Senator Naomi Bolden will transition from the legislative branch to the executive branch to be Student Association President for the 51st session and has plans to make the SA a more welcoming environment for students.
After a special election held April 5, Bolden, who is a junior political science major, was elected SA president with 137 votes. Bolden was the only candidate to run for the position.
Bolden said her initial plan was to run in the regular elections but there was a discrepancy with the Board of Elections about a signature on her application. A signature ruled as invalid which put her below the 300 minimum signature requirement. She then ended up with 299 and was considered ineligible to run in the first election.
“We did file an appeal with the Supreme Court; unfortunately, things did not play out in [the] favor that I would have liked,” Bolden said.
Bolden said she ran for president because she feels there is a need for change on campus. She said she has the ideas, the initiative and the passion to lead the campus.
“Going from senator to president has been a big change,” Bolden said. “The responsibility is bigger, but I feel as though it’s important to have a leader that is doing it for the right reasons — to have someone there that actually cares about the students, about their needs and about doing things for them.”
Bolden appointed Antonio Johnson as her Chief of Staff. Johnson was elected to the position by the Senate at the April 14 meeting. Bolden said Johnson and herself want to make it a priority to hold a State of the Student Association Address each semester.
“The addresses have been done in the past, but I feel like this is an opportunity to extend ourselves outside of our office hours,” Bolden said. “This is our opportunity to have students bring any questions up to us so we can be really raw with them and let them know what's going on.”
Bolden said handling situations within the SA behind closed doors is not the best route to go because it makes it look like there’s something to hide. In order to gain the student body’s trust, she has to be willing to be exposed and hear the students opinions, she said.
Bolden said she wants to make it a priority that both branches are being held accountable. She said she doesn’t think it is the best idea to have only the executive branch submitting reports.
“I want to make sure there is a checks and balances system for both executive and legislative members,” Bolden said. “How are we holding the Senate accountable if there is not a check and balance system for them as well? We want to initiate transparency for both branches.”
Bolden also said she wants to strengthen the SA relationship among student organizations on campus. She said by having more organizations come to more SA sponsored events the relationship will grow.
“I want more student organizations to view SA as a resource; I feel like most organizations don't really have a relationship with us,” she said. “I want them to be able to see us as more than just the student government who can give you funding.”
Due to the success of her SA sponsored Project Orange, Bolden plans to hold similar events for student organizations to come together.
Bolden said since being elected president, she’s been in the process of appointing directors and putting together a cabinet for next semester. She said she plans to have meetings with Speaker of the Senate-elect Ian Pearson and Vice President-elect Kevin Schaeffer to have a successful semester as an association.
Bolden will be sworn into office May 3 for the 51st session but won’t officially take office until May 15.
“At the end of the day, NIU is for you,” Bolden said. “I really do plan to make the university for the students because [NIU] would not be here without a student body; we would not be here without our tuition dollars and our fees that go into this university, so the students deserve to have a voice.”