Freshman class elects the first female president in four years

By AASHNA SUNDESHA | October 4, 2018

The Committee on Student Elections (CSE) announced the results of the Student Government Association (SGA) Freshman Class Council elections on Thursday, Sept. 26.

The freshman class president for this academic year is Eunice Namkoong, who ran against four other candidates. She won with 193 votes by a 3 vote lead, and will be the first female class freshman president in four years. Expressing her passion for advocacy, Namkoong stated that she will use this platform to advocate for issues and changes the student body deem necessary. 

In an email to The News-Letter, Namkoong wrote that one issue she would like to take on is encouraging students to leave the Homewood Campus and get more involved in Baltimore.

“I believe there are a lot of inequities and injustices to be addressed in the city that Hopkins students can truly have an impact on,” she wrote. 

The freshman class senators are Nathan Mudrak, Mehak Ali, Kylie Sharron, Alexander Forlenza and Pritika Parmar. 

The position for the sixth senator initially was tied between Eric Armstrong and Grace Wang, with each candidate receiving 193 votes. The title was ultimately granted to Armstrong following a SGA vote on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

This was the first time this situation had arisen during freshmen elections. Executive Vice President AJ Tsang explained that due to a recent change in their bylaws this spring, the CSE did not use runoff elections to break the tie. He stated that the decision to vote between the two candidates fell to SGA, based on supermajority, which is two-thirds majority of the senate. 

“We in SGA are trying to balance between three needs really,” he said.

Tsang elaborated on exactly what those needs are.

“One, that’s it’s a democratic process. Two, that it’s resolved efficiently and fairly, and three, that we also protect the privacy and well-being of two candidates.”

Parmar, Mudrak and Forlenza were part of the same ticket. They called their campaign, “The Three C’s” — Communication, Connection, Clarity. Parmar said that during her time in SGA she wants to make sure she reaches the entire freshman class and addresses the concerns they might have.

“We actually had this idea that we were going to create a Google form where people can anonymously say what they want fixed because, obviously, as one student we see some of the problems but not everything,” she said.

Along the same idea, Mudrak expressed his hope for SGA to be a liaison between the student body and the administration.

“I encourage everyone to come to one of our meetings, especially if you have a concern you’d like to express,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter

Parmar also spoke about the need for clarity surrounding some of the policies on campus. 

She believes that even though certain topics like sexual assault and alcohol were addressed during Orientation, there remains a certain amount of ambiguity in regards to the policies like the alcohol policy for Medical Amnesty and the sexual assault reporting policies.

“There’s some statistic out there that says that only three percent of the sexual assaults on campus are actually reported at Hopkins, which is crazy low,” said Parmar, 

She elaborated on what she will do to try and address this issue.

“So [we’re] trying to increase awareness about that. Just bringing clarity around important issues such as those and many others.”

In addition, Ali spoke about the importance of giving people a voice. She said this was important both in majority and in minority groups. As senator she hopes to give other people a platform to voice their opinions with here platform goals of accessibility and also mentioned her aim for greater accountability by SGA.

“The SGA needs to be made more accountable for stuff it does,” she said. “I just feel like it can be more involved. It needs to put itself out there more.”

Armstrong, who was voted into the senate at SGA’s weekly meeting, said that when he was petitioning for his campaign, he noticed that every student he talked to had ideas for improving the University.

“Students here are not apathetic in the least. Every student here believes that their opinion matters, and I find that invigorating and it’s another reason why I love Hopkins,” he said.

The freshman class elections drew a decrease in voter turnout, with 57 percent of the Class of 2022 voting compared to 59 percent of the Class of 2021. 

Freshman Puru Sadh, explained that he did not vote because of a lack of knowledge about the amount of involvement SGA has at Hopkins. 

“[A Student Government] should voice the opinions of students, but it can very easily become a popularity contest,” said Sadh.

This year, five candidates ran for president and 18 ran for senate. The top three candidates for president received 193, 190 and 184 votes, respectively.

Tsang said that although the total number of presidential candidates remained similar to the number last year, he definitely saw increase in competition for the presidential position this year.

He mentioned that there have been a number of changes from last year that may have led to the increase in student engagement and the number of students running for office at Hopkins.

One difference, he pointed out, was the fact that in the past, SGA’s main outreach to freshmen has been the student involvement fair and word-of-mouth while this year they the advertised during Orientation.

“At Orientation, SGA held two info sessions. We got about at least 30 to 40 students at each session alone,” he said. “We were also able to advertise to the freshmen during the activism fair.” 

Tsang concluded by saying that he appreciated the excitement and energy that the freshman class SGA comes with which makes them see things in a perspective different from that of upperclassmen.

“I just want to congratulate all the freshman who ran for office, on bringing so much energy and passion and enthusiasm to the SGA election process, to our school and the student body,” he said.

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