David and Nyla: Your Choice, Your Voice

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COURTESY PHOTO / DAVID DEMARCO

After serving two terms as the Student Assembly class of 2021 president, David DeMarco ’21 is running to be SA president to better represent the concerns of the student body. He believes that the experiences of his running mate Nyla Pollard ’21, a women’s basketball player and a newcomer to SA, can bridge these gaps and ensure greater student representation.

In SA, DeMarco has devoted time to improving the College of William and Mary’s food options, which are currently provided by Sodexo USA. DeMarco has urged the administration to ensure that Sodexo upholds its contract and provides quality food to students. According to surveys conducted by DeMarco and other class presidents, dining is among the student body’s primary concerns.

DeMarco’s work has  improved the Tribe Truck, which opened after spring break and now offers a rotating menu and accepts meal swipes as payment.

Besides dining reform, DeMarco’s favorite alternative project within SA was the ride-sharing program that he organized when the College evacuated in preparation for Hurricane Florence last September. After realizing that he was unsure of his own evacuation plans, he created two forms for students to fill out. The first form asked students if they could provide a ride off campus or a safe place to stay during the evacuation, and the second form asked if students themselves needed a ride or a place to stay. Alongside other members of SA, DeMarco and his peers were able to match over 100 people who needed help evacuating.

“I thought … I’m an out-of-stater, I have no idea how I’m getting home,” DeMarco said.  “… I looked around at all the other students panicking, and I was like, ‘There’s no way anyone else here is in a better spot than I am, at least, most people.’ You don’t need to write a bill to get things done; in fact, I think it’s actually the opposite.”

He noted that student participation in SA is integral to getting things done, citing the time when representatives from the College’s chapter of Students United came and shared their perspectives during the meeting’s public comment segment.

I was happy that these people feel like they’re being heard … that was really powerful.  After that, people kept on coming.

“I was happy that these people feel like they’re being heard … that was really powerful.  After that, people kept on coming,” DeMarco said.

DeMarco was especially moved when tens of students showed up for the public comment about the Higher Standards Resolution, which requested the Board of Visitors call for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s resignation after it was reported that he had used blackface while attending a party during medical school. Although Northam has made no impression of a potential resignation, many bodies, including the College, felt compelled to voice their opinion on the situation.

Outside of SA, DeMarco is also an active member of Fraternity and Sorority Life as a brother of the Virginia Kappa chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He is also the Health and Wellness Vice President of the Interfraternity Council.

In that position, DeMarco oversaw the creation of a new Supporting Survivors program last semester, which requires all fraternities in the IFC to undergo training from a campus health organization such as Health Outreach Peer Educators or Someone You Know in order to remain in the council and avoid citations.

“SA can’t really interact with the Greek community too much, so I think having the voice of two sides there is important,” DeMarco said.

He also participates in theater and music organizations at the College, which he partially does in order to meet diverse groups of students.

When you talk to more students around campus, that’s when you get the local knowledge. You can put out as many surveys as you want … but it’s about talking to people and getting those really nuanced stories, and those have been translated to the best bills in Student Assembly, and the best ideas I’ve had in Student Assembly.

“When you talk to more students around campus, that’s when you get the local knowledge,” DeMarco said. “You can put out as many surveys as you want … but it’s about talking to people and getting those really nuanced stories, and those have been translated to the best bills in Student Assembly, and the best ideas I’ve had in Student Assembly.”

While his musical pursuits help him meet new individuals at the College, DeMarco also enjoys them as a creative outlet. He sings for an hour each day and plays the cello and the piano, which provide him a space to do things of personal interest that are not influenced by how other people think.

Coming from outside of SA, Pollard has spent a lot of time in other campus organizations, and likewise pursues extracurricular activities both out of passion and a desire to pursue her interests without judgment. Her main commitment during her time at the College has been her position on the women’s basketball team, but she has many interests outside of basketball. Majoring in education, she plans to attend graduate school in order to work with children in the future.

Pollard works with an organization called Classroom Champions, where she records videos that provide life lessons about diversity and health, and then sends them to fourth-grade classrooms in Richmond and Newport News.

Pollard is also a member of the Black Student Organization that seeks to improve diversity on campus and provide a space for African-American students at the College.

“Coming in my freshman year, being a minority on campus … it was a welcoming community, but I would say that being in the organization has impacted how I’ve seen a shift on campus … it was nice being a part of a growing organization,” Pollard said.

She also enjoys filmmaking as a hobby, and currently operates a YouTube channel with her roommates as an expression of that passion.

Pollard agrees with DeMarco that it is unnecessary to prove yourself to other people, which she learned during her freshman season on the basketball team.

“It wasn’t necessarily proving yourself; it was just being yourself … do it because you want to,” Pollard said.