At the Student Senate executive board debate it was announced that juniors Sofia Tagkaloglou and Joel Vargeese will be running for president for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Tagkaloglou has been on Student Senate for all three years of her time at Knox. Last year, she served as the Sustainability Chair. Vargeese was in Senate last year and is currently the secretary. The debate was held on Wednesday, April 19, in the Gizmo.
At the debate, both candidates articulated similar goals. They want to make Senate more accessible to the student body at large and improve Senate’s communication and transparency on campus. We believe this is an important goal and based on the low turnout at the debate and at weekly general assembly meetings, it is clear that the student body is not as invested in Senate as it should be.
As the main liaison between Senate, the student body and the college’s administration, it is vital that Senate’s president work effectively to make the campus understand the importance of Student Senate’s role on campus and communicate how students can get involved with it.
We believe Tagkaloglou has already proven her ability to make real change happen on campus and can encourage students to take Student Senate seriously.
In her three years at Knox, Tagkaloglou has been a leader on campus. She is involved in issues she is passionate about, outspoken and able to get things done. Two examples of changes she’s played a role in are pushing the college to create the recently established Knox Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing through her work with students, faculty and staff members on the Knox Endowment Initiative and her work on bringing solar panels to campus, which will be installed this summer.
We know these changes were not achieved by Tagkaloglou alone, but we believe she understands the steps necessary for students to make an impact on this campus. She has shown this through persistence and the ways she’s benefitted the college through the projects she has been involved in.
At the debate, Tagkaloglou spoke about a three-pronged approach she has developed to improve trust and communication between the student body and Senate. She plans to establish more forms of communication with Senate by installing a new suggestion box, conducting surveys and holding office hours for students to meet with the president and ask questions or raise issues. Secondly, she wants to establish more support systems for clubs, and lastly, she wants to develop a way for campus activists to express their opinions to the Senate body.
We were impressed by the specific details of her planning and believe that her goal to make Senate more of a “grassroots” organization versus a “top-down” operation would help to inspire more members of the community to bring their ideas and concerns to senators.
Vargeese labeled himself as a “people person,” which we believe is important for Senate’s president. He identified many of the concerns that Tagkaloglou did, but we felt he did not have the same detail in his responses or the organizing skills that Tagkaloglou brings to the table. He would be a good president, caring and interested in fostering a more open relationship between Senate and this campus, but Tagkaloglou also possesses these traits.
Vargeese has been very active on campus through his work as a resident assistant, on the executive board of Alpha Phi Omega, Mortar Board and Tau Kappa Epsilon. We think he brings valuable traits and experience to Senate and hope to see him on the ballot for chair positions next week.
In addition to her leadership and involvement on campus, Tagkaloglou has worked to bridge divides between the college and Galesburg communities. She is involved in several community organizations and has built relationships with people in the city — not just the college. For example, Tagkaloglou recently joined the local NAACP chapter. Though Senate is more focused on Knox issues, Tagkaloglou’s involvement in Galesburg shows her commitment to community service and leadership.
She is not someone that just says she is going to do something. She makes it happen.
We believe Tagkaloglou has more than earned the position of Senate president. We are happy to endorse her for the position.