With abnormality becoming the new norm, one thing remained constant in March as students adjusted to life online: GSBA elections.
Although the elections and campaigning moved online, students were still able to view photos and information on candidates through Instagram and other platforms.
Now, the elected officers have been announced and President Fese Elango and Vice President Taylor Sipila are ready to serve the Gonzaga community in the midst of chaos.
“Excited,” Elango said. “I’d say that’s the biggest emotion I feel.”
Elango joined GSBA her freshman year at GU as one of two election commissioners. The next year, she became director of diversity and inclusion and continued to serve in that position through her junior year. Now a rising senior, president seemed like the natural next step for this GSBA veteran.
“President was the role I wanted to lead in just because of all of the time I’ve gotten to spend on GSBA,” she said. “I’ve gotten to see what works really well and what doesn’t work so well. So, getting to be someone who helps initiate that climate and work with the GSBA team [is really exciting.]”
Elango and Sipila decided to run together after Elango approached Sipila with the idea. Sipila accepted the offer and said it was a situation where if they weren’t doing it together, they probably wouldn’t have done it.
Sipila joined GSBA after returning from studying abroad in Florence, Italy, in spring 2019. She had previously worked for SpikeNights as an event planner and joined GSBA after being encouraged to apply for a similar position, director of campus events.
She served in this position until asked by Elango to run as her vice president.
“[Sipila] is someone who makes me want to be a better person,” Elango said. “She is one of the best people I’ve met on campus and I couldn’t imagine getting to do this without her.”
The pair ran on the fundamental values of community, compassion and courage.
“We want to get people connected and get students engaged who aren’t normally engaged,” Sipila said. “So, we can build that theme really strong in GSBA and then see it trickle down to the student body.”
Sipila said they hope to continue work that outgoing GSBA President Michael Tanaka was working on, and work done by Elango as director of diversity and inclusion, like funding the Undocumented Student Scholarship.
Elango said they also want to focus on increasing student presence where decisions are made, increasing visibility for students and increasing food security.
“The socioeconomic status of students is something that is not addressed on campus as much,” she said. “So, we are really looking to partner with organizations like Gonzaga Against Poverty and Homeless Sodexo, organizations that cater to food and nutrition.”
Sipila and Elango both acknowledged that they are coming into the position at a unique time, but they both hope that at the end of next year they’ll be able to say they had a good year working together and that they catered to the community.
“The biggest thing about next year [in light of COVID-19] will be trying to meet people where they’re at,” Elango said. “We are at the will of the world right now. So, whatever plan is going to be the safest for all the students, we’ll have to find a way around that.”
Even with the added obstacles, Elango and Sipila said they are grateful for the opportunity to serve GU.
“It doesn’t feel real,” Elango said. “We are in charge of programming the student experience. It feels so crazy to be in a position where you really get to have an impact on Gonzaga and to be in a position that I have looked up to.”