On March 5, it was announced that Gianna Gonzalez ’20 won the March 2 election for the new William Smith Junior Trustee. On March 9, Edens Fleurizard ’20 was announced as the new Hobart Junior Trustee following a run-off election.
Student Trustees sit on the Board of Trustees and become voting members as seniors. They serve as a link for bringing student opinions into Board discussions.
Duties of a Student Trustee include attending student government meetings and the trustee weekends, which take place three times a year. The next trustee weekend will be April 19-21, which Gianna and Edens will attend, and meet the trustees for the first time.
I sat down with Gianna to discuss what the role of trustee means to her and how she plans on serving the student body. She is a double English and Media and Society major and is in the TEP program for secondary English.
She and Edens are both very outgoing and have become good friends since the election. They met with current senior Student Trustees Tyler Fuller ’18 and Brianna Moore ’18 to discuss how to hear students’ voices before trustee weekend.
One issue Gianna has discussed in depth with the current Student Trustees is impartiality. They must specify which groups of students hold which opinions. Personal opinions are not the priority. When talking with students, trustees should not sway them in any direction. According to Gianna, she must find the balance between having a personal opinion and remaining impartial.
Another important role of the Student Trustees is to represent the whole student body. Gianna loves notebooks, and taking notes is how she plans to be well informed for the trustee meetings. She wants to know who said what, what clubs they are in, and how those affiliations connect.
Gianna thinks her and Edens’s combined networks will provide a good cross section of the campus community. “I think the student athlete side is definitely underrepresented, so he [Edens] has his foot in the door for the whole athletics department,” she said, “Whereas I’m more on the opposite side of the spectrum with the people I know on campus.”
She and Edens are focused on getting to know every student. To ensure no one is left unrepresented, they want to have connections with every group on campus. Gianna described her role as “being informed, talking to as many students as you can, trying to find ways to meet new people so you’re getting new perspectives, because you don’t want to go to the board empty-handed.”
I asked Gianna about hot topics she thinks will come up in trustee meetings. The state of the blue light system is receiving criticism. Meal plans are changing drastically with changing Sodexo management. Kim Vincent’s Pass the Plate initiative has drawn attention to food insecurity on campus. The coordinate system is always a topic of debate.
Gianna was inspired to run because of the first-years in her orientation mentor group, who were shocked that the role of student trustee existed. She wanted to remedy the lack of communication between students and the trustees. “They have the potential to do so much for the students,” she said of the trustees. “All voices matter.”
Gianna sees many places where students can connect more with the decisions being made for the school. “People see the resources… and don’t follow through. There are so many changes that people want to see that they could easily make happen that they’re not making happen. They just need that extra push.” Gianna will strive to give students resources which will give them that push. “One of our big things is having people actually use their campus resources, not just know about them.”
As Student Trustee, Gianna is most excited about talking to students. An Orientation and Kaleidoscope mentor and RA, she is a people person who loves an excuse to talk to someone new. She is especially interested in the first-year perspective in the transition from the first to second semester.
One challenge of the Student Trustee’s job is navigating clash between student consensus and board members’ opinions. Since Gianna aims to do her best by the students, she is nervous that certain things will be out of her control. If the board disagrees, Gianna is not one to shy away from confrontation. “I’m good at apologizing,” she said with a laugh.
Through it all, Gianna will maintain transparency to the best of her ability. “That’s something that I ran on and is really important to me,” she said. Even though some content discussed will be confidential, she intends to come out with an update after every meeting.
Gianna wants students to know that she can be counted on. She is very excited to represent the student body. “If you see me, talk to me,” she urged. “If you’re passionate about something, I’m going to be excited, so come talk to me.”
The Herald also reached out to Hobart Student Trustee-elect Edens Fleurizard ’20, however he was unable to schedule an interview before the print deadline.