Keller reappoints Coons to VP of diversity programming

Student Government Association President-elect Mike Keller appointed UnoBlessed Coons to the vacant SGA vice president of diversity programming position.

Coons currently serves in that role.

Due to SGA rules, there was no eligible candidate for the position. Therefore Keller had to go through SGA assembly to open up the position to applicants.

Keller said there were four “qualified” applicants, but Coons was the best option.

R.E.A.C.H. has many challenges currently, and she has the ability to overcome these challenges,” Keller said.

Coons’ experience and knowledge of the job is why he chose her, Keller said.

“Uno has already had a trial-and-error period,” Keller said.

Due to the resignation of last year’s diversity vice president early in the school year, Coons wasn’t chosen until September.

This shortened her term and left her without a planning period during the summer, Keller said.

The lack of a planning period was the most difficult part of serving this year, Coons said.

“I didn’t want R.E.A.C.H. to do nothing,” Coons said, “so I took the challenge and stepped up.”

Giving Coons a full term to serve will greatly benefit R.E.A.C.H. and her ability to serve, Keller said.

“I would like to see what Uno can do with a full term,” Keller said.

After receiving applications, Keller and R.E.A.C.H. adviser Julie Pakenham interviewed the applicants, Keller said.

Pakenham said she gave Keller the pros and cons of each candidate and asked questions during the interview process.

“I have background information that a new SGA president would not have,” Pakenham said. “I’m here to give Mike tips on issues.”

Following the interview process, Keller said he and Pakenham collaborated and came to a consensus.

“It was ultimately Mike’s decision,” Pakenham said.

Keller said this appointment does not contradict his promise to bring new faces to SGA.

“The vast majority of the executive board is new,” Keller said. “It doesn’t hurt to have some previous experience. There are advantages of having some experience.”

The extended appointment process put R.E.A.C.H. behind schedule, Pakenham said.

“There’s a tight appointment time for SGA as it is, and this made it more difficult for R.E.A.C.H.,” Pakenham said. “There’s still enough time to get things lined up.”

R.E.A.C.H. will make it a priority to increase its prominence on campus, Coons said.

“Diversity is a challenging topic and can make people uncomfortable, but R.E.A.C.H. needs to make sure it is a large part of the student experience,” Coons said.

Keller said he and Coons have discussed the possibility of expanding the R.E.A.C.H. board as a way to strengthen R.E.A.C.H.’s presence.

Coons and Keller each said R.E.A.C.H. needs to be more inclusive.

“There is a special emphasis on marginalized minorities,” Coons said, “but R.E.A.C.H. is not only for them but for all students.” Keller said he agreed.

“We need to try and get a diverse group of members to appeal to a broad group of people,” Keller said.

Coons said she is happy to be serving during the next academic year.

“I’m excited about a lot of things,” Coons said, “summer and planning, finding new ways to celebrate diversity and having more conversations on diversity.”