The junior senators for the 2023-24 school year are inaugurated into Student Government Association and have begun their terms.
While each grade level has 10 senator spots available, only eight senators for the junior class were elected in the spring. One senator, Deya Rassul, stepped down from her position due to a heavy course load. As a result, three junior senator spots were available for SGA hopefuls this fall.
Two of those slots were filled this fall by Suad Mohamed and Claire Portele, bringing the junior senator count to nine.
The junior class senators are: Kimberly Amaya, McKenzie Larrimore, Suad Mohamed, Olivia Patterson, Alyssa Penrod, Claire Portele, Maya Ramasamy, Youstina Saber and Emily Tadros.
Suad Mohamed declined to comment.
Alyssa Penrod did not respond after multiple attempts to reach her for a comment.
Improving Belmont’s parking situation is one issue that second-year senator Amaya hopes to improve this year.
“I’m a commuter myself, so I’m struggling with parking,” Amaya said. “And if I’m struggling, I can’t imagine how it is for the visitors, the people coming to Belmont, the people who live on campus and have their own cars. So, I feel like that’s an issue that we’re going to try and work on.”
Amaya also hopes to cultivate a good space for the student body to communicate with Belmont, specifically through SGA’s “Crumbl and Concerns” event during convocation hour on Wednesdays.
“We’re really just trying to listen to the student body and see what changes we can try bringing in the next year or two,” said Amaya.
Third-year senator Larrimore has made it her goal to advocate for the disability community at Belmont, specifically when it comes to creating and maintaining ADA-accessible spaces as the university builds a new residence hall.
“I think they came from administration, and they were asking, ‘what should we consider - like should we put in a game room, should we put in a café?’ And I was like, ‘maybe we should consider making it disability friendly?’ Because that would be real nice,” said Larrimore.
As a member of the disability community, Larrimore finds it paramount to speak up for those who are sometimes overlooked. She said that many times, the issues that students with disabilities face are forgotten about due to the invisible nature of some disabilities.
“You can kind of look around and see that the school hasn’t always had much of a thought for them, and if they did, it was more of an afterthought. That was something I wanted to change.”
As a first-year senator, Patterson is gearing up to cultivate the relationships between SGA and student organizations.
“I’m excited to represent all of the people that I know through different avenues on campus with organizations, so I really want SGA to be very accessible,” said Patterson.
She is a member of multiple organizations, including Greek Life, Creative Writing Club, and Pre-Law Society. Patterson hopes to work further with clubs through her role on SGA’s Financial Committee.
“I knew that I wanted to work with the student orgs and allocating funds and approving bills and writing bills to help student organizations get SGA funding,” Patterson said. “Ending up on the Finance Committee was kind of a blessing, and being there is making me really excited.”
After studying abroad last semester, Portele ran for a senator position and was elected for the first time this fall. She is already eager to give back to the community.
“I just wanted to make sure that I was finding a way to get involved in things that one: interested me; and two: were also beneficial to other people as well,” said Portele. “I feel like Senate was a perfect way to go and do that.”
Portele is hoping to make sure everyone has a voice on campus, but she recognizes that not everything is realistic.
“I want to make as much of a difference as possible. There are obviously certain things that are and are not feasible with what we’re doing,” said Portele. “But I think the end goal is to make sure that people feel heard and seen and represented throughout campus.”
Joining SGA seemed like a natural step for first-year senator Ramasamy, who ran for SGA for the first time this spring.
“I feel like I’ve been picking up leadership roles around campus since I was a freshman,” said Ramasamy. “This is one that I was always interested in but just wasn’t sure if I had the time for it.”
As vice president of both “Strong Women in the Making” and “The Women’s Network,” Ramasamy is no stranger to how SGA and student organizations work together.
“I’ve been very familiar with the work that SGA does throughout campus just because many of the other organizations I’ve been a part of has had to partner with them or get funds through them. So it’ll be very interesting and also exciting to see from the other side.”
Commitment and engagement are something that Saber wants to focus on this year. As a first-year senator, she hopes to become even more involved with the Belmont community.
“In the past, I was really busy, and I felt like I wasn’t going to dedicate a lot of time to it. But this semester, I’ve been trying to step out of my comfort zone a little bit more and being involved,” said Saber.
Saber is excited about reaching out to clubs on campus and helping them obtain funding.
“I’m on the Finance Committee and it’s kind of just seeing firsthand how much impact SGA has on other organizations and everyone working together to make the best out of this entire semester for everyone,” said Saber. “So I’m really enjoying it.”
As a member of the Finance Committee, Tadros makes it her goal to help support different organizations on campus.
“It’s nice to see what the clubs coming in are and the ideas that they have and what they are bringing this semester. You want to support them, because I would want it back as well with the clubs that I’m in,” said Tadros.
In addition to giving back to clubs on campus, Tadros also wants to give back to the Belmont community.
“I liked that we opened the money up to everybody and were like ‘Okay, we have a sum of money left, what can we do for the whole school?’” she said. “It never stops because you provide for the clubs and then provide for the entire school. Everybody benefits.”
This article was written by Anna Blubaugh