Bilal Akbar ’18)

Serving on student government for the past two years, Akbar said he hopes this has helped to prepare for his role as president. After an unsuccessful vice presidential campaign last year, he said the experience helped him develop his ideas.

Akbar’s experience on the Lafayette budget committee has helped him form ideas of what he can change, he said.

Currently, sports clubs, which consist of seven out of 80 student organizations, receive 53 percent of the annual budget. Akbar said he hopes to “work with sports clubs to look for alternative sources of financial funding.”

Akbar, Nebwhani, former presidential candidate Connor Burwell ’19 and the vice president runner-up Jesse Glaser ’19, the vice president runner-up, all agree that they can combine their ideas and work together to help improve student government.

“I am excited to work with both Bilal and Shreya on ensuring that their platforms can be brought to life,” Burwell said. “I am also still committed to doing everything I can to ensure that what I campaigned on can be fought for, too.”

Along with agreement on the need of an adjusted student budget, both pairs of running mates agreed on the need for extended hours in the library.

“[It’s] something much of the student body yearns for,” Glaser said.

“A conducted survey found that 62 percent of the student body is in favor of extended [library] hours,” Akbar said.

Akbar said he is aware that a significant amount of the student body did not vote for him, so he wants to incorporate ideas from other platforms into his own. Akbar received 46.57 percent of the vote, while the runner-up, Burwell, received 40.63 percent. Forty percent of the student population voted.

“As an institution we need to have a recognizable impact on every student’s experience,” Akbar said. “I hope I live up to the expectations of the people who voted for me.”

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