By Jax Dieugenio
The votes were cast, the polls had closed and the College’s Class of 2024 spoke, electing some of their peers to represent the newly entered student body to school administration.
Although an interview process is still underway to determine which electees will occupy each position, a panel of seven, uniquely qualified students have been chosen. The purpose of the Student Government’s Freshman Class Council is to serve as a liaison between the student body and the College’s administration in both the planning and execution of events.
With a remote semester underway, the freshmen elected members are adjusting to acting as the liaison between a student body they’ve never interacted with in person and a vague College administration they might never have met.
“My main goal is to help our class year get to know each other on a more personal level and make an impact on the TCNJ community while not on campus,” said Jan Egan, a freshman political science major and newly elected member to the class council. “The council has a load of exciting plans in order to accomplish that goal and we can’t wait to share them all with our peers.”
For many incoming first-year students, this semester has been met with a great deal of uncertainty. Reflective of this unease, the missions of the class council members aim to make the transition into remote learning seamless and create spaces of inclusivity, free-thinking and awareness in the new student body.
Also reflecting on her missions and goals was elected council member and speech pathology major, Juliana Morella.
“I had Student Government experience in high school and I loved every second of it,” she said. “I knew that I wanted to do something with Student Government coming into TCNJ in order to help get my fellow classmates become more involved while helping out my class to the best of my abilities. My main goal is to try to think of new ways for our class to meet new people whether it’s virtually or in-person while also getting the best experience possible in either scenario.”
Instituting a variety of virtual platforms to connect with fellow first-year students is a primary concern for each of the newly inducted council members.
“I would also like to connect with my classmates on a personal level,” Morella said. “I am super excited to start representing our class while also working with my fellow officers.”
Kim Abbas, a freshman political science and pre-law major, also provided insight into her council platform.
“I wanted to run for Student Government because in this tumultuous time of uncertainty and disconnection, I wanted to ensure that the voices of the freshman class are heard,” she said. “This year is unlike any other, and the importance of connection has become more vital than ever.”
Discussing the uniquely challenging nature of beginning college in the midst of a global pandemic, Abbas also shed light on the widespread feelings of loss and frustration felt by many students this semester.
“The freshman class has had to miss out on a lot of first experiences, and my goal is to help create an engaged and welcoming community despite the obstacles we face,” Abbas said. “I have always had a passion for Student Government because I want to help the student body make decisions that matter and will benefit them in the long run such as mental health awareness and more. I’m excited to get the ball rolling with my fellow council members to help produce the most memorable year at TCNJ for our class.”
The issue of mental health exists at the forefront of this global pandemic, and with copious amounts of disheartening news arriving daily, many students are struggling to find hope. This issue, perhaps most prevalent amongst college-age individuals, was one of the common concerns expressed by the elected council.
“One of my goals for this academic year is to promote our school’s Mental Health Services and to do my part in fighting the stigma taking care of our mental health, unfortunately, carries,” elected council member, Ryan Lin stated. Lin, an undecided major in the school of Humanities and Social Sciences went on to expound, “As someone who has personally struggled with my mental health freshman year of high school, I understand that transitioning into a new environment can be stressful, not to mention at such an unprecedented time in history.”