Glasses clinked and silverware scraped china as administrators and student leaders gathered to ring in a new year of Student Government Association leadership under its newly inaugurated president and vice president, Charles Haston and Erica Tat.
“Getting elected is the easy part; governing is definitely the hard part. And I hope that over the next year that this team that we put together will continue to stay together,” Haston said. “We must put the students first and change this University and leave our mark here.”
SGA members new and old gathered Friday night in the University Center Ballroom to mark a turning point in the organization’s history, the end of half a century of student governments at the University and the ushering in of a new generation built on that lasting foundation. Before the leaf could be turned, outgoing Vice President Rani Ramchandani urged those remaining in SGA to remember their purpose as student leaders.
“At the end of the day, students are our forefront. Students are our goal. They are the main focus, and Cedric and I lead with the motto ‘service above self,’ because truly that’s what this role entails; that’s the embodiment of the role,” Ramchandani said. “I look forward to Charles, Erica, I look forward to your leadership this coming year. It’ll be a very interesting year.”
Vice Chancellor and Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Richard Walker said he was fortunate to have worked with former SGA president Cedric Bandoh during his two-year tenure and that he looks forward to seeing Haston fill Bandoh’s “big shoes.”
“I think Charles’ philosophy is that he wants us to get better as an institution,” Walker said. “So a lot of this focus is on ‘How do we continue to do the kinds of things that are going to continue to raise the Tier One status of the University?’ ”
Building on the relationships forged by the 50th administration with administrators and other student organizations across campus, Tat said she hopes to increase collaborative efforts and carry on a spirit of service and community outreach.
“Students are who we are representing — we are serving these students,” Tat said. “And when we support each other, when we are able to help each other, that’s how we rise.”
Following in the footsteps of Bandoh was “humbling,” Haston said. To carry on the legacy of the two-time SGA president and his vice president, Haston and the Senate unanimously supported the creation of two legacy awards: the Rani Ramchandani Distinguished Service Award and the Cedric K. Bandoh Distinguished Leadership Award. These two awards will be given each year to those that exemplify these values, and they will be hung in the Senate chambers to remember those who have followed in their footsteps and have stayed true to “service above self.”
Taking off his blazer in preparation of what was next, Haston led the 51st administration of SGA Cougars with a resounding roar: “Coogs’ House.”