Editor’s note: Derek Gilmore has written for The Collegian.
“I just am really grateful for the opportunity to tackle things that I really want to see improve at this university," junior Derek Gilmore, the president elect of Richmond College Student Government Association, said.
Gilmore said he is most excited to see what the senators do with their personal projects and how he can help them.
“This year we’ve started to ask senators, ‘What’s one thing you want to pursue solo?’ And it’s shown to be really effective,” Gilmore said. “Our recent expansion of printers was the result of a senator project.”
For Gilmore, the first week of his presidency will center around meeting with senators to learn their motivations along with exploring potential paths for implementing his own ideas, he said.
This pursuit and exploration was a responsibility but also a tremendous gift that would allow him to talk to many campus leaders who could help him in tackling his most ambitious proposals, Gilmore said.
The priorities Gilmore ran on, as stated on his initial campaign poster, were longer Heilman Dining Center hours, providing a larger Multicultural Student Space, printers in every dormitory and extending the break before finals.
Gilmore said he recognized that some view these ideas as unattainable but had two criteria when choosing his more extensive plans.
“First criterion was what haven’t we made progress on. Then the second was what, if achieved, would have the greatest impact for the most amount of students?” he said. “I feel like it’s what I have to do because it’s something they don’t have but that they certainly deserve.”
Gilmore said his past as a senator on the Dining Services committee would assist him in his fight to increase the hours of the dining hall, as he already had relationships with representatives at Dining Services.
Gilmore said he was inspired to expand the Multicultural Student Space when recalling instances where Whitehurst was over capacity at certain multicultural events he attended. Then he learned that Tyler Haynes Commons, another student space, would be renovated.
“So as we look towards knocking out that third floor, making sure that we create a sizable multicultural space is what I was thinking,” Gilmore said. “Certainly in talking with other senators and Dean Boehman as well, that is the natural thought behind what that space on the third floor could be.”
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Gilmore said the initiative to install printers in every dorm was already in the trial stage with the recent addition of printers in Whitehurst, the Web and the University Forest Apartments, per the personal project of junior and RCSGA senator Aamy Bakry.
Gilmore said that his ideas were not only beneficial for students but also not as lofty as they appeared.
“These are pretty simple things that are achievable because, in other schools, we see that they're achievable,” he said.
Another issue Gilmore said he was ready to address was bridging the growing gap between RCSGA and the Westhampton College Government Association.
“Coming back from abroad and learning that our joint meetings were no longer a thing was pretty sad to me because I know that’s a staple of student government for as long as I’d been in it,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore said he has already met with incoming WCGA president, junior Lauren Oligino, for preliminary discussions about how to structure their meetings and joint initiatives.
“If we don’t have that relationship, then we don’t have a functioning student government on campus,” he said. “So absolutely, that’s top priority.”
Within the broader campus community, there was also a lack of unity that Gilmore said he’s hoping to mend.
“I mean, it’s typical in every college and also just human nature to find your group and limit yourself to that, but I feel it’s particularly prevalent on this campus,” he said.
Gilmore found celebrating together an effective way to foster campus unity, one of his campaign promises, he said.
“As president, I certainly don’t intend to and I’m not going to disappear,” Gilmore said. “So when we have a milestone, I think it would do a lot for campus unity to go around promoting it and celebrating it together.”
When asked how he feels about what was to come, Gilmore said he was hopeful, excited and grateful, and looked forward to being a resource for students and helping to make life on campus the best that it could be.
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