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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

Abed Abbas ’24 wins SGA presidential election

Abed Abbas ’24 (center) was elected to serve as Student Government Association President beginning next fall, alongside Vice Presidents Fanta Diop ’25 (left) and Tara Masri ’25 (right).
Abed Abbas ’24 (center) was elected to serve as Student Government Association President beginning next fall, alongside Vice Presidents Fanta Diop ’25 (left) and Tara Masri ’25 (right).

The student body voted on Monday, April 24 to elect Abed Abbas ’24 as president of the Student Government Association (SGA), with Fanta Diop ’25 & Tara Masri ’25 joining as his vice presidents. Approximately 44% of students eligible to vote, or 1,111 of 2,520 students, voted in the presidential election. This marks a substantial increase from last year’s election, where only 775 students participated in voting. Abbas received 773 votes and Aniketan Pelletier ’25, the other candidate, received 338 votes.

Abbas is a first-generation college student and a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon. He ran on a platform of enhancing the dining experience on campus, improving the access to financial support and reviving student life in McCullough Student Center.

One of Abbas’s first goals is to address late-night dining options if they are not back to their regular schedules by next fall. “This applies to the Grille, 10 o’clock Ross, and other alternatives to ensure we have sufficient options if things go wrong,”Abbas explained. Abbas also plans to work with Pelletier to develop a plan for financial transparency.

In addition to the SGA presidential election, first years voted on their SGA senators to represent them next year, electing YiJun Kim ’26 and Bryan Harris ’26. Of the first-year class, 51.63% voted in the election. This year had a 31.22% increase in turnout from last year’s first-year election.

Harris is from Los Angeles, Calif. and ran on a platform to increase student access to resources and opportunities, improve the physical and mental health of students on campus, and promote diversity, equity and inclusion. He was elected with 179 votes. This summer, to prepare for being a senator next year, Bryan plans to study the details of different support systems at Middlebury in order to better inform the student body about the resources available to them. He also hopes to learn effective strategies to translate student concerns into real change by talking to past SGA senators and studying recent SGA history.

Kim is from Nevada and was elected with 193 votes. Her platform was focused on improving the access to transportation for those who do not have access to vehicles on campus and to increase SGA transparency and advocacy. One of Kim’s first priorities in the fall will be to choose her sophomore committee members.

“I'm excited to create a group of students who will work closely together to establish a sense of community for sophomores at Midd,” Kim said.

Afra Fairooz ’24 ran unopposed and will serve as a Junior Senator next year. Fairooz ran on a campaign platform of increasing the availability of the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office and its resources for international students and to increase networking opportunities in the fields of finance and consulting for women, people of color, international students and queer people. Once in office, one of Fairooz’s first priorities will be to “start working on a bill to extend the supply of menstrual products in all residential halls and also to create a process for students (who need it) to apply for assistance with menstrual healthcare.”

A special election will be held at the beginning of next year to fill the second Junior Senator vacancy.

The presidential candidates participated in a live debate in Crossroads Cafe on the night before the election, which drew a sizable crowd.

“All candidates know the complexity of the issues we face on campus and they understand that they require deeper understanding and require much more complicated solutions than the ones we usually come up with. I think their experiences will motivate them to tackle the issues we are going through,” Yahya Rahhawi ’26 said.

“Personally, I voted for AK. However, in all the conversations I have heard they are both great candidates and this year more than others, it felt like we would be okay either way,” James Flaumenhaft ’24 said.

Fall 2023 the middlebury will be transformed by the energy of the new elected leaders fighting for more food, transparency, and greater access to resources on campus. In the meantime the current SGA representatives will remain in office till the end of the semester. Applications for SGA committee directors will open at the end of the semester, and all students are encouraged to apply.


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