Soltany and Dickson Reflect on their Tenure in SGA

By: Jake Carver ’21

Staff Writer

February’s inauguration of Itziri Gonzalez-Barcenas ‘19 and Osama Syed ‘19 to the SGA presidency and vice presidency respectively also marked the end of the administration of President Alex Soltany ‘18 and Vice President Malia Dickson ‘18. The duo reflected on their impact on Davidson over this past year.

Both Soltany and Dickson are proud of the changes they were able to put into effect during their terms. During the spring 2017 semester, Soltany and Dickson got off to a strong start by working with the Student Counseling Center to hire a substance abuse counselor. They also worked extensively on Davidson’s alcohol policy with Dean Jason Shaffer of the Residence Life Office after a startling five alcohol transports in the beginning of the 2017 fall semester. There was special focus on convincing the administration that the student body could unite to combat social issues without having to implement stricter policies.

Moreover, Soltany and Dickson demonstrated the strength of the student body by fighting to keep the Union Station open. Soltany said, “We made a conscious attempt to get students involved with SGA and school issues. Fighting to keep Union Station open was an example of that.”

Other major changes include the creation of a “Young Alumni Trustee” to better represent the current demographics and culture of Davidson to administration, redefining and clarifying the sexual misconduct policy, and having Physical Plant refill menstrual products in 24 locations.

As both Soltany and Dickson served in SGA for all four years of their time at Davidson, they were also intent on making internal changes to SGA. They added a permanent senate seat for athletes and increased the responsibilities for each senator.

That being said, the pair have a few regrets. Soltany and Dickson acknowledged that they laxed their efforts toward the end of their term in order for themselves to plan their post-collegiate lives. Furthermore, they admit that increased efforts in communicating and advertising to the student body would have made their initiatives more successful. They hope that newly inaugurated Gonzalez-Barcenas and Syed learn from these mistakes and bring in new ideas to counter them.

As Gonzalez-Barcenas has never served in SGA, the representatives may suffer a learning curve when they enter office. However, Soltany is optimistic about the outsider perspective Syed and Gonzalez-Barcenas can add during their terms. He stated: “It is both a blessing and a curse. I really do think SGA experience helps a lot with this position…On the other hand, they will have an open mindset and ideas that Malia and I have never thought of.”

Despite the length of their tenure in SGA, last winter, Soltany and Dickson were initially unsure if they wanted to run for office or even which positions they would run for. Both knew going in that it would be a challenge to balance their time correctly, stay motivated, and get ahead on their job search with the responsibilities of the office.

However, Soltany was inspired by his ailing grandfather because “he came to this country…[and] made my family feel like they were home. I feel at home at Davidson, but I know not everyone does. I wanted to do my best to change that.” Soltany and Dickson reflected this sentiment with their campaign slogan: “a better place for all of us.”

Regardless of the stress of their positions, Soltany and Dickson were grateful for their experiences. “I remember when I was a [first-year], I was the only girl in the executive room,” recalled Dickson. “I never thought I would be in this position, learning about the logistics of the school… but I’m glad I did it.”

Soltany and Dickson’s time with SGA has given them a unique perspective of Davidson. While it provided them with an inside look at school bureaucracy and administration, they also realized the agency students have on campus. “If you want to, you can get a lot of things done at Davidson, even if you aren’t in SGA,” said Dickson. “A lot of people don’t realize that, and it’s something you won’t find at a bigger school.”

Soltany even claimed his tenure helped him realize his passion for the medical field, saying “SGA is not political…you provide resources to students, like a doctor with medicine.”

Their time working together also strengthened an already close friendship. Dickson said that Soltany “helped [her] stay motivated when work piled up or [she] began to lose motivation”; conversely, Soltany credited Dickson with keeping him relaxed.

Both Soltany and Dickson described their relationship as akin to an “old married couple” and claim that their work together relied heavily on their knowledge and trust in each other. They had no issue passing work off to each other when necessary, and had a good sense of when the other was stressed out and needed a shoulder to lean on.

“[Dickson] gave me a lot of support,” said Soltany. “She gave me a lot of sage advice… words can’t express how grateful I am to have had her by my side this entire year.”

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