The second of two new cabinet positions created by SGA President Stephan Lally in the spring semester was filled last week, as student Aina Yudav was appointed secretary of sustainability by senate vote. Yudav follows secretary of diversity and inclusion Kate Bahaj, a junior appointed to the SGA cabinet in the final weeks of last semester.
Lally created the positions after reading the College’s strategic plan for the years 2014 through 2018 and noting a demand for an increased focus on sustainability and diversity at Ramapo College. Lally believed that demand needed to be recognized by the student government.
“Those were two areas of focus SGA did not have,” said Lally, “and I thought it was hypocritical for us to push the administration on diversity topics and topics relating to sustainability when the SGA is not addressing them itself.”
Both Yudav and Bahaj intend on setting the pace for future holders of their newly-created positions. Yudav hopes to use her cabinet seat as an educational platform.
“Students learn best when they are presented with incentives,” she said. “I want to encourage students to be sustainable, but not knock them down in their efforts. I don’t want to point out what they’re doing wrong, but rather what they’re doing right.”
Yudav also stated her intention is to reach out and work with Ramapo’s facilities department to increase the number of recycling bins available on campus.
“There are more recycling bins indoors in the academic buildings than there are outdoors,” Yudav said, “You very rarely see a recycling bin outside.”
“My first duty is helping students see we do have diversity issues on campus,” said Bahaj, who agrees cooperation between organizations is key for effective leadership.
“Whether those are problems within the system of the school or within our community, I want to address these issues and make students feel comfortable enough to be open about the issues they’re experiencing,” she continued.
In addition to her role within the SGA, Bahaj holds positions on the boards of the Muslim Student Association, the BSU’s Students of Caribbean Ancestry group and is currently working to revive the inactive student Diversity Action Committee. Bahaj hopes to use her roles within these organizations to close the divides she says exist between certain minority groups on campus.
“There is tension between them,” she said, “Sometimes they won’t want to co-sponsor events with one another. We have to remove these stigmas between us as minorities if we want to come together and make a difference.”