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Contributed by Cedrick-Michael Simmons on 04/21/2013
I speak on behalf of IC Students FIRST when I say that we are honored and privileged to have the opportunity to represent and serve you, the student body, over the course of the next academic year.
We know that many of you may not know what Student Government Association (SGA) actually does or who your representatives are. We understand that some of you feel that there is no need to care about what SGA plans to do in the near future and thus chose to opt out of the voting and survey inquiries. We at IC Students FIRST know this, and yet we see this as an opportunity to re-evaluate SGA’s outreach and priorities to determine the best ways to connect and support you, especially the various goals and initiatives you are engaged in during your educational experience at IC. Why? Because we cannot represent student interests if we have no clue what your thoughts, concerns, and critiques are. In some respects, the dialogue between you and SGA has to be the number one priority if we are to serve to the best of our ability. Therefore, we felt that honoring this obligation and commitment could start with our name, IC Students FIRST, to symbolically make it clear that we are ready to take the necessary steps to engage in this crucial dialogue with you. We wanted to make it clear that our number one goal is to continue the movement in the direction towards in-person meetings and SGA’s visibility and support at your organizational events and meetings. As a result, we can better inform ourselves and learn from your insight, analysis, awareness, and concerns.
If I am being completely honest, I wouldn’t still be at Ithaca College if there weren’t opportunities to communicate and connect with the students, staff, faculty, and administrators who help shape our IC experience. Like many of you, I was one of the people who would have to take classes about the political economy or the right breathing techniques related to speaking and performing, while worrying about whether or not my parents were financially secure in my absence from home and the presence of my increasing student debt. Like many of you, I struggled with housing insecurity over breaks that were a huge distraction during finals and midterm weeks, which was a result from a variety of issues ranging from the consequences of the recession on employment to the hostile environments as a result of pain from the past. Like some of you, I have been uncomfortable in classes or in offices when I felt that aspects of my identity were shaping the limited and assumed perception of fellow members of the IC community at work, in discussions, in office hours, and even at interviews. We at IC Students FIRST want to connect with you because we believe it is incredibly important that you have peers and representatives who work to make sure that you know that you are not alone in your experiences at this institution. You are not alone in your situations with families or friends that aren’t perfect and thus affect your vital performance in the classroom.
We want to know those stories so we can work tirelessly to achieve some type of resolutions, because we have all been personally affected as well by similar concerns. One of the most crucial reasons why we are still here is because we were able to communicate and connect with fellow members of the IC community who have worked to provide multiple solutions to increase our security, empowerment, encouragement, and access to necessary resources. When I was struggling with a place to stay over breaks when T3 and the Garden Apartments were closed, it was fellow students who pointed me in the direction towards Residential Life, key people in the Financial Aid Services, and the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs that resulted in solutions to help me now focus on the many papers and exams during those crucial finals and midterm periods. When I was struggling with being a victim of racism while trying to unpack and learn how to address my own sexism and heterosexism, it was fellow students who were able to provide the accountability, critical reflection, and re-interpretation of the various theories and messages of awareness and inclusion from many departments ranging from Sociology Department, to the LGBT Center, to the Center of the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity (CSCRE).
We at IC Students FIRST want to be a similar resource for all students, because it is what you deserve for continuing to display resilience and determination to increase awareness and response to the many obstacles in life, while simultaneously spending sleepless nights to combine academic achievement with community service and engagement. We want to facilitate the necessary dialogue between students and fellow members of the Ithaca College community who have devoted their lives to making sure that we are as successful and proud as possible when we receive our diplomas. We want to not just represent, but serve and work with you in a critical way that extends beyond the superficial and seeks to address the root causes of any issues that you may have. It is absolutely necessary that communication and connection with you is the number one priority or else we miss out on the opportunity to make sure that your stories of trials and tribulations do not result in drop-outs, decreased scholarship opportunities, and overall unhappiness, which affect educational experience and future opportunities. We want to work WITH you and serve you because we have faith in the idea that when the Ithaca College community is aware of what needs to be done to help a fellow Bomber, the response to provide assistance can be grand and swift by everyone from the students to the administration.
The truth is that we are excited to have the opportunity to be the Executive Board for SGA because you all continue to inspire us. You inspire us when your courage in the classrooms is displayed when you stand up in the name of justice for your fellow members of the IC community. You inspire us when you work together to build smaller communities of acceptance and empowerment, and then work with other groups to spread messages of faith, love, action, and appreciating difference to work towards the goals of overall inclusion on our campus and abroad. You inspire us when you fill out petitions and speak in front of friends and even strangers constantly to protest or profess the importance of classes and programs that make it clear that our community is striving to be on right side of social justice. You inspire us when you take on leadership roles in various student organizations to bring new ideas to the forefront on how to honor the past while securing a better future. You inspire us when you display so much confidence to go out on to the fields or step on to the stage, representing the will and desire to succeed and inspire greatness in your performances. Finally, you inspire us when you provide mentorship, friendship, and support to peers, who then step up to do the same for fellow students who need that empowerment and connection as well.
We at IC Students FIRST have been a part of those movements, and we only hope to continue to support and expand these efforts as the Executive Board of SGA. On behalf of IC Students FIRST, we thank you for inspiring us and we hope that you will welcome our enthusiasm and desire to communicate and connect over the next academic year. Why? Because our goal is to work with you to make sure that every single person at this campus can look back to their IC experience with the pride and inspiration to do and be better, which you all have done for us over the last few years. Thank you and we look forward to an amazing 2013-2014 Academic Year.