Katherine Braden | Assistant Features Editor
This week, with student government elections just behind us, Features invited newly elected student body president, junior Grace Pyo, and her vice president, sophomore Wyatt Harms, to answer a few questions about their campaign, their win and where they see Wheaton headed in the next year.
What percentage of the student body vote did you receive?
We won 60 percent of the vote with three tickets running.
What were your feelings when informed of your win?
It was a mixture of joy and relief. We were not expecting to win the election without a run-off, and being able to end the campaign early gave us the much-needed time to rest.
What previous experience do you both have in student government or that could help you in student government?
Wyatt: I have two years of SG experience. Last year I served as the freshman class president and this year as the EVP of College Life. Since the VP runs the SG board, this experience will help Grace and (me) adjust more quickly to our positions. Also, I can give helpful insights to the EVPs and class officers, since I have served as both.
Grace: Serving this year as an RA in Fischer has helped me to better understand the range of opinions and experiences of students at Wheaton. I also studied abroad for a semester in China and served on the Global Engagement Committee, which will give me insight into Student Government’s efforts to expand international learning opportunities.
What do you hope to achieve next year as the student body president and vice president?
Our goals next year are to improve Student Government’s communication with the student body, increase opportunities for cross-cultural and off-campus engagement and support student innovation.
What does the student body president do and what are they responsible for? The vice president?
The student body president has two key roles. First, the president represents the student body to the administration, faculty and alumni, communicating the student opinion on issues relating to the college. The student body president also sets the agenda for the Student Government Board.
The vice president’s role is to run the Student Government Board meetings and to work with the six EVPs, the Class Officers and the Administrative Cabinet. The VP also sits on faculty boards and shapes the vision for SG with the president.
What do you think should be Wheaton student government’s top priority next year?
Because so much of Student Government’s effectiveness hinges on its ability to understand what matters to the student body and communicate that to the administration, our top priority for next year is communication. We met with many campus groups during the campaign to hear ideas about how to improve communication and collaboration between SG and other organizations. We’re really excited about coming up with creative ways to inform the student body about what SG is doing and make sure that students know how to bring ideas or concerns to us.
What is your dream for Wheaton and how will you move us toward that dream?
Our dream is that students would be empowered and equipped to be who God made them to be during their time at Wheaton. Wheaton already has many strengths as a college, but there are also areas that could improve. A few examples are access to cross-cultural learning opportunities, environmental sustainability and greater care for and awareness of minority students. We want to work together with the Student Government Board and the students at Wheaton to create or change the policies and programming that will address those areas of need.
You spoke a lot about supporting student groups. How do you plan to do this? What is most lacking right now and how would you address it?
We want student groups to know that SG is there for them to use as a resource to approach the administration. We think one idea that could be helpful is to have members of the SG board be responsible for each student group and attend their meetings once a quad or once a semester. We think one issue with student groups is the lack of communication across the different offices of the OMD, OCO and SAO. We would love to see greater collaboration between student groups and between offices.
Your motto was “Building on the Past, Moving Toward the Future.” Why did you choose this motto and how do you plan to achieve it?
Student Government has done some pretty exciting things, and we wanted to increase knowledge of SG during the campaign by sharing (those things). SG has always highlighted the areas of need of campus and pushed Wheaton to continually improve, and that is what we are hoping to do next year.
Is there anything else you would like to inform the student body about?
We would like to stress that, although we will be leading the SG board, we want to work on the issues that the SG board and the student body care about. SG isn’t about the student body president or vice president — it is about serving the students and representing them to the administration. Even as we near the end of this semester, please feel free to contact us about ideas for next year.