The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
May 23, 2024
Advertisement
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Advertisement
A fighter jet squadron flies over during the National Anthem before Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Bryan-College Station Regional participants announced
Ian Curtis, Sports Writer • May 27, 2024

For the second time in three seasons, No. 3 national seed Texas A&M baseball will host the Bryan-College Station Regional, where it’ll...

Advertisement
Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
Advertisement
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Gold anticipates successful tenure

At 9:30 p.m. Thursday, he met his team in front of Koldus and together they walked to Academic Plaza. In the throng of nerves and jitters were his immediate family and a good friend who flew in from Alabama to support him. He realized that if he lost, it was going to be a tough blow.
Upon arriving at Academic Plaza he approached his runoff opponent, Ryan Rieger, and exchanged friendly words, pledging to be happy for whomever won, and a hug before returning to his group of supporters.
Before the results were read, Rieger approached him and asked if he would stand with him in front of the podium as they awaited the results. Though caught a little off-guard, he felt excited to share in this moment with his runoff opponent.
Someone in his family called his uncle in California to hear the results by cell phone as the acting election commissioner, Ashlie Sears, prepared to make the announcement: “The winner, with 5,986 votes and 75.31 percent, is Mark Gold.”
“When they announced it, I’ve never had that many emotions rush me at one time,” Gold said. “I was so relieved that it was over, so excited that I had won, so happy that everyone was there and so nervous because I had no clue what it looks like from this point.
“It was unbelievable. Very, very nerve-wrecking, but definitely worth it. I’ll never forget it, I’ll never forget Thursday night.”
This is the experience of Texas A&M’s incoming Student Body President Mark Gold. A junior biomedical science major, he shoulders the weight of responsibility of representing a campus of 45,000 students who come from dozens of countries, possess myriad convictions and all bear the Aggie name.
Though elected by a three-quarters majority in runoff elections, Gold still waits for his confirmation as SBP. He begins April 21.
Gold said that it hadn’t originally been his ambition to run for SBP. In fact, between October and November, he was willing to support and campaign for two other students involved in the Student Government Association who he expected to run for the position. To his surprise, they encouraged him to run instead.
“I started thinking about it, and I battled for weeks, constantly,” he said. “Like, ‘Yeah, you can do it. You’ve got a great team around you. You’ve got a great support. Your vision is right.’ Then I’d bounce back to: ‘No, I’ve never even been on an [executive] council. No experience. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know the names, I don’t know the dates.’ And so it was literally this game for weeks.”
During this back-and-forth, Gold asked for his father’s advice. He sat down with his father and laid out the options. After listening to his son, Gold’s father gave the most profound advice that encouraged him to run. “He said something I’ll never forget,” Gold said. “He said, ‘Mark, the experience, and the dates, and the names – can all be learned. But it’s the heart of what you’re doing that can’t be taught.’ And that’s all I really needed to hear because I knew my heart was in the right place, and I knew I was doing it for the right reason.”
After six months, more than 50 volunteers inside 10 golden blob costumes, a $1,100 war chest and one strong imperative slogan to “Mark Gold,” the incoming SBP has to weigh out anticipated challenges and strengths for the upcoming year. Gold said he is confident about the relationship between A&M and College Station officials and himself.
“It’s something I’ve heard a lot about, that Student Body President is just a figurehead and sort-of a puppet that the administration uses to help the students feel better, but I honestly believe that every faculty member that I’ve met with, from dining services all the way up to Dr. Murano, is very, very student-oriented,” he said. “First thing that I know is that the mayor and this council, and this city, respect us as students a lot. We make up 49 percent of this city’s population. That alone allows us to be respected.”
He brought up the recently defeated proposition from the city council, most often referred to as the Housing Ordinance, as an example of when College Station’s government acknowledged students and the SGA stood up for student rights.
“They [the city officials] want to do what is best for the community, and when almost 50 percent of the community says, ‘We don’t like something,’ they’re going to listen,” he said. “So, I think we have a good relationship with them.”
Regarding policy agenda pertaining to A&M’s campus, Gold said one of his first priorities would be to build an executive council team. He will spend the summer in College Station acclimating himself and said team to the responsibilities of the council.
He acknowledged that trying to get personalities to gel together and work as a team will be one of the biggest challenges he will face before he can take on other tasks. Gold said it is important for him to be visible and use his time efficiently. Though he said he wants his office to be fun and welcoming, he does not want to be trapped inside Koldus.
Another challenge he will face is inspiring students who are apathetic or cynical in their attitude toward SGA to get involved and share their opinions. He said his hopes are to complete smaller projects with tangible results to convince those wary of SGA that the organization can make effective policy moves and produce visible outcomes. If they believe SGA can make a significant impact, then they will participate with the organization more.
For circumstances in which the student voice diverges from his own, Gold is committed to setting aside his personal policy agenda and representing the majority voice of the campus to the best of his abilities. Gold said he will strive to find an intermediate point that will most satisfy groups within conflict through compromise.
Though Gold has yet to be confirmed as SBP, critics of his platform have already forecast doom on the horizon for A&M under his office. Expectations that he will be a repeat of former SBP Nic Taunton, who gained a reputation for ineffective leadership, disappointment at his lack of experience and dismay that his campaign platform was authored by his campaign manager Brady Black, are some of the criticisms that he has yet been able to respond to.
In response to the pejorative “Nic 2.0” slurs against him, implying that he will not stand up for student rights when they are threatened by A&M administration or College Station officials, Gold offered a reframing of the situation: “There may be perception that it is the students versus the faculty in a lot of ways, and for 99 percent of the people that I have met, that is not the case at all.
“Bending over backwards for the faculty probably means that we’re bending over backwards to get what students want done. Most of the initiatives that the faculty want to see done are things in place to help students, and [things] the students have expressed a desire for.
“[If it happens to be faculty or city officials versus students, then] that’s why I think it’s so important that they [students] have to trust me. [If student opinion is different than mine], you have to trust me that I’m going to say, ‘No, we don’t want that’ [and accurately represent the students] when I go speak to the faculty and administration.”
Gold agreed with his critics that he is inexperienced, but defended himself by saying that no amount of experience could prepare a candidate for the SBP office. Referencing conversations he has had with former SBPs, Gold said, “Ninety percent roughly of what I’m going to be doing next year is going to be reactionary.”
He pointed out that the Memorial Student Center referendum, which sought to increase student fees by $60 for reconstruction of the MSC, could not have been foreseen by exiting SBP Conner Prochaska, and so could not have been on his campaign platform. Because of these proverbial curveballs, any SBP would have to set aside the policy agenda he or she set out to accomplish to focus on mobilizing students to vote on such referendums.
He denied that Black, his campaign manager, wrote his platform, but said he was a resource for consultation. Gold explained that during his research into possible platform planks, he met with student and A&M leaders who provided him with ideas he chose to incorporate into his platform. He also introduced ideas to these leaders and asked them whether his ideas would be feasible.
“Was every idea on my platform my ingenious thing? No, not at all. And I think it would have been [foolish] for a Student Body President to not talk to those people that know what’s going on, and ask them, ‘Hey, what can I do to help finish certain projects that are in play, or is it feasible for this new project that I had thought up to be done? Is that possible?’ ”
Though he said such criticisms from people who have not met him sell him short, Gold’s attitude toward these critics is that they will keep him accountable as SBP. Because he wants to hear from students who do not agree with his policy initiatives if they have further insight or better alternatives, he gave The Battalion permission to publish his e-mail addresses. His official e-mail address, effective April 21, will be [email protected], and his personal e-mail address is [email protected].
For the upcoming year, Gold said he believes there are two things that will make an effective SBP: trust and teamwork. “The first thing is that the Student Body President has to be trusted. I think that’s where the heart comes in, is that the Student Body President has to understand why he or she is doing what they’re doing. It is to represent and to serve a student body that we believe in. That’s why I ran.
“The second thing to understand is that I, by myself, am absolutely worthless. If it was just me, then we would get nothing done, and it would probably be the worst year in A&M history if I don’t have the faculty’s respect, the administrators’ respect, a team around me that respects and that trusts me and if I don’t use that team to do what they do best. I’m only as good as my team is going to be.
“The legacy I want to leave is that I want student leaders, I want students, I want faculty to understand that it starts with the heart. The reason why you’re doing what you’re doing has to be right. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, then programs, the activities and all that falls. It doesn’t matter if you’re not doing it for the right reasons.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *