Mercer’s freshman class of 2024 elected their class senators to the Student Government Association this past month: Yash Jani, Dominic Ezekie, Benjamin Smith, Atia Bailey and Jalen Dedeaux. Jani received the most votes at 254 votes, landing him the position of Freshman Class President.
The Cluster reached out to the freshman Senators about their reasons for running, their platforms and any plans they had for the semester.
Yash Jani credits his decision to run to the leadership positions he held in high school as the president of his school’s Beta Club, an organization that focuses on promoting the ideals of academics, character, leadership and service to students. On top of that, he runs a foundation, the Ray of Hope, which helps provide resources to help children who have lost loved ones.
With the help of a friend, he created a platform for his campaign focusing on health and wellness. He hopes to achieve this goal through community engagement, service opportunities for students and recycling initiatives — with a special focus on improving the food options available on campus.
He said he didn’t expect the support he received. After he shared his campaign flyer with several of his friends, he was tagged in it over 400 times on Instagram by the end of the day.
“I was really surprised, and I was just happy that my friends and my peers and everyone at the school supported me to the extent that they did,” Jani said. “It was just inspiring and motivating, and it really pushes me to do better and and really achieve all of the platform goals that we had outlined.”
Dominic Ezekie said he wants to be a voice for his class during “this turbulent time.” He plans to improve communication between the administration and students, along with improving COVID-19 guidelines. His goal is to make the guidelines more consistent and allow freshmen to have as close to a typical college experience as possible.
“College is a time to meet new people and make connections through various events and clubs, but many of that will be hindered because of (COVID-19),” Ezkie said. “I want to mitigate that disadvantage as best I can.”
Benjamin Smith was a member of his Student Council during high school and wanted to continue being involved in student government at Mercer. His platform consisted of environmental awareness, student affairs and campus safety.
He encourages students interested in getting involved with SGA to join a committee or run for Senate next year.
“Don’t be scared to take on a position that seems like a lot, because people are there to help you,” Smith said. “They want you to succeed as well.”
Atia Bailey said she ran for SGA because she wanted to be able to use her ideas and passion in Mercer’s student government after not being able to do much for her high school’s student government. Her platform was on recycling initiatives, improved COVID-19 guidelines and maintaining the typical college experience during the pandemic.
She plans to work with Vice President and Dean of Students Dean Pearson to improve the COVID-19 guidelines and find a way to transport Mercer’s recycling to a plant. Bailey also encourages students to take part in elections going forward.
“I’m so proud of the voter turnout,” Bailey said. “And I hope that everyone takes advantage of their right to vote in the coming election.”
Jalen Dedeaux said he ran for SGA because of his desire to help the community. His platform focused on mental health and building community. He said that he wants to help make students’ college experience enjoyable.
“I’d like to do things that build and grow the community in a way that’s beneficial to everyone,” he said.