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Pham, Thiel elected to lead restructured student government association

Pair defeat incumbent Nelson, partner Ellis by a 143 vote margin

Sebastian Pham ’23 and Jeremias Thiel ’23 will serve as St. Olaf’s Student Government Association (SGA) President and Vice President duo next year after defeating Andy Nelson ’23 and Gretchen Ellis ’23 in this year’s SGA elections. The pair will lead a reformed SGA during the 2022-2023 school year.

SGA also held elections for the five branch coordinator positions. Students elected coordinators of the Board of Regents Student Committee (BORSC), Diversity Initiatives Support Committee (DISC), Political Affairs Committee (PAC), Student Organizations Committee (SOC), and Volunteer Network (VN).

Fenton Krupp ’24 will serve as BORSC Coordinator, Mbuyisile Tlhwaele ’23 will serve as DISC Coordinator, Sol Potek ’25 will serve as PAC Coordinator, Nazareth Salazar Toruno ’23 will serve as SOC Coordinator, and Noah Massanari ’23 will serve as VN Coordinator. All five elections were uncontested. Krupp, Tlhwaele, and Potek were all reelected for a second term. Salazar and Massanari will be serving their first terms as SGA branch coordinators.

1,010 students out of 2,988 voted in the election — nearly 35% of the student body. This percentage represents as significant increase in turnout from previous elections — 28% in 2020 and 24% in 2021. Voting took place online from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on April 13.

Comments from each of the five elected coordinators are below.

More coverage of the 2022 spring SGA elections, including data about the students who cast votes, can be read here.

BORSC Coordinator Fenton Krupp ’24

“I hope to continue a lot of the great work BORSC has done this year. We’ve had the opportunity to bring more students than I think have ever been in the boardroom before, we had over 20 student leaders at the board meeting back in October. We’ve faced a little difficulty working with administration, so I’m hoping to work more with students. I think that’s a more systematic problem with SGA, is existing in this insulated thing, so I want to go more directly to students and work with more student groups.

[I’m] excited to have the opportunity to do it again, I think there’s a lot of strength in having a BORSC person who’s been there for more than one year. It’s very intimidating going into the boardroom, so having that experience, having them know me, having some relationships already, I think it’s going to be an even better year than it was already.”

DISC Coordinator Mbuyisile Tlhwaele ’23

“As the DISC Coordinator over the last year, I have learnt how to facilitate and guide the Multicultural organizations. I have encouraged them to fulfill their missions, I have conquered challenges with them, and I have provided them with the support that they have needed to ensure that they are successful. I have enjoyed working with student organizations. I love ensuring that they have the ability, resources, and funds to reach their full potential.

I have been the DISC Coordinator for the last year, and I was co-chair for KARIBU in 2020-2021.”

PAC Coordinator 

Sol Potek ’25

“An important piece to me is focusing on nonpartisanship and providing educational opportunities for people across the ideological spectrum. For a long time I think that PAC sort of sought to maybe push some sort of agenda, and I’m trying to maybe separate from the old PAC and maybe move towards a PAC that is really serving everyone on campus, not just those who the members agree with ideologically. For me, that’s the most important thing.

I’m running for reelection, but it’s a little bit of an interesting situation. I didn’t run the first time. I stepped into this position starting in February following J-term, the previous PAC coordinator stepped down due to some conflicts. They had some other stuff going on, so this is really my first chance to take a look at what it looks like to run in an SGA election at all, so it’s all pretty new to me to be honest. I’m excited to see how it goes.”

SOC Coordinator 

Nazareth Salazar

Toruño ’25

“If elected as the new SOC coordinator, I will work to continue to make St. Olaf a more diverse community that promotes healthy interactions among students. My goals are to help students carry out their initiatives, support organizations with bureaucratic processes, and mentor leaders to make their organizations safe and inclusive spaces for all St. Olaf students.

As a member of SGA, I would like to make our work more visible to the community to encourage organizations to collaborate with us and make use of the resources SGA offers. Through my position as SOC coordinator, I would like to foster the interest and engagement of student leaders in the roles of the SGA branches to achieve greater participation and competition in future elections.”

VN Coordinator 

Noah Massanari ’23

“If elected as coordinator, I will continue to work towards VN’s goal of providing Oles with the opportunity to serve the broader community. This includes funding and advising on-campus volunteer programs and working with off-campus organizations to provide volunteer opportunities. For example, this may look like providing transportation for on-site volunteering in the Twin Cities or hosting community-building events on campus. Additionally, I will work closely with ACE and SGA leadership to promote a service-oriented culture where all Oles have a chance to be civically engaged both in and outside of their academics.”

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