The Student Government Association unanimously approved senior Alexis Fernander as the first Protesting Oppression with Educational Reform commissioner at its weekly Tuesday meeting.
The student body voted on an amendment this fall to create the position. The appointment is the formalization of an alliance between the two organizations, according to Fernander. Fernander is also one of the two POWER co-chairs.
Commissioners serve as appointed liaisons between SGA and their niche communities.
“In the past, SGA and POWER have had a lot of similar goals but we haven’t been able to communicate effectively with each other and that’s created some tension,” Fernander said. “It’s been one of my priorities stepping into my role as chair to bridge that gap.”
Executive President Jess Guida said in an email statement to the Beacon prior to the fall election that a significant number of SGA members are also members of POWER.
Fernander will be the third member of POWER serving in SGA— Elections Chair Christopher Henderson-West, and Executive Vice President, Raz Moayed are also POWER members.
The amendment for the new POWER position came from a conversation between the leadership of both organizations. Executive Treasurer Ian Mandt said the POWER commissioner position was suggested after POWER expressed interest in collaborating with SGA on an organizational level over the summer. Fernander said she applied for the position because she felt one of the co-chairs of POWER should hold the position.
Mandt said SGA and POWER worked together to create the Financial Accountability Initiative last semester, a list of detailed financial changes SGA wants the college to make. According to Mandt, the SGA Executive Board and the POWER co-chairs also met throughout the semester to establish their common goals and practices.
“I think both organizations will be stronger moving forward if we are together,” Moayed said. “This has been a long time coming and I’m really excited for POWER and SGA to be this huge team and be the embodiment of Emerson.”
POWER’s co-chair, Celia Reilly, is graduating this winter; and Fernander is graduating in the spring. Because of this, Fernander is beginning the search for a new POWER co-chair.
This appointment comes over a year after POWER organized a two-part protest last fall with the attendance of hundreds of student participants. The protests made a series of demands including new, mandatory cultural competency training and a redesigned first-year writing program.