Imani West and Karalyn Schimek have been very busy this year, and just about every year of college up to now. They are very involved in the campus community, holding high positions in their sororities multiple on-campus jobs, serving on the executive board of the Student Government Association, and being members of honor societies and several other organizations. Now the female duo are the leaders of the student body and have many exciting plans for progress in the upcoming school year.
“I was definitely surprised and very nervous when we won. During the campaign I kept hearing people say ‘Oh, you’re going to be the representative of the entire student body’ and that’s a really big deal, and a huge responsibility to have,” said West. “Everyone was really excited for us, but it was like they were already relying on us before we were even elected. It was such a huge honor that the student body trusted us with leading them during the next school year and that the administration is supporting us as well. It’s not really a feeling of accomplishment, but just so very honored to be here. It is such an amazing honor.”
In fall 2014, West will be a senior and the president of the Student Government Association (SGA). She is a member of the Sigma Omicron Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and holds the position of parliamentarian and membership chairman. She works at the Batten Hub and is a Phonathon Ambassador, while somehow still finding time to be secretary for SGA and a Peace Corps Ambassador. West is also a member of a liberal arts honor society, PORTfolio.
“We kind of chose each other, actually,” said West, “Kara was my choice for a running mate because of her work ethic; she is such a strong member of SGA as treasurer, has a very positive attitude and spirit that I thought I could work well with. It’s important for the president and vice president relationship to be solid, since we are the face of this organization and the students.”
Schimek will be a junior and is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha. During her freshman year, she was the social and standards chairman for ASA, but she then decided to take a break to focus on her executive position in SGA as a sophomore. As vice president, it will be her third year as an elected official of SGA. She was a freshman senator and then was recruited by former president Steven Bond to be treasurer this past school year. Schimek also is a part of Village Council.
The new faces of student government at Virginia Wesleyan have many plans to evolve and improve how the organization functions. Schimek heavily emphasized the importance of communication.
“Sometimes it is really hard to get solid communication between organizations, departments, and other sectors of the college, and I think improving that would be very beneficial to everyone,” said Schimek. “ It could really strengthen the relationships between all parts of the school, and currently I believe those relationships are lacking. I also think that involvement should be pushed more heavily unto students. We’ve had plenty of fundraisers and events for SGA that didn’t go as well as everyone expected, and higher involvement would have made a major difference in their success.”
The Student Government Association is an organization that contains officials elected by by student vote to represent the student body. SGA meets weekly to discuss issues brought up by students, and all students at the college are welcome to attend meetings to speak their piece. Each class has four senators that are in charge of making moves to fix problems, whether that is through meeting with administrators or department heads, or helping with fundraisers meant for purchasing more resources for students. West is very passionate about SGA and what it represents.
“The beautiful thing about SGA is that it brings so many different people together,” West said. “SGA really strives to represent every aspect of the student body at Virginia Wesleyan, from athletes to Greeks, the Outlet and the Marlin Chronicle, WAC and RecX. I think when other students can see that diversity, it really allows SGA to bring something different to the table. The more diverse group of students we have involved, the more administration will be able to have an accurate understanding of our issues.”
When selecting the new executive board, West and Schimek looked for candidates that have a real connection with the college, are able to time-manage well, and are committed and passionate. Their opponents in the presidential election, Devin Bransfield and Hanna Louk, will be members of the executive board, along will some who have never worked in student government but are involved at the college.
“At the end of the day we didn’t want students that didn’t have a strong connection with the school and weren’t involved,” said West. “They needed to have an understanding of the school environment, but also were dedicated members of whatever organizations they were a part of so that we knew they would be able to time-manage. The people we chose are really passionate about what they do, it had to be visible, the faces of their organizations. These students are always working and vouching for them with a strong positive attitude.”
“SGA is very time-consuming,” said Schimek. “From the outside looking in, you might not think that because it doesn’t show as much, but, boy, do we do a lot. We need a board who help us get a lot of things done.”
Overall, West and Schimek want to bring a new level of positive action to the campus, deviating from students’ tendency to complain without trying to make actual changes.
“If the administration sees the student body handling issues hands-on, they will be more able to do their job,” said West. “It’s really easy to just be negative and complain about all the things you don’t like about the school, but it actually makes it harder for administration to do their job because the problems aren’t being seen on a larger scale. We really want to help cut down on that practice of negativity about the college and encourage people to get involved and actually make a difference with positive action.”