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Restoring lost connections, addressing lack of inclusion among main priorities for new ASW board

The new ASW board, President-elect Brendan Sudberry and Vice President-elect Deaun Saxby discuss their priorities in front of Converse Hall at Westminster College April 7.
President-elect Brendan Sudberry and Vice President-elect Deaun Saxby have a meeting in front of Converse Hall at Westminster College April 7. The new board said that they are putting community identity and school spirit at the forefront of their 2021-22 campaign. (Abby Mangum)

Missed opportunities during COVID-19 and a lack of diversity and inclusion are among the main focuses for ASW President-elect Brendan Sudberry and Vice President-elect Deaun Saxby, who won Westminster College’s ASW election in March 2021. 

Sudberry laid out a four-point plan during his campaign that aims to reconnect students and navigate a post-pandemic world in the coming academic year.

A key part of his plan is to revamp the ASW office, located in the Shaw Student Center, according to Sudberry.

“I think, for so long, people have felt like they don’t really know how to get in contact with ASW,” he said. “They don’t know who the ASW leaders are. [It’s] just this foreign office that sits in the corner of Shaw and no one ever really interacts with [them].”

Additionally, Sudberry and Saxby said in an open letter to the student body via the Forum they are “committed to community, accountability and inclusion.”

“I’m excited to see what Brendan and Deaun do next year,” said Peter Frank, a student at Westminster. “I hope we hold lots of events to bring the community back together again.”

Hunter Krebs, a finance and economics major, said she wants to see ASW more involved in student life.

“The [COVID-19] pandemic has taken a toll on all of us,” Krebs said. “I think we’re all ready to get back in person, and I hope our ASW is more involved with that next year.”

Sudberry said his motivation for running was missed opportunities from the previous ASW presidency in the 2020-21 academic year.

“This year, our community has been so heavily impacted by COVID,” Sudberry said. “I think ASW could have been that supportive connecting piece for the community and student body. And it just fell short.”

Sudberry said the upcoming academic year is an opportune time to restore lost connections and rebuild relationships among students and administrators. He plans to host a symposium during the first month of the Fall 2021 semester, inviting different groups around campus to discuss plans for navigating a college campus after the year-long pandemic.

Saxby said she hopes to use her new platform to help students of color across Westminster’s campus. 

“What originally inspired me was the lack of actual diversity and inclusion on the campus,” said Saxby, who also serves as the vice president of Westminster’s Black Student Union. “I was always hearing from students how they don’t feel wanted on this campus or even accepted on this campus.”

In a year from now, Saxby said she hopes the Westminster administration will follow through with its promises for diversity and inclusion as laid out on its website.

“I just feel like, personally, Westminster has let people of color down because they consistently talk about diversity,” Saxby said. “They put us on the website, they put our pictures everywhere, but yet when George Floyd was murdered, nobody reached out to us personally and was like, ‘Are you guys okay?’”

Even with future plans in store, the new leaders have some reservations as well.

“I just don’t want to fail,” Saxby said. “I know Brendan will help me along the way and I have a good support team, but I’m just really nervous about that.”

Sudberry said he fears not being able to meet student expectations during his tenure.

“So many times student body presidents come into these roles with huge ambitions for big structural change for the institution, which is fantastic,” Sudberry said. “But from these positions as student leaders, we don’t necessarily have that power to make these big changes, which I think is a big misconception amongst students. I think my fear is that students will expect things that we simply cannot deliver on our own, and the thought of letting them down in that sense — it stresses me out, quite frankly.”

When Sudberry and Saxby take the floor in the upcoming Fall 2021 semester, they said community identity and school spirit will be at the forefront of their campaign.

“I just hope we can really find ways for students to support other students,” Sudberry said.

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Abby Mangum
Abby Mangum is a senior communication major from Boise, Idaho. When she isn't playing basketball for the school team, you can find her daydreaming about running away to the hills of Switzerland or taking photos of nice people and nice things.

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