State of the Students Address summarizes SGA achievements

For the first time in seven years, the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted the State of the Students Address to discuss what the SGA and the Board of Trustees have learned over the past few years and how they’re advancing Ramapo’s mission.

Jakub Zak, the student trustee for the Board of Trustees, opened the address. He shared some of the Board’s achievements in the past year, which includes maintaining the price of tuition and fees and creating a statistics minor and a neuroscience major.

Zak then dove deeper into diversity, shared governance, student well-being and the college’s mission, which is what he views as the core of what Ramapo has been striving for.

“I think the state of the student at Ramapo College is amazing.”

– Jakub Zak

Zak read the college’s mission statement, emphasizing how Ramapo is committed to interdisciplinary and intercultural learning, diversity, and community involvement. He highlighted that this mission is brought to life within and outside the classroom, where students are taught “human skills,” such as creativity, communication and collaboration.

“I’m here to tell you that the liberal arts mission of Ramapo College is more valuable right now than… students as a whole envision it to be,” he said.

He believes that Ramapo students who embrace diversity are more capable of leadership and that the college supports diversity by accepting and hiring more diverse people to attend and work at the school.

“Diversity is alive and well at Ramapo,” he said.

Zak then highlighted the element of shared governance, which he said comes through in students participating in the school’s decision-making. He also debunked the preconception that the school’s administration may not want to hear student opinions.

“Sometimes people that are much older come up to us and ask us questions because they want to know our perspective,” he said. “Don’t be ashamed to share your perspective because it’s tremendously valuable.”

In his final remarks, Zak shared how Ramapo is supporting students’ well-being, mainly by working to incorporate wellness days into the calendar. He said that Dean of Students Melissa Van Der Wall and President Cindy Jebb are always open to ideas and feedback about how to improve student wellness.

“This is the state of the student,” he said. “I think the state of the student at Ramapo College is amazing.”

Paolo Miyashiro-Bedoya served as SGA president this year alongside Vice President Janea Tozer-Murphy. Photo by Rebecca Gathercole

SGA President Paolo Miyashiro-Bedoya took the stage next, talking about the student body’s triumphs from the past year.

“We have come together as a community to support each other through celebrations as well as in tragedies. As Roadrunners, we are always moving forward no matter if it’s a simple step or major leaps and bounds,” he said.

Miyashiro-Bedoya shared that 40% of this year’s first-year class is first-generation students — the highest percentage in Ramapo’s history. He shouted out the school’s newest initiatives: the First-Generation Student Center and the Multicultural Center.

He also highlighted all the hard work the SGA has done this year, passing 19 bills from addressing campus safety to advocating for feminine hygiene products in campus bathrooms. They have also collaborated with campus organizations for a variety of events, such as Oktoberfest and Founder’s Day.

Beyond that, the SGA created awareness about national events, such as the Monterey Park shooting, and found ways to support the affected communities. For example, the SGA joined with other SGAs and signed an open letter to Congress, urging them to protect Roe v. Wade.

To close, Miyashiro-Bedoya highlighted Ramapo students and organizations for their excellent events, such as the American Cancer Society at Ramapo’s Relay for Life and the United Asian Association’s Monterey Park vigil, and impressive accomplishments from the Enactus team, The Ramapo News, athletic teams and individual students who have presented research at various conferences.

“I hope from my speech you’ve come to have a little bit of a better understanding on what SGA has been up to and what’s been going on across the student body,” he said. “I hope you’ll take the time when you notice your friends that are achieving great things, you encourage them, you congratulate them, give them their flowers.”

Featured photo by Rebecca Gathercole