Meet your 2022-2023 student body presidents: Interconnectivity, wellness and joy on this year’s agenda

Six students pose in front of the Scripps campus.
This year’s student presidents are ready to tackle issues concerning the 5C community. (Florence Pun • The Student Life)

As COVID-19 policies relax across the 5Cs, this year’s student body presidents are more focused than ever on creating community and fostering wellness. 

While each president has specific plans and goals for their respective school, one ambitious, common theme echoes throughout all their platforms: rebuilding connections and support systems at the 5Cs after several years of social isolation and widespread uncertainty. 

Vera Berger PO ’23 (she/they)

After working to improve issues at Pomona College ranging from its disciplinary conduct process to its sustainability initiatives, Vera Berger PO ’23 is bringing her attention to the individual student.

“[ASPC] has the power to advocate for students and make institutional change,” Vera Berger PO ’23

“[ASPC] has the power to advocate for students and make institutional change,” said Berger, who has two years of ASPC experience under her belt. “It just has such a broad reach.” 

In terms of academics, Berger wants to rework Pomona’s credit system to help students succeed. Her two main goals are to implement a pass/fail grading policy for first years, similar to Harvey Mudd’s, and to ensure students enrolled in science classes receive lab credits. 

Berger also wants to make sure that student workers are receiving support and being properly compensated for their labor. 

“One way to do that would be to increase the limit for the weekly number of hours that they can work,” Berger said. “Another would be looking for ways to compensate students who can’t get a social security number.”

Another tenet of Berger’s platform is environmentalism. She hopes to advance Pomona’s sustainability efforts and bring the school closer to carbon neutrality. 

“We’re just starting to implement a carbon offset pilot program,” Berger said. “I’m interested in getting a solar farm to move toward renewable energy. I think there are a lot of sustainability initiatives that we can work on while trying to divest [from fossil fuels].” 

When it comes to wellness, Berger wants to make mental and reproductive health resources more readily available to the student body across the 7Cs. She cited the Health Education Outreach Office as an example. 

“[The HEO] is a 7C office that offers safe sex supplies, a relaxation room, a wellness garden, pregnancy testing, and counseling,” Berger said. “I think that’s another thing that we need to advertise to students because that’s a super awesome wellness resource that people don’t know about.” 

But at her platform’s foundation is the need to focus ASPC initiatives on students — to truly care for each individual and bring Pomona’s traditions, events and campus life back in full force. 

“The last two years, ASPC has provided care packages to students,” Berger said. “I think that’s a really great way to make an impact on students’ college experience.” 

She added that she also wants to bring back traditional events such as 4/7 day—a celebration of Pomona’s history and legacy, and Nochella—Pomona Events Committee’s music festival, and coordinate with alumni in order to help connect current students with Pomona graduates. 

Megan Chow SC ’23 (she/her)

After feeling supported by the Scripps College community for three years, Megan Chow SC ’23 is approaching her role as Scripps Associated Students (SAS) president with a mindset of giving back.

“I’ve always felt held by the community at Scripps and inspired by the hard work SAS does to continuously support students,” Chow told TSL via email. “I want to be someone who students can easily approach and rely on to advocate for them, and to be a resource and support system for them, just as the Scripps community has been for me.”

Chow is focused on making sure students feel seen, heard and empowered to participate in decision-making processes on campus. 

“My main goal is to further connect with the Scripps community and listen to individual stories so that I can better advocate for students and understand their needs.” — Megan Chow SC ’23

“My main goal is to further connect with the Scripps community and listen to individual stories so that I can better advocate for students and understand their needs,” Chow said via email.

Including a range of voices and perspectives in her work, particularly from students of marginalized backgrounds, is one way Chow wants to promote an inclusivity at Scripps.

“As a representative of the entire student body, I want to ensure that a diverse set of student voices are being heard,” she said. “I want to especially uplift, highlight and protect students from underrepresented backgrounds.” 

Noting that there aren’t many opportunities for students and administrators to interact face-to-face, Chow wants to ensure that students are in the know about important issues and that they’re being prioritized by people in power at Scripps.

“I want to see more transparency and a smoother, easier line of communication between students and the administration,” Chow said via email. “I want to see the administration and Board of Trustees prioritizing students and treating us with the respect, thought and care that exists within our own community.”

Josh Nagra CM ’23 (he/him)

Josh Nagra CM ’23, this year’s student body president of ASCMC, is working to change the system from the inside at Claremont McKenna College. Though fairly new to ASCMC, Nagra looks forward to utilizing his experience working with the Trevor Project and as a mental health and wellness officer at CMC to achieve his goals on campus.

“It was a really big transition to become president because all these other people had all this institutional and procedural knowledge that I didn’t have,” Nagra said. “I think my inexperience forced me to work as a team with the people that I’m around, which has forced me to become experienced.”

At the heart of his campaign is creating a “community of care” — a term Nagra uses to represent his hopes for CMC’s students as they adjust to a fully in-person campus life. To accomplish this, he will encourage students to connect — for example, by organizing retreats and other bonding activities for clubs and opening CMC buildings as relaxation spaces and meeting places for affinity groups.  

“[It’s about] creating a community that cares about one another regardless of if you’re in a class with them, regardless of if you know them.” — Josh Nagra CM ’23

“[It’s about] creating a community that cares about one another regardless of if you’re in a class with them, regardless of if you know them,” Nagra said. “Just making a community that is happy to help other people.”

Another priority in Nagra’s campaign is to promote inclusivity in order to make students feel welcomed and safe on campus. One form of this, he said, is to encourage faculty members to ask students for, and respect, their pronouns.

Ultimately, Nagra envisions a shift towards a less heteronormative and more accepting culture at CMC.

“We can have a bunch of tiny, minute changes on campus that individually are positive,” Nagra said. “But if we’re not able to somehow cohesively connect those into a way to make those initiatives support one another and start staying in CMC’s structure for a really long time, these tiny little changes are not as valuable.”

Nagra also sees this shift toward systemic inclusivity as a way to improve students’ mental health. 

“Realistically, you’re just catching students downstream with therapy resources or other mindfulness and wellness resources, rather than trying to develop a community that doesn’t allow people to get to that point in the first place,” he said.

Looking to the future, Nagra is excited to utilize the wealth of resources that the 5C’s have to offer, including the input of the other student body presidents. 

“Maybe there’s something that Scripps does really well that CMC could use,” Nagra said. “Being able to talk to the SAS president and asking them like, ‘How do you do that? How would you implement it?’”

Mavis Stone HM ’23 (they/them)

Mavis Stone, president of Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College (ASHMC), is used to the demands of being in leadership positions at Mudd. As a sustainability representative their first year and a wellness committee director their sophomore and junior years, Stone has a strong grasp on the issues they want to focus on as president.

One of their main pillars is creating an atmosphere on campus more rooted in community engagement and political awareness, both in and out of the classroom.

“I know some people would appreciate a more political atmosphere on campus,” Stone said. 

To help foster a political climate, Stone thinks Mudd should provide students with subsidized or free subscriptions to news publications, as well as host community-oriented speakers on-campus, which could help them stay in touch with the world around them and give them a break from school work.

“I think people would appreciate [accessibility to news publications]. I know I would appreciate it,” they said. “I’m currently using my friend from Scripps’ New York Times subscription to access articles.”

Drawing from their experience working in wellness for ASHMC, Stone’s top priority is preserving student wellbeing and health in Mudd’s rigorous academic environment. Stone believes implementing a Mudd community garden would create a more well-rounded experience for students.

“I think being able to bring people together around food and cooking promotes organic conversation.” — Mavis Stone HM ’23

“I think being able to bring people together around food and cooking promotes organic conversation,” Stone said. “And it gives you relationships you wouldn’t have formed in the classroom or at your dorm.”

While improving the accessibility of therapy for students may be difficult, Stone still doesn’t shy away from trying. For a short period of time during the 2017-2018 academic year, Mudd did provide its own therapy, but the service was disbanded after mixed reviews from students.

“I think what the Department of Student Affairs didn’t recognize was that finding the right therapist takes time,” Stone said. “So even though they may not have had the perfect therapist for everyone, they needed to think of a more flexible way to help accommodate everyone, rather than completely eliminating one of the largest resources Mudders had.”

Michelle Muturi PZ ’23 (she/her)

Instead of spending last spring’s election season putting up flyers and campaigning, Pitzer Student Senate president Michelle Muturi was busy studying abroad in London, so she had to find creative ways to introduce herself to the student body. 

Muturi focused her platform on connections built with peers in previous years at Pitzer, fitting for her goals of rebuilding social networks and student joy.

“I feel like, during my time here, one thing I’ve done well is being able to interact with students of any age,” Muturi said. “I love to listen to and learn from students of different backgrounds.”

It’s also important to Muturi that forming social connections includes promoting relationships between students and faculty.

“Are we fostering a community where students feel open to talk to the people that work so hard to be of service to them?” — Michelle Muturi PZ ’23

“Are we fostering a community where students feel open to talk to the people that work so hard to be of service to them?” Muturi said. “That coherence and interconnectivity is my biggest priority.”

After Pitzer’s online social network, Student Talk, was temporarily shut down last spring due to multiple instances of harassment and bullying, Muturi is taking the lead on defining the role the platform will play in current and future academic years.

“We worked with Student Talk, which was always an opt-out thing, and now it’s become opt-in,” Muturi stated.

Muturi also wants to emphasize the benefits of a consortium by holding more cross-campus events, since student interactions have been limited over the last several years.

“Coming into the school, I didn’t understand what a consortium was coming from a country, [Kenya], where that doesn’t exist … we eat together, we take classes together, you can graduate from one and the other, that opportunity is different,” Muturi said. “How we are nurturing that difference within the 5Cs is something I [want to] look at.”

For each of her goals, Muturi stressed the importance of longevity, care and sustainability over short-term accomplishments.

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