By Syeda Sameeha, Staff Writer
The board of trustees members Michelle Smith and Reverend Bernard Jakes went over the changes they saw at EC with the Student Government Association (SGA) on Thursday, Oct. 19.
Jakes is an alumni of Elmhurst College, from the Class of 1997, and currently a senior pastor at West Point Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois.
During his time at EC, Jakes was heavily involved with different activities on campus including Student Government.
“I said when I was a student that one day I would be appointed as a trustee. It’s important to give back. When I say I love Elmhurst College, this is my way of giving back,” said Jakes.
Smith is the chief marketing officer at EPAY Systems.
Unlike Jakes, Smith is not an alumni of Elmhurst College, but when presented with the opportunity to serve on the board of trustees she was intrigued and saw it as an opportunity to grow.
“Sometimes when you go through a career, go through your twenties, go through taking care of your family, you can get into a rut. You get used to the same people who work with you and you are around people who think the same,” said Smith. “I was presented this opportunity from another trustee who said, ‘we really need women to be on the board and we also need more marketing expertise.’ You take these types of opportunities because you really want to grow and learn in every situation you are in.”
During the meeting, Jakes remarked on the changes he saw at Elmhurst College from the time he had attended the school.
“I noticed that students of today are much more attentive in making sure the college does not get away with non-inclusivity,” Jakes said.
“This model is what the world looks like outside of EC. We live in a world where everyone must work with everyone and must learn to work with everyone,” continued Jakes.
SGA President Estrella Vargas agreed saying, “It was intentional and a lot of us ran to push diversity and inclusion forward in our college, and in the students’ minds.”
SGA Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Simone Salter added, “I think we are continuing bit by bit. Sometimes it’s about the little things such as saying your pronouns before conducting an SGA meeting.”
SGA representatives were also able to share what SGA was currently working on as well as express what they wanted from the board of trustees.
SGA Student Representative Lisa Dubin brought up her idea of building a food pantry to support those who are food insecure.
“There is a population on our campus that is food insecure,” Dubin explained, “as well as potentially homeless or becoming homeless.”
Later, Vargas asked for the trustees’ support in their upcoming endeavors and to continue to keep an open mind.
“We would love for the trustees to keep an open mind, support us, and above all, listen,” she said.
Salter agreed, “It would be nice to have a constant check-in instead of just having two meetings with the trustees, but I understand the trustees may have other obligations.”
At the end of the meeting, the trustees agreed to try to keep in touch more with SGA.
Jakes said, “I’ll make sure I give my info to you all and, perhaps once a month, I’ll come to the SGA meetings. I’ll make sure to listen and not dictate in these meetings, so I can take it back to the trustee meetings.”