SBP candidates emphasize community, communication, practicality in their visions


Financial District, NEW YORK—Emily Collins, Pete Flemming and AJ Aran were announced Feb. 18 as the student body presidential candidates for the 2013-2014 academic year, agreeing on the importance of community building, good communication and practical steps in their leadership plans. “Because it’s a growing organization, King’s needs someone who wants to be a builder, a uniter, a coalescer. The [SBP] has to be a very good communicator,” interim-President Andy Mills said.

AJ announced his candidacy in Cafe 6 Feb. 14. Photo by Celina Durgin.

All three candidates noted the various difficulties of the 2012-2013 year, including Hurricane Sandy, the move to the Financial District and the loss of both president and provost. They want to emerge from the rough patch by forming definite plans for improving on-campus community and spiritual life and generally fortifying “what makes King’s great.”

Flemming, president of the House of Bonhoeffer, identified three things he believes are central to King’s: academics, spiritual life and the House system. He said his leadership in the Student Life Project, his House, sports and the Financial Services Club has shown him the importance of “keeping those things at the core of what we’re doing.”

Collins agrees that the Houses are a “catalyst for community,” adding that, with the campus change, upperclassmen seemed to lose sight of how to welcome the freshmen into school and maintain the identity of King’s.

Aran said the answer lies in “uniting the student body through cultivating the culture of honor,” for which he likewise looks to the Houses. Improved intra- and inter-House communication can aid the upperclassmen in being better mentors and role models, he said.

As QE1 helmsman, Heather Cate desires for the SBP to have a practical vision for the community. “A lot of the freshmen have been dissatisfied with the spiritual life, because the exec teams can’t do it on their own,” she said, adding that the SBP should revitalize the House system by instituting campus ministry and encouraging the Student Council to aid the Houses. “The Houses are integral—it would be great if they had more support from the Council,” she said.

President Mills emphasized the need for an entrepreneurial and practical candidate: “someone who has energy and creativity, someone who has instincts about how to do things with what we’ve got.”

The new SBP will represent the student body to the new school president. Photo by Celina Durgin.

Flemming has enjoyed the hands-on, administrative tasks as Bonhoeffer president. “Rather than being an especially visionary person, I like to have my hands in many different things and want to guide conversations within Council," he said

Collins said her experience with Bible studies, SLP and The Tent equips her to further her foremost concern: “The main thing that I look for is spiritual life—that’s what I focus on in our community.” She added, however, “I definitely want to be looking at the school as a whole,” which includes encouraging positivity and entrepreneurship rather than negativity and criticism.

Aran said that as SBP, he would act as a liaison, bringing student concerns to the administration and updates from the administration to the students. He also plans to ask Michele DeKonty for more career and internship opportunities, more guest speakers and more museum trips.

Although the administration can help students, he said, students should “focus on what we can do rather than administrative decisions. We have no idea how hard they work for us.”

After giving himself an "F" for his job as director of student organizations last semester, he attributed his failure to extenuating circumstances in his personal life that were beyond his control. "Those who truly know me know that last semester completely did not reflect who I am," he said, accounting for his lack of interaction with org presidents. "You can ask any president now if I have done a significantly better job this semester, and they all can vouch for me."

The candidates foresee the challenges of scheduling their lives around meetings and numerous responsibilities. Collins expressed the candidates' shared sentiment when she said that an aspect of the SBP race will be "remembering why we love King's."

The Tribune will publish the candidates’ official platforms upon receipt.