Editor’s Note: This interview appears as it was recorded, but has been edited for length and clarity.
Last Sunday I sat down with Cameron Goodall, Kalamazoo College’s Student Commission President, to ask him about where he’s been, where he is, and where he hopes to go during his time in the Commission’s highest office.
How have you found your first year so far?
It’s been good so far. I was around Darrin [Camilleri ‘14] a lot last year being V.P. It’s different seeing someone in that role, than actually being in it. Before I was much more hands-on with projects and it’s been a big transition for me to kind of step away from that and become more of a point person for Commissioners. I’m the one holding all of the reins, but not the one who’s driving all of the time. It’s different, but it’s a learning process the whole time.
Describe your range of emotion during last spring’s elections and how it felt to be elected.
It wasn’t the Election Day that made me nervous; it was all of the build up going into Election Day. Even though it was technically an uncontested position, there was still a write-in candidate running. But having that finally set into place, it was a big relief. Then there was the stress of figuring what was going to happen for the next year. It was like a non-stop process and it has been since day one.
As President, what would you say are your biggest priorities?
The first thing was kind of restructuring StuComm addressing issues that I’ve had in the past, where I didn’t feel like things were really connected or efficient. Another thing was M and D, which has had a lot of good strides so far. Instead of treating each committee like they’re completely separate things, recognizing that there are things that affect all committees, like matters of multiculturalism and diversity. But the first thing’s first would have to be elections: making sure that we are advertising for the first years who are going to run, making sure all of the new commissioners, because there were several new commissioners, were all on the same page going into the first couple of meetings. Overall, it’s been shaping StuComm and then allowing that shape to allow each committee to do what we want, so that’s how it’s starting to go.
Mia Henry, the Arcus Center’s Executive Director, spoke at last week’s Commission meeting about multiculturalism and diversity. What did it mean to the Commission to have her there, and what was its takeaway?
I think it was productive, and I really think that it really is going to help open up these kinds of conversations to commissioners who don’t always have it. It’s also something that’s ongoing and continuing. That’s part of the training that we wanted, and are applicable not just to issues of multiculturalism and diversity, but to any sort of issue that comes up on campus. We may be opening cabinet sessions to continue to open up space for these conversations, especially when it comes to the work that affects their committees. I think it was a good sort of starting point. Mia did a wonderful job to tie together everything that was said.
Earlier you mentioned Alex Werder, who ran as a write-in candidate for the Presidency last spring, how have your working and personal relationships developed since the election?
Fine, absolutely fine. Alex was wonderful. He and I had a great relationship before he went abroad. We hadn’t seen each other for a year, but we sat down and talked about it, being close friends. I always go to him if I have questions for things. He’s been kind of like a sidekick for me on StuComm. We were on E-Board together our sophomore year, and he’s always on top of his stuff.
Sometimes he seems like a living version of the Constitution, because he knows so much about it.
Yeah. He’s a Poli-Sci major, so he’s on top of his stuff. He’s also been on StuComm since the fall quarter of his freshman year, so a quarter before I joined. He speaks very confidently all the time, but it doesn’t mean that everything he says is always true. There’s been checks where things aren’t 100 percent correct, but he’s on top of his game and has been a great resource for the Commission and has helped build up other commissioners so far, so that’s been really nice.
The Student Commission has been much more conservative with budget approvals this year. Why is this?
Well it’s a new Commission with new people, and some of FPC have never been on the Commission before. I think a lot of the time there’s that wanting to appease kind of everything that’s going on. We’re students representing other students, and are saying yes, or no to what they want to do. In the past, that’s been something where you don’t want to step on the toes of people trying to do things. You want people to do what they want to do. Something that I’ve seen the Commission take more seriously is wanting to see ideas that are fully developed. We’ve had issues in the past where we would fund things and then they wouldn’t go through, because of lack of plans. So this is a way to hold other student organizations accountable to uphold the process that’s there. I don’t think it’s meant to not give funds, I think it’s meant to ensure that everything’s done in preparation for these events, so that commissioners and StuOrg leaders are putting in the time they need to be putting in. I think in the past we’ve been kind of lackadaisical when it comes to these issues, so now we’re making sure that everything is set before there’s approval for it.
At the end of the year, what do you want your legacy to be?
My biggest thing is making the Commission the most productive body it can be. I want people to see the Student Commission and say ‘okay, this is the group of students who can get things done, whatever it may be.’ I think there’s been that quarter-to-quarter mindset—the short-term goals. Even the year-to-year goals can be too short. This is a slow-moving institution in terms of when things get done. Having students being in that—I mean, we’re here for four years and then we’re done, so I’ve been trying to transition the Student Commission into the best-educated, the experts, on all these different areas of campus. I want the Commission to be the best resource on campus for students who want to work with the administration to get something done. So my legacy would be that. I hope that the yearlong term limit amendment passes, so that every Commissioner is trained to the best of their ability and knows what they’re doing all the time. As long as there is that longer, more seriousness to it, that’s what I want.