Student Government Association presidential candidate Chris Dickerson and vice presidential candidate Macy Thompson are running on leading tough conversations on inclusion, diversity and managing the student fee before voting begins on Wednesday.
“We genuinely love Belmont so that’s why we’re willing to take on the tough fights for students. This isn’t politics. This isn’t a game for us. We genuinely care about this community,” Dickerson said.
As SGA treasurer, Dickerson successfully met SGA’s goal to give money to 60 unique student organizations and spend $38,000 of the $50,000 of the budget through grant petitions.
Thompson, congresswoman and a member of policy review, worked alongside Dr. Cynthia Curtis, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Music, to craft the space reallocation proposal of more practice rooms for music students.
“What we specifically needed was to not see teacher teaching in closets, teaching in libraries for a choir,” she said. “That was a big personal issue for me, because I’m in the music school.”
With their past experience in tackling major issues in SGA, Thompson and Dickerson are surfacing new student concerns, including making Belmont a more inclusive campus.
Belmont’s current housing process identifies residents by sex and not gender, and Dickerson plans to represent Bridge Builders and the LGBT+ community with hopes to change the current system after conversations with Residence Life if elected, he said.
Dickerson said he also hopes to bring discussions about diversity to the forefront like South Asian Middle Eastern Association’s current issue with the definition of culture in the new convocation descriptions.
“Having SGA willing to hear those and willing to go with those smaller groups for at least a conversation, I think us willing to back those organizations is the start to more inclusionary conversations,” he said.
Giving more attention to defending the rights of smaller groups on campus is a priority for the Dickerson-Thompson ticket, but the two are also determined to help the campus as a whole with reforming the student fee spending.
Less than 1 percent of 1 percent of the student fee dedicated to student activities actually is allocated to student organizations and quality programming. The remaining $6 million to $7 million goes to athletics, Dickerson said.
To pass these reforms, Dickerson and Thompson plan to maintain relationships with administration and senior leadership.
“There’s a fine line between fighting for the students and still having respect for the administration that we cannot cross,” said Thompson.
Embodying the passion of SGA to spark conversations at both the administrative level but also the student level has been an issue with what Thompson referred to as a “timid” congress this year. She said she hopes to encourage a confidence in congress that produces more conversation and legislation on behalf of the student body.
“As a current congressmember, I love to see everybody speak up, everyone say exactly what they’re feeling,” Thompson said. “Yeah feelings can get hurt, but at the end of the day we’re searching for one goal. People should just be passionate and go for it. They don’t see what a big change that they can do. With some guidance, we can put that in perspective for new congress members.”
Speaking about their opponents, Jade Cooper and McLean Pillon, Thompson said she recognized Pillon’s efforts to make everyone comfortable in policy review and Dickerson said Cooper has done well implementing administration’s goals with Take Back the Night and the It’s On Us campaign.
“If elected, I would still trust that they would do a great job,” said Thompson.
But, both mentioned Pillon’s and Cooper’s lack of passion on specific student issues.
“I don’t know if there’s a passion in one of them to continue that great strides we’ve done this year,” said Dickerson.
Dickerson and Thompson said with their widespread involvement across campus like Greek life, H.O.P.E. Council, Bridge Builders and more, they want to represent all students, both grad and undergrad, to have a fuller and more focus view of their plans for their presidency.
“I don’t know that they’ve publicized their specifics yet,” Dickerson said concerning the Cooper-Pillon platform. “We have been very intentional about what we stand for, what we put out for this campus, why we’re running. Macy and I have been listening to student voices all year long, not just this week.”
Dickerson said he affectionately calls Belmont, “the happiest place on Earth and better than Disneyworld,” and Thompson added she does not take Belmont’s success for granted.
“There’s still work to be done,” Dickerson said. “That’s why electing Macy and I will make this great place an even better place. We’re building on to something great to make it even better.”
Voting opened at 8 a.m. on Wednesday and closes on Friday. Students can vote using Bruinlink.