The Student Government Association (SGA) elected former Sophomore Class Senator Mehak Ali as the new Executive Vice President during their weekly meeting on Tuesday.
SGA members nominated Ali to succeed Dean Chien, who became executive president following Aspen Williams’ resignation.
Williams confirmed in an email to The News-Letter that she had chosen to resign, effective immediately.
“I am now at a point where it is time for me to no longer be a member of SGA. Instead I’m focusing on activism and advocacy beyond Hopkins and figuring out how these efforts will play a role in my future career,” she wrote.
Ali ran against Senior Class Senators Chanel Lee and Kahmil Shajihan. At the meeting, Ali expressed her hopes to continue being a voice for students.
“I joined SGA as a freshman because I wanted to start... fostering a sense of community at Hopkins,” she said. “I believe that as a female woman of color from the South, I represent the diverse aspects of the Hopkins community.”
Ali elaborated on her goals in an interview with The News-Letter.
“I would personally like to create a more inclusive environment in SGA where more people feel welcome to speak their minds without a couple of people dominating conversation,” she said. “Since I was elected as a senator, I do believe that a certain part of the student body wants me to represent them. So, while [this election was] not the most democratic, I hope that I can fulfill the role.”
Chien clarified that Ali’s election adhered to the guidelines of SGA’s constitution in an interview with The News-Letter.
“All of our democratic power is derived from our constitution,” he said. “By following the constitution we are following a democratic procedure, even if we may very well have reservations about popular elections versus this more condensed version.”
Chien, who declined to comment on Williams’ resignation, also spoke about SGA’s informal meeting with University President Ronald J. Daniels, Provost Sunil Kumar and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Alanna Shanahan on Nov. 12. Instead of their weekly meeting, representatives held a closed session later that evening to debrief.
Chien stated that he appreciated the opportunity for SGA to connect with administrators.
“President Daniels remains committed to public discourse,” he said. “There’s a commitment University-wide — not just from our administrators but from SGA too — to improving mental health on this campus.”
During this week’s meeting, SGA appointed eight students to the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and Whiting School of Engineering Curriculum Committees. These students include Senior Class Senator Chase McAdams and Sophomore Class President Nathan Mudrak, who will help review and improve undergraduate programs.
In addition, SGA passed legislation to allocate $300 to the literary magazine Zeniada to fund its print publication and $150 to expand the Medical Ethics Discussion Panel’s Berman Speaker Series, which features speakers from the Berman Institute on Bioethics every semester. Their events aim to increase the discussion around controversial issues in bioethics and medicine.
On the other hand, SGA voted down the Harm Reduction Funding Act. This bill would have provided Hopkins Undergraduates for Harm Reduction $450 to send two to four undergraduates to a conference to learn how to treat opioid overdoses.
Several SGA members pointed out that there was not a precedent for legislation covering transportation costs and that SGA had not paid to send students to conferences before.
McAdams also expressed a concern about how the $450 allocated in this bill would only allow four students to attend the conference.
“For only funding four people, I think that this is a large amount of money [that] ends up not impacting our community that much,” he said.
However, Junior Class Senator Mariam Al-Jabi-Lopez believed that the impact of the bill, which she introduced, would be broader.
“The people who attend this conference would then be training other people who are part of Hopkins,” she said. “The opioid epidemic is super relevant, but it’s not really discussed among the Hopkins community... This will make the campus and the community a safer place.”
SGA members adjourned the meeting, tabling bills that would grant $1800 to the BRASA (Brazilian Students Association) Summit next October and would require newly-elected SGA members to attend a mandatory meet and greet session.
According to SGA’s bylaws, the Sophomore Class Council must send an application to the sophomore class to fill Ali’s vacant seat within seven business days.
Williams shared her optimism for SGA’s future.
“I wish the current SGA members the best moving forward and I am excited to see what they accomplish in the months to come,” she wrote.
Rudy Malcom contributed reporting to this article.
Correction: The original version of this article referred to Nathan Mudrak as Sophomore Class Senator. He is Sophomore Class President.
The News-Letter regrets this error.