New Student Government Leaders Take Over Champlain College

SGA announces President and Vice-President for the 2020-2021 school year.


SGA President and Vice President

On February 21, the Student Government Association sent out the ballot to elect the upcoming school year’s president and vice president. There were two candidates for each office that students could vote for.

The SGA sent out another email on March 2, telling students there would be a revote for president due to a tie.

On March 6, the SGA announced the winners: John James Anderson as president and Satinder Pabla as vice president.

John James Anderson
Photo Provided

John James Anderson is currently a third-year computer information technology student. He is also a Resident Advisor and works at Champsupport. 

The tie for the SGA presidency surprised Anderson, but he said, “I don’t ever want to compare myself, but I think many of the students here have come to know me in some sense and have faith that I will be best able to represent them in the Student Government [Association].”

He even has previous experience with student government, as he was a class representative in his high school’s student council. In that time, he learned a lot about accepting differing opinions and keeping disagreements calm.

“I genuinely enjoy helping people in any way I can,” Anderson explained. “Throughout the past few years of attending Champlain, I’ve helped a lot of people through the various other roles I hold on this campus and with talking to people throughout each week. In doing so, I’ve learned a lot about this college, both good and bad. I decided to run for the position as soon as I heard the announcement about the opening for next year’s candidates, with a main goal of helping people feel more connected to the college overall and to help connect more departments across campus.”

Satinder Pabla
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Satinder Pabla is a third-year psychology major with a criminal justice minor. She is new to student government but feels she will be able to make change.

As someone who has never been part of the SGA, I think I’ll be able to provide a different perspective and a new face,” Pabla explained. “Having this new perspective can help foster unique ideas and promote more discussions on our college campus and encourage other diverse points of view.”

With Pabla, Anderson feels he will be a leader who is easily approachable for people needing help or guidance. He also thinks that student government is crucial to the function of Champlain College.

“I personally think that student government is the key bridge between the students and the college administration,” he stated. “People in many of the important positions at Champlain [College] often are quite busy with dealing with daily matters so they don’t have time to meet personally with students or comb through their emails and provide detailed responses to people’s questions. Given this, the SGA’s role is to be that voice of the students to bring matters important to the students up to the administration throughout the year. Since the SGA is composed of students, they also can more easily connect with the students and have more candid conversations.”

Pabla agrees, mentioning that she also wants to build a better connection between students and the Champlain College administration.

The Student Government Association deals with many issues on campus, whether it involves budgets for clubs or making students feel more included. Anderson touched on this while explaining what he would improve.

“One important issue I know has been mentioned is trying to make the Hearthstone office more welcoming to students to use as a space to hang out or get work done during the week, as long as there aren’t any meetings happening,” Anderson suggested. “I definitely want to work on this to help destigmatize the office and remove the barrier some people might feel about not going in at all, since it might feel too official.”

Pabla agrees with Anderson, saying, “I have talked to students and they have expressed how they didn’t even know that it was a space for them as well, and some students were even hesitant to go into Hearthstone to print out papers.”

Pabla and Anderson have similar opinions and ideas for SGA in the upcoming year. Overall, they both want to make everyone at the college more communicative.

Besides his goal of connecting different departments and having more communication between faculty, staff, and students, Anderson also has other ideas.

He added, “Through speaking with several of my friends, I also want to work with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team on improving the process [across campus] for students changing their name. This effort would also extend to Sodexo with increasing their training to ask for students’ names before finalizing their orders, rather than just using the name printed on ID cards.”

Cases of misnaming students have caused instances of discomfort on campus, and this is only one way Anderson wants to combat this discomfort.

In the past year, SGA has solved several problems. One of these problems was when the Republican Club hosted a controversial “Change My Mind” event, in which a poster posed the question: “there are only two genders, change my mind.” Anderson explained how he would deal with similar problems in the community.

“I believe in listening first to get everyone’s perspectives before tackling major issues of contention. These issues are always tough to handle, especially in heightened situations, and there’s no perfect solution to any problem,” Anderson offered. “It’s important to address any immediate issues which can arise if people feel threatened or personally targeted in these types of scenarios, then continue with resolving the issue and help everyone to move past the disagreement.”

“In a situation like those which arose this past year, I would want to listen to both the club organizers and the opinions of anyone against those opinions,” he said. “All situations where something similar might happen are unique and each require different solutions, but I also think reminding club heads about community standards and respecting people’s viewpoints at the beginning of each semester is paramount for avoiding any future conflicts.”

Pabla has a similar stance.

Handling these types of issues is going to be a team effort,” she said. “I want to make sure that students are feeling respected, safe, valued, and validated on this campus while maintaining their First Amendment rights. To do this, it is going to be crucial for an honest, non-malicious intent and open-minded discussion to be able to take place to be able to understand why students feel the way they do, and why specific actions were deemed as hurtful or harmful.”

During her presidency, Pabla wants to be a trustworthy, helpful person on campus.

“I want to be a resource for any student, and someone that any student can approach if they have an issue or concern or even a compliment regarding SGA or have a general conversation with,” Pabla mentioned. “I understand that this type of relationship will take time to build, and I want to make that effort.”

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, students have not been on campus; however, Anderson hopes to help students transition when they do finally get to come back.

He said, “I understand these past couple weeks have been stressful, and the upcoming few seem even more confusing and unknown. I hope everyone can see through these struggles, have faith in the country and this school slowly recovering and returning to normal, and have strength to still finish the semester as strong as it began.”