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The importance of feedback: Karine Kanj’s quest for SGA presidency

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The importance of feedback: Karine Kanj’s quest for SGA presidency

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Karine Kanj, Class of 2021, is the current Student Affairs Committee Chair for Suffolk’s Student Government Association (SGA), and serves on the Constitutional Review Board as well as the Student Judiciary Review Board (SJRB). Previously, Kanj worked as a Class of 2021 senator, Finance Committee Chair, and was on the Housing and Facilities committee and SGA awards committee.

“I know how to adapt to different cultures and different perspectives and different ideas, I know how to make that work,” said Kanj in an interview with The Journal on bringing diversity to the forefront of SGA.

Kanj, a government major with a concentration in law and public policy, wants to start a scholarship for the education of a refugee child. It would be funded by donations from around the world, according to her Facebook page. She said this could change the image that Suffolk students may have of SGA, as well as generate more perspectives from international students on Suffolk’s current state of affairs.

The scholarship was inspired by the personal experiences of Kanj herself.

“I got the chance to visit the resettlements in Lebanon; I met like 60 people from 20 different families, it was wild,” said Kanj about her experience. “When you are there physically, it’s a whole different type of feel. I was in shock, I felt really ungrateful for the things I have which was a reality check for me.”

Kanj has made this experience a main pillar of her campaign in order to bring awareness to these issues not only through the scholarship, but also by celebrating the diversity that international students bring to Suffolk.

“We flaunt and advertise our diversity and our culture and all the unique things they bring to our campus, so I thought maybe we could step out of our shells and comfort zone a little bit and give back to their communities,” said Kanj in an interview with The Journal.

Kanj said her campaign revolves largely around increasing communication between student government and students.

“How can I make your experience better? I would be very hurt if someone came up to me and said ‘I absolutely despise Suffolk and I would do anything to get out of here now’,” said Kanj in an interview with The Journal.

In order to begin the process of making Suffolk a better place for students, Kanj has created an anonymous google document where students can go online and speak about issues they feel are important to the community. She also looks to add office hours as president so students can have a specific time to sit down with her and discuss the ideas they have for improving Suffolk.

“I could stand here all day and think about the changes that need to happen on campus, but I can only do so much. Student feedback is one of my biggest things right now. I want to keep this consistent throughout the year,” said Kanj in her stump speech at last week’s Suffolk Democrats meeting.

Kanj also added that her experience on the Student Affairs committee has connected various departments with the rest of the Suffolk community.

“I love being able to fit into the different committees and discover more about the association and more about campus,” said Kanj in an interview with The Journal. “This year, we worked on athletics and sporting events to build that bridge of connection between SGA and athletics.”

However, during her time in SGA, Kanj has faced many challenges. Last year, Kanj ran for SGA e-board with three other members as a united team known as “GRIT.”

GRIT was made up of Logan Trupiano, Hope Burnside, Connor Peterson and Kanj. The team’s pursuit ended when SJRB ruled that GRIT broke election rules.

During the election, Burnside handed out lollipops to voters in potential polling areas while giving a speech about GRIT. Candidates and their supporters cannot hand out novelties or “impede the progress of persons who wish to walk through the polling area,” according to rule one of the Executive Board Nominations Packet.

SJRB ruled that because GRIT ran as a team, and it was determined that the other members of GRIT knew about the distribution of the lollipops and failed to report the violation, every member of the team was disqualified.

When asked about this experience, Kanj said running with GRIT not only affected the team, but also everyone involved with SGA.

“I think what happened last year really put things into perspective for everyone else. Honestly, it was kind of interesting to take a few steps back and watch what was happening,” said Kanj in an interview with The Journal. “It just shows that in the real world, people are going to interpret things a different way, so you have to be clear and concise with what you mean and with what you are intending to put out there.”

Although most of the members who were a part of GRIT have since dropped out of SGA, Kanj emphasised that she was not going to let the negative experience affect her  involvement in the organization.

“There was a lot of negativity to come out of that. A lot of people dropped their positions and walked away from SGA. But I didn’t,” said Kanj in an interview with The Journal. “I love doing what I do and I love being a senator and I always wanted to do it and be a part of student government. I didn’t want to let that affect me, I just wanted to move on from it.”

Kanj told The Journal that she does not feel she did anything wrong, despite all four members of GRIT being disqualified.

“I learned how to put things in perspective and learn both sides of a story rather than just one side,” said Kanj. “[GRIT’s disqualification] is not going to hurt me because I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong.”

Kanj is running against Yasir Batalvi, a current senator for the Class of 2020 who served as SGA vice president last year before resigning in February, 2018. In their ruling about GRIT, SJRB said Batalvi had “served a role similar to GRIT’s campaign manager.” Batalvi, however, denied being involved with GRIT in an interview with The Journal.

“I have no comment on his involvement as I wasn’t really involved with his involvement,” said Kanj when asked about Batalvi’s participation in GRIT’s campaign.

Kanj hopes to focus on the future of Suffolk by creating an enhanced dialogue between student government and Suffolk students.

“I could list a million things we need to change at Suffolk, but I don’t want to be a person to state all these things and write all these things and have them fall through in the end, whatever that may be,” said Kanj.

 

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About the Writer
Kaitlin Hahn, News Editor

Kaitlin Hahn is the News Editor for the Suffolk Journal. She is a print journalism major and an English minor from Southern California. Kaitlin is also...

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The importance of feedback: Karine Kanj’s quest for SGA presidency