Apr 2, 2021 | NEWS | By Riley Prillwitz | Photo by Patil Khakhamian and courtesy of Gaby Jadotte
On Friday, March 19, Colorado College students received an email from CCSGA (Colorado College Student Government Association) about the latest student elections.
Among the list of elected candidates were Student Body President-elect Deksyos Damtew ’22 and Student Trustee-elect Gaby Jadotte ’22
“I decided to run for student body president because I believe in empathy, empowering student voices, and CCSGA as an elected body for positive change on campus,” Damtew said. He beat out his running mate, Sophie Cardin ’22.
“I was fortunate that the student I was running against, Sophie Cardin, was supportive in the election process and was dedicated to pushing CC towards a lot of similar goals as mine.”
Jadotte experienced similar feelings as to why she ran for student trustee.
“I ran for student trustee because I felt that I would bring a well-rounded and comprehensive student perspective to the board,” Jadotte said.
The election process was a huge commitment for the candidates. The pandemic exacerbated these commitments, as the campaign required more outreach through the internet than ever before.
“This year’s election process was definitely very interesting,” Jadotte said. “After I was approved by the board, I began reaching out to different communities I am a part of on campus. Most of my campaign was based on texting and social media posts, so I spent most of election week glued to my phone.”
Damtew also had to work through social media. “To be honest, campaigning was stressful and intimidating. As someone who doesn’t spend much time with social media advertisement, I was a fish out of water when it came to virtual campaigning.”
“So, I enlisted the help of some friends who were gracious enough to support me in creating materials,” Damtew said. “I focused my attention on meeting with student groups and hearing about ways CCSGA could be more responsive to student’s needs.”
The hard work and stress all paid off when Damtew was elected by the students at the school. “It was surreal,” he said.
“I got an email from CCSGA congratulating me and welcoming me in as the next student body president … I was just so thankful for the opportunity and honored that the student body was willing to support me.”
Jadotte also received an email. “I found out I was elected through an email from Nicolette Gordillo-LaRiviere, a member of CCSGA election commission on Friday, March 19. I had been waiting for the election results for most of the afternoon, so it was exciting to get the good news!”
Damtew is looking forward to the new role. “I’m most excited to meet more students,” he said. “CC has been a second home for me and in a very difficult year I’ve missed all the bright faces around campus.”
But the election is not the end of the hard work for the student body president-elect. This is only the beginning of the job for the upcoming school year.
“I want to start my presidency by taking the time to listen to students across campus,” Damtew said. “As much time as it takes, I want to get know as many student groups, initiatives, and faces at CC as possible.”
“I then want to push the administration to allow students to serve on committees across campus. Far too often, the college makes decisions about students without students in the room or without granting students the right to vote in the decision-making process. Overall, I always come back to three areas I want to improve upon at CC: accessibility, accountability, and transparency,” Damtew said.
Jadotte also has the goal to work hard in her new position and fulfill the requirements set for the student trustee.
“As student trustee my role is to bring a student perspective to board decisions to ensure that student interests are represented in college legislation,” Jadotte said. “While most members of the board are CC alums, many board members do not live in the Colorado Springs area. As a current student, I have the best understanding of the current culture on campus and how students feel about it.”
“My biggest goal is to increase the community’s understanding of what the board does and how it affects them as students and alums,” Jadotte said. “Elliott Williams did an incredible job this year reaching out to different organizations and groups to explain the college’s finances and I cannot wait to continue where he left off! I also hope to push for increased support for anti-racism efforts, so students and faculty of color feel more at home on campus.”
With the hard work comes specific challenges that Damtew will have to meet during his term.
“Being completely new to the position I want to honor the accomplishments and momentum created by our current Student Body President Sakina Bhatti,” Damtew said. “Sakina has ignited change across this campus well before being elected as our student body president and a great mentor who is helping me address my first challenge: learning the roles and responsibilities of the student body president.”
“I want to start off by listening to students, but also know that actions matter, so I want to get started on enacting some of the changes that I addressed in my campaign. I’m eager to get to work but definitely don’t want to overstep as my role at the moment is to transition into the position,” he said.
Damtew understands the importance of his role and feels the pressure of carrying out business to the best of his abilities.
“I am most nervous about falling behind,” Damtew said. “I have just two months to transition and I really want to hit the ground running next year when it comes to pushing CC towards its anti-racism initiative.”
But he already has strategies in place to keep him on track. “To keep myself grounded I’ve surrounded myself with students who are experienced in social movements and governance at CC,” Damtew said.
There are also specific points of the role to be excited for. Jadotte is especially excited about “the transitional year CC is about to begin. With the start of L. Song Richardson’s tenure as president and the return to in-person learning, I think there will be a lot of momentum and excitement surrounding the college and the board,” she said.
“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate in the voting process during such a high stress period,” Jadotte said. “I am excited to represent an extremely unique community and to make a lasting impact on CC’s future. I cannot wait to begin my position in July and get back to campus with the rest of my classmates this August!”
Damtew has an important message he wants the student body of CC to understand about him as the new student body president.
“I really want to move the position of student body president away from appearing to be unapproachable,” Damtew said. “I’m also a student who is stressed about classes, what I’ll be doing in the future, and if people will laugh at me for only being able to make three meals. As I stated earlier, I’m excited to meet new students and believe in the power of empathy and how far it can take us.”
Both Damtew and Jadotte are ready to commit to their new positions and work towards change in the CC community.