Student LifeMeet the Leaders of Bryn Mawr's SGAFrom left: SGA executive board members Delia Landers, Anna Huang, Alisha Clark, Nanda Bhushan, and Swati Shastry.
"The name of this association shall be the Self-Government Association of the Undergraduate School of Bryn Mawr College, hereafter known as SGA. The purpose of SGA shall be to govern the undergraduate student body, to center the needs of the students, and to uplift the voices of marginalized communities."
Formed in 1892, Bryn Mawr’s SGA is the first self-governance association formed at an institution of higher learning in the United States — it was a major step that gave students the responsibility to not only enforce rules of behavior upon themselves, but also to decide what those rules should be. Today, many Bryn Mawr students and graduates cite self-governance as one of the most valuable parts of a Bryn Mawr education.
The current executive board, which is entirely student-run and consists of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and head of the Honor Board, was elected last spring. Next year, SGA will hold spring elections for a new e-board — a new group of leaders and changemakers.
For Delia, Bryn Mawr’s Self-Government Association provides an incredibly unique and powerful structure for student agency and expression. She uses her position as best she can to “continually strive to make every student’s voice heard." As Secretary, she’s well-equipped to do so; her job is to take minutes at SGA meetings and Plenary, keep up regular communication with the rest of the student body, and meet with a group of student representatives (members-at-large) to organize community outreach initiatives and publicity efforts. The biggest challenge in this role is making sure that everyone is accurately represented and that information is easy to access; even at a small college like Bryn Mawr, she thinks that the e-board should be continually re-evaluating how SGA operates, and working to make it more inclusive, accessible, and representative of the campus community.
Nanda Bhushan ’19 performed in marching band for eight years — all the way through high school. She didn’t translate that experience to her time at Bryn Mawr, but what she did bring with her was the experience of a supportive, close-knit community. Coming from a small private high school in Dallas, Texas, she was drawn to Bryn Mawr because of the individuals she met with “very defined identities," and the most present examples of that for her were people in Bryn Mawr’s Self Governance Association.
Through academics (she’s a double major in Computer Science and International Studies), she developed a critical lens through which to view and improve the world. Through SGA, she says, she developed a critical lens to view and improve Bryn Mawr. Here especially, she said, “students have the opportunity to mobilize on campus, and self-governance is an important medium for that kind of change." As SGA Vice President, her primary role is to serve as the chair of the appointments committee; the committee meets several times a semester to interview and appoint various leaders in the campus community.
When it comes to SGA, Anna Huang ’19 brings a variety of experiences to the table. An international student from Wuhan, China, she ran for office after realizing how difficult it was for many treasurers to budget according to the SGA format, and how important those budgets were to clubs and individuals. This year, she's used her past work as a club participant and SFC (Student Finance Committee) member to support on-campus organizations and events.
In her past few months as Treasurer, she's already hosted budget information sessions, re-evaluated the SGA funding and reimbursement process to make it more transparent for students, and trained several brand-new SFC members. But she isn’t stopping there! Anna hopes to rewrite the SGA bylaws to make them more formal and accessible, improve intra-campus funding transfer procedures, and provide “user-friendly” guidelines for clubs to refer back to during their budgeting processes. Coupled with her double majors in Math and Chemistry, this doesn’t leave Anna much free time, but she usually tells her friends to find her in cozy-looking Denbigh or the Park Science lab.
Born in Canada, raised in India, and with her current “home base” in Austin, Texas, Swati Shastry ’18 hails from all over. A Political Science major and Psychology minor, she sees Bryn Mawr — and SGA — as spaces that have helped her become both self-confident and self-aware. In keeping with that growth, Swati cites self-governance as an opportunity for every student to have a voice and contribute to change.
As Head of the Honor Board, Swati's primary job is to work with the Dean of the Undergraduate College (Jennifer Walters) to facilitate and conduct hearings on the academic and social aspects of the Honor Code. She also works with students, to make the Code more accessible/understandable and discuss how it shapes Bryn Mawr as a community; as well as with faculty, to facilitate student connection and brainstorm ways to bring up topics like plagiarism and inappropriate collaboration. Oh, and she gets to make the PowerPoint slideshow for the weekly SGA meeting, which is open to the whole campus (recent notable themes include Drake songs and Halloween costumes).
Alisha Clark ’18 is charming, sweet, eloquent, and a force to be reckoned with. This is Alisha's first time holding an SGA position, but she’s no stranger to leadership on campus. In her time at Bryn Mawr, she’s worked actively with and for Communications, Dining Services, the Pensby Center, and Admissions, to name a few. She notes that Bryn Mawr communities “have shown me that they believe in me." She, in turn, sees SGA as her chance to give back to those communities.
And it seems that she's been successful; in only the past few months, the new SGA President has made significant changes to the structure and expectations of Plenary, implemented a new voting system, spearheaded a collaborative drive with Migrant Rights Coalition, and more. It's clear that she is constantly pushing to make SGA a community that empowers the marginalized. It’s also clear that her variety of experiences on-campus have given her a platform to do so (she’s a Sociology major with a Health Studies minor, in a characteristic “bridging” of social science approaches and STEM questions). The most important factor in her presidency, Alisha says thoughtfully, is “showing up”; being consistently present, seeking to enact systemic change on a campus that she cares deeply about.