Students eagerly awaited the results of the late spring election which announced second-year Steven Keshishian as New College Student Alliance (NCSA) president for the 2019-2020 school year. A total of 265 votes were cast in the preference-ranked online voting system, with Keshishian securing the school presidency for his second term with 128 votes against second-year and write-in candidate Joseph Daniels’ 112 votes in a run-off election. Run-off voting occurs if a candidate does not receive more than half the votes for the first-choice preference, and eliminates the least-voted for candidate and subsequently redistributes these votes among the remaining candidates based on the ballot’s preference. Run-off voting occurs until a candidate receives more than half the votes. Keshishian did receive the majority votes for the first-choice president with 118 votes compared to Daniels’ 109 votes and first-year Izaya Myles’ 28 votes. Along with serving as the NCSA Co-president for the 2018-2019 school year, Keshishian is also a board member for Florida Student Association and recently has been nominated to run as the external vice president, which is a position that will allow the NCSA to start lobbying in Tallahassee for all of the students in Florida. Resuming his position as the school’s president, Keshishian shared his excitement and intent to help the school and students thrive in spite of the hostility and frustration that erupted among the student body during this election process.
“I’m really excited about being a second-term president,” Keshishian said. “I can continue doing the work I’ve always been wanting to do, and hopefully finish the initiatives [the NCSA] has started. I’m also excited about growing next year as a school—in size and in solidarity, which is more important. It hasn’t been the smoothest week when it comes to New College [in terms of] the way we respond to each other. One thing I was concerned about—and why I didn’t respond to the Forum emails, I didn’t want to be a part of that fight—is the dehumanization of the NCSA. We’re eight people you can talk to—let’s not have this online back-and-forth of putting other people down. We have office hours, and we’re students; please come talk to us.”
Keshishian also noted his intentions to broaden student government interactions with students.
“I’m excited to see new faces,” Keshishian said. “I’m excited to see old faces, I’m excited to see friendly faces, and people that may have not voted for me or supported me. I’m excited about hearing their opinions and working with them, too. This is not politics—this is student government. This is a boat we’re all in, and the boat’s swaying back and forth, but we’re going to keep it on track.”
The uncertain state of affairs at the school regarding financial security prompted Keshishian to continue his involvement in student government.
“I decided to run again because I didn’t want to leave the NCSA in a position where I felt I would be handing off something worse,” Keshishian said. “I wanted to stick with the job, be able to transition next year strong and continue working on certain aspects, like working on finding new avenues for funding for different departments. The connections are there, and I feel we can grow on them and turn them into something stable so when I do give off the NCSA it’ll be in a good state. We weren’t expecting to be in a financial crisis this year and having to restructure the NCSA and focus more on the funding. We weren’t dealt the best card, but we made it through: it’s the end of the year and we’re still here.”
Reflecting on the past year and his presidency, Keshishian noted how he’ll miss his cabinet members, which consists of many thesis students, along with the current NCSA Co-president Selena Goods who is dedicating her time to her thesis next year.
“I look at this year, and I think it’s a good year,” Keshishian said. “I did the best job I can and the people around me did an amazing job. It was a hard year, but the opposition made all of us stronger. We were challenged, and I think every member of the cabinet took charge in a way that impressed me.”
With regards to student government next year, Keshishian has concrete intentions for what actions the NSCA will take to interact more with the student body.
“Next year there are going to be more systemic changes to the way we function when it comes to transparency,” Keshishian shared. “There have been a few issues concerning minutes and the issue is being addressed. We tried to get transcription this year, word-by-word verbatim, and it didn’t work for us, but we tried because we wanted the NCSA to be transparent. Still, we’re going to work on mediums to make it more transparent, whether it be having video along with audio in cabinet meetings or having summaries.”
Keshishian hopes to expand student news and platforms for discussion away from the online Forum and to something intimate and thoughtfully-presented, potentially with the Catalyst.
“One thing I was really looking into is a newsletter that my VPSL recommended for once a month, and hopefully being able to put that on NovoConnect and on the Catalyst and having more direct press contact,” Keshishian said. “We can only shoot out so many emails, and our reach is only so far. I want to end with saying [the NCSA is] not administration: we’re a body presenting ya’ll. We don’t get paid nearly as much as administration; our allegiance is to the students and to the work we believe we can accomplish.”
Keshishian noted the difficulty of being on the NCSA, but said it is worth it to him.
“Every member of the cabinet has office hours that you can come into, we have appointments you can make, we can come to you if there’s a mobility issue coming to our office,” Keshishian said. “Just contact us directly, communicate with us, join the NCSA, apply to the cabinet next year. At the end of the day, I want to say that everyone in the NCSA is a student: we have classes, we have part-time jobs outside the NCSA. It’s a very demanding job, definitely worth it, and I’m happy to be here; if I weren’t happy I wouldn’t have run again.”