Front & Centre: Finch eager to serve as SGA president

by Centre College News

Centre College News
Hailey Finch eager to serve as SGA president

Rising senior Hailey Finch will soon take the reins as Centre College’s Student Government Association (SGA) president for the 2023-24 academic year. A Grissom Scholar and Centre Ambassador, among other campus involvement, Finch is no stranger to holding leadership positions at Centre —which have paved the way to her upcoming role at the SGA helm. Finch recently shared with us what inspired her to pursue the SGA presidency, as well as some insight to her plans and goals for the organization in the coming year. 

Hailey Finch
Student Government Association, president (2023-24)

Major: History & English
Hometown: Georgetown, Kentucky
Campus involvement: Greek Life, Centre Ambassadors, Student Judiciary, the Grissom Scholars Program, and SGA
Post-graduation: Become a high school teacher, work for a social impact organization, or pursue a Ph.D. in history

What is one thing you want people to know about you as the incoming SGA President?
I don’t have all the answers. There are a lot of lived experiences of people that I cannot — and will not — speak for. What I can commit to is listening, advocating and continuing to serve as a bridge between administration and the student body. Everyone involved with SGA is there because they want to be a resource, and they want to make change happen. If there is something you need from Centre that you aren’t getting, let us help you put the work in motion. In the coming year, I hope to see a stronger and more dynamic connection between SGA and the student body it exists to serve.

What motivated you to seek this leadership role on campus? 
I never thought this would ever be a title I would hold. Working on SGA projects and legislation as Chair of Campus Improvements last year really ignited a fire in me to keep this work going, and opened my eyes to the variety of experiences that exist at Centre outside of my own. Along with that, I have a deep admiration for both of the strong and brilliant women who held this position before me (Sarah Ali ’22 and Imani Smith ’23), which had a large impact in my wanting to continue their momentum.

How do you feel your Centre experience thus far has prepared you for this leadership position?
There is no place like Centre! I truly wouldn’t have ever considered this leadership position if I didn’t have so much love for this school. It has its flaws, as does anything; but at the end of the day, it has a community that exists to uplift one another and learn from each other in equal measure. I have never experienced this level of support anywhere else in my life, both from peers and from faculty and staff. While the love I have for Centre is powerful, the fact that I know it is a place I can undoubtedly find a shoulder to lean on is what I am most grateful for (especially as I learn the ropes of a new position).

Can you speak to your Grissom Scholar experience and how being a first-generation student has impacted your voice as a leader on campus?
I owe every part of my Centre experience to Grissom. Without it, the likelihood that I would have been able to attend college is slim to none. Being a Grissom Scholar has given me the resources to make higher education less daunting and more accessible and provided me with an expansive network of people who understand what it means to be a first-generation student. It has also shown me the impact of learning from the stories of others and what it really means to have a seat at the table, which directly informs the work I do with SGA. I’m grateful I get to be a part of making Centre the inclusive and accessible place that has been needed by me and so many of my peers.

What are your specific goals and priorities for the campus community in the coming year as SGA President?
So many! There are some projects that SGA has set out to continue, such as the on-campus sustainability closet, the Student Senate Free Book Project, and some other loaning library-style projects that didn’t hit the floor last semester. I would say a few of my biggest priorities on campus are safety, accessibility, mental health and sustainability. I aim to meet with student leadership, specifically those in affinity-based student organizations, on a regular basis to bridge the gap between groups on campus and SGA. 

Before I graduate, there are a couple of things I really hope to see: more gender-neutral bathrooms, a composting system in dorms and Cowan, more town halls for students and administration, greater priority of ADA accessibility in building renovations, and standardizing mental health days as excused absences. Overall, I am optimistic that this year — two years out of strict COVID lockdown — campus engagement will increase and lead to much more collaboration. There is a lot to be done, but fortunately I have a wonderful team beside me with a strong vision of how they see a brighter future for Centre.

Interviews are edited for length and clarity.