New SGA senators take office following January special election

Newly elected junior senator, Sarai Mapp. Photo by Addison Robinson.
Newly elected senior senator, Nigel D’Souza. Photo provided by Nigel D’Souza.
Newly elected junior senator, Peri Staples. Photo by Addison Robinson.
Newly elected junior senator, Caylen Johnson. Photo by Addison Robinson.

Four people were elected to serve on the Student Government Association (SGA) in a special election Jan. 24 and 25. Senior Nigel D’Souza and Juniors Sarai Mapp, Caylen Johnson and Peri Staples will hold senatorial seats for the spring 2019 semester.

The special election was held after the departure of Senior Sen. Kristen Duncan and Junior Sens. Grant Denton, Chase Peplin and Vikram Lokasandrum.

Public Relations and Elections Chair Genesis Cooper said the former senators left for “personal reasons.”

Incoming Senior Sen. D’Souza said he ran for one of the open seats because he is interested in “helping every student get involved in campus life, helping the student body engage in service opportunities and (finding) fun ways to increase communication amongst students.”

Caylen Johnson, one of the newly elected juniors, said she will focus on communication and campus safety this semester.

She said she has “a lot of experience with one-on-one roles at Mercer” such as tutoring, serving as a Resident Assistant and holding a position as volunteer coordinator for national health pre-professional society Alpha Epsilon Delta.

“I was initially motivated to run for SGA Junior Senator in the spring of my sophomore year, because I believed that as a member of SGA, I would be able to effect positive change in our Mercer community,” she said.

She said she has engaged in several projects, including “developing relationships with various stakeholders on campus and learning more about the pressing issues in the lives of students.”

These issues include safety, so Johnson said she plans to “(work) with Mercer Police in an effort to improve the effectiveness of our campus-wide security systems.”

In regards to administrative transparency, she said she wants to “serve as a liaison so that SGA can work with staff to cultivate effective communication for housing and maintenance status updates.”

Peri Staples, junior senator, did not respond to The Cluster’s requests for comment.

Junior Sen. Sarai Mapp said she plans to focus on making Mercer a welcoming place for all students.

“In high school, I helped start and was elected by my class to serve on SGA all four years,” she said. “Here at Mercer, we the students should have a voice, and after running my freshman year and not getting elected, I kind of gave up hope in running again.”

She said that the special election this year felt like a second chance.

“I would love to have a hand in fostering an aura of comfortability for all students,” she said. “I think bringing this idea from paper to reality would drastically change the environment of Mercer in a positive way.”

Mapp said that not having a traditional full year to serve on SGA will make the position harder, but will allow her to help prepare for change in the future.

“I consider Mercer students, especially the Junior class, to be my family, and to me, the well-being of my family always comes first,” Mapp said.