An Inside View: BSG Co-President Nayomi Neelangal
The Round Table sat down with one of the current Co-Presidents of Beloit Student Government (BSG), Nayomi Neelangal’22. Neelangal’s year-long term is coming to an end, as the election for the next BSG president closes at midnight, Tuesday night. The new presidents will take over in January. With only a few months left in the position, Neelangal spoke about her role as co-president of BSG.
Neelangal was elected to the position last year, alongside Deepakshi Bhardwaj’22. It was the first semester back since the pandemic, and after being previously involved with BSG as the Director of Communications, Neelangal saw students struggling with the shift of coming back to campus. She felt that she could “help transition students from a pre-covid time to post-covid time.”
This goal later translated into the campus wide “Worth a Shot” campaign, which according to Neelangal was a highlight of her time as co-president. She said how initially, campus had a low vaccination rate, about “55% to 60%”, but after the campaign the rate is “95%, about.”
“On behalf of the student body, it’s a great thing,” said Neelangal. It was a school wide effort that took everyone getting involved in ensuring the community is safe and healthy.
This was an especially big accomplishment as after Covid, student engagement on campus greatly declined. The pandemic “completely brought a new wave to the student body” in the sense that everyone was dealing not only with the stresses of college, but also everything outside of that like family and jobs. To boost engagement on campus, BSG reached out to clubs and groups on campus and upped their social media activity, where “people felt comfortable interacting with BSG.” They hosted town halls, held office hours, sent out Google Forms, and had forums to try to get people involved.
This communication and engagement was something Neelangal mentioned a few times, and something she was well versed in as the moderator for Sustained Dialogue. The program “encourages healthy dialogue, enables healthy learning” as well as provides a safe space to have conversations about issues in a positive manner. Neelangal brings her role as moderator into her presidency by having discussions with students to understand the issues on campus.
BSG’s role on campus is to articulate what students are thinking and feeling and what they want, and be the liaison to administration. According to Neelangal, it’s “never admin to students” but the other way around. As co-president, she helps with bringing up issues from students to administration, and this happens by listening and understanding student concerns. Neelangal cites being attentive, informed, and unbiased, as well as having an open eye and ear and welcoming constructive criticism as ways she can be there for students.
“It is what you make of it.” This is a phrase that drives Neelangal, and has influenced her time at Beloit. Coming to college was her first time in America, but Beloit has become a home for her. “I found ways to find comfort at Beloit,” she said, and has truly made her own experience here. She also feels “genuinely connected” to campus, and puts everything she can into improving it. During her campaign she wanted people to understand how serious she was about the position.
This is what she wants for future presidents as well. She wants those running to be “passionate about the reason that drives them to be a part of BSG.”
She also mentioned some unexpected aspects of being co-president. She had been a carpenter, painter, and technician during an event for the “Worth a Shot” campaign. She had to create a giant canvas for vaccinated students to squirt with paint filled water guns. She noted the humor of it as she recalled being covered in paint on the floor, trying to get everything together for the event. Her efforts helped to create the backdrop for a painted collage, the outcome of student after student spraying designs onto the canvas. It symbolised the community coming together to create a safe and healthy campus.
This concept is also mirrored in the Statement of Culture and Behavioral Expectations on campus, a project that BSG worked on last year. Student ideas were taken into account and represented in the document, rather than it being something handed down from administration. It is a “unique part about Beloit,” said Neelangal.