SGA President Melvis Ventura // Harlen Cruz

Byline: Owen McCloskey, Editor-In-Chief

On Thursday, August 30th, I sat down with the incumbent student government president, Melvis Ventura. Ventura, is a general education major and proves himself an eloquent advocate for the student body, winning the last student election on a campaign focused on student involvement and registration.

Melvis Ventura is dapper, with a soft-spoken disposition, and he is passionate about the position of SGA president. This became apparent after I asked Melvis why he wanted to run for such a daunting official title.

“When I first came to Bergen, I wasn’t really aware of the importance of really getting involved. So, that’s when I discovered SGA and their role [at] Bergen and how their main focus is to demonstrate the power and legitimacy of a student’s voice,” Melvis said.

To understand how the SGA would advocate for the students at Bergen, I saw it fit to document the functions of SGA and the new electorates.

Ally Moran, the vice president, deals with the student senate: a body that votes on policy proposals drafted by the other members of the SGA.

Marlen Herrera, the new treasurer, will oversee the House of Representatives, which consists of the presidents of each individual club at Bergen. Herrera will also oversee the budget of all Student Life clubs and organizations.

Gabriella Setti is Bergen’s chief justice, a position that entails the championing of students’ rights during civil discourse. She also oversees student conduct.

“Any ticket violations… the chief justice is basically like the lawyer for the student,” Melvis explains.

Finally, Azul Cestan-Heredia, the executive assistant, organizes all the meetings for the SGA and records their conversations so that they remember all the important information discussed in the meeting prior.

With the preliminary questions out of the way, it was time to dive deeper.

I scheduled the interview initially to see if the SGA could provide insight on some of the most fundamental problems with Bergen — low student enrollment being the most glaring one of them all. Bergen’s enrollment count in the fall of 2017 was around 14,000, a sharp decrease from 15,651 students in 2014.

This downward trend causes many problems for BCC, and I was curious to see the new SGA administration’s ideas on solving this problem, among others.

Bergen Community has attempted to remedy the enrollment situation with a new online self-service, but it has yet to be implemented en masse. However, Melvis has confidence that Bergen’s leadership has it under control, citing his utmost faith in President Michael Redmond. “We’re in good hands with Redmond,” Melvis said.

I asked Melvis about the actual problem of student enrollment and if the SGA has any concrete policies to solve the problem. Due to the bureaucratic nature of the SGA, the policies they enact could take a long time because they have to be voted on by the senate. Because of this, Melvis was unsure of what policies could be enacted to solve the registration problem that would arrive in a concise timeframe.

However, Melvis is confident that the SGA can ratify policies that will fix up the registration booth at Bergen and make it more appealing for newer students.

No matter the challenge, it seems that the incoming SGA can think up new solutions to Bergen’s fundamental issues.

Ventura definitely is proud to be a student of BCC, and I believe he genuinely wants to draft policies that will help Bergen keep its status as one of the best community colleges in the United States. However, it is up to the SGA to prove their efficacy as the proponents of Bergen’s student body.