By Leigh Barber
With the Late-Fall New College Student Alliance (NCSA) elections finished, second-year Carlos Santos has emerged as the NCSA’s newest president. With a total of 360 ballots cast, Santos secured 178 of the votes, receiving more than half of the first-choice ballots cast, locking him in as the absolute majority in the first-round, therefore eliminating the need for further vote counting. After his victory, he agreed to sit down with the Catalyst to address his goals and plans for this next year.
Santos emphasized that his main focus as president is to make New College an inclusive and safe campus for all identities and cultures. “I ran on many things, but the one thing that I wanted to do is increase the sense of community at New College,” Santos said. “We need to take a proactive step in doing that.”
One of the ways he plans to implement a sense of community is to make the NCSA a more prominent group on campus. “The NCSA is more than just responsible for just maintaining the responsibilities in the Great Book,” Santos said. “This year I want us to get out there and help the community in any capacity.”
With a presidential win, comes the task of choosing cabinet members. This year, there was a record-breaking 34 applications submitted for cabinet positions. Of those 34, there were seven applications for a brand new spot in the cabinet: the position of diversity and inclusion. Santos is in the process of creating a committee with several Council of Student Affairs (CSA) members under that cabinet position.
“I want it to be a very active committee because it’s going to be a lot about making the campus safe and inclusive for everyone,” Santos said. “It’s something that hits home for many students here, a lot of people care about it.”
Santos wants this committee to have an open membership with RAs and clubs that can help direct the program to carry out helpful programs such as gender inclusive housing.
Next on his list is the Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC). “The CWC is a huge thing for me,” Santos said. “I got involved in New College politics because of the CWC’s finances. When I heard they were closing the psychiatry unit, I was worried because I know that a large amount of students use the psychiatric services on campus.”
He did all he could to help with budgeting and funding, but this year students have to pay copays and it is making it difficult for students to get the help they need. While the health fee is still the lowest in the state, Santos wants to keep the financial problems of the CWC a priority. Extending ideas for student health care even further, there have been talks with Sarasota Memorial Hospital to create a basic insurance package at a very low cost for students. Sarasota Memorial expressed interest in it, but some complications occurred last year that have kept this project from advancing. This year, Santos is focusing on developing a detailed plan between New College and the hospital that includes drawing up a contract between the two parties, most likely having the school pay them money so students would not have to pay a copay. ”A lot of our students aren’t insured, so if they get hurt, they shouldn’t have to worry about going to the hospital and getting basic care,” Santos said. “It’s a big task, but it’s definitely possible.”
Besides the CWC and student insurance package, there is a myriad of other projects planned that will benefit the campus community and beyond. Santos and the rest of the NCSA work hard to make sure the voices of students are heard at the state level. Santos recently attended the Florida Student Association (FSA) meeting in Gainesville, FL. The meetings are difficult for New College because of the overwhelming presence of enormous state schools. “We’re definitely not heard because the big schools’ focus is just so much different than ours,” Santos said. “We have to align our needs with the bigger schools. That’s why the Affirmative Consent Bill is good because we can tell the other presidents that it’s not just about New College, it applies to all schools.”
Santos is hoping to gain the support of other Florida schools for the Affirmative Consent Bill during the next FSA meeting in January.
“I’m planning on calling every president and talking to them about the bill and asking them why they are or are not supporting the bill,” Santos said. “I want to know what they need from it so that when it comes to the table again in January, there won’t be any confusion.”
Finding funding is an important part of leading and organizing a school. Santos wants to increase funding for Resident Advisors (RAs), Title IX and other on-campus projects such as a book voucher program and the installation of a farmers market on campus. This farmers market would incorporate the surrounding Sarasota community. Vendors would come to campus and instead of the vendors paying a vendor’s fee, Santos proposed that they give 10 percent of their profits to the school. “We can work with Sarasota community coordinators to make it a community-wide event,” Santos said. “We can also partner with Ringling College so that students can sell their artwork at the market.”
With health and safety at the forefront of his mission, Santos is ready to make New College a better community than ever before.
“We need to make sure students feel safe here,” Santos said. “I care about this community,” Santos said. “It’s a cliché thing to say, but it’s true.”