By Ella Murdock Gardner ’22
Many Scripps students know politics major Maya Lynch ’22 for her work as junior class co-president. But this year, she’s stepping into a new role as president of Scripps Associated Students (SAS). Here’s a closer look at Lynch’s leadership philosophy, her goals for the 2021–2022 school year, and her activist ambitions.
Office of Marketing and Communications: What inspired you to run for SAS president?
Maya Lynch: I was mostly inspired by all the incredible student activists at Scripps, especially the two SAS presidents that came before me. Last year, when I was co-president of the junior class, I watched Safia use SAS to take a stand for student equity through grading policies during the pandemic. Niyati, the president before Safia, pushed the College to make a huge financial divestment through the Drop Sodexo campaign. Across the board, there are so many students at Scripps who are passionate about different causes, so I wanted to be in a position where I could learn from them, work with them, and use my platform to help further positive change at the College.
MC: How would you describe your leadership style?
ML: I always try to foster a collaborative, non-judgmental environment within SAS. I want everyone to feel comfortable sharing their opinions, trying out new ideas, and learning from our mistakes and successes as the school year goes on. I also acknowledge that I’m certainly going to be making mistakes, so I always try to be really open to feedback.
MC: What are your highest priorities for the 2021–2022 school year? Where do you see SAS making the biggest impact at the College?
ML: My main priority is to work hand-in-hand with student leaders across the College; I want to use their knowledge and their concerns to drive the SAS agenda. Since we’ll all be returning to campus after a year-and-a-half apart, I also want to focus a lot of attention and resources on re-developing and strengthening community connections. For example, if we can do it safely, we’re going to be rolling out an artist series where we invite student artists to lead workshops. We’re hoping to purchase all the necessary supplies so that all students can participate without facing cost barriers. I think SAS has the power to create a College community that’s inclusive and welcoming and driven to make positive change, not just on campus, but in the wider world as well.
MC: What does a typical day in your position entail?
ML: I take a lot of meetings! I meet with members of SAS, I talk to student leaders, and I frequently have conversations with Scripps administration to relay students’ thoughts and concerns. Being a mediator between the student body and the administration is a big part of my role, and Safia and Niyati have given me great advice about how to effectively navigate those conversations. Aside from my more official duties as president, I’m constantly thinking about how to improve the College; I spend a lot of time brainstorming and bouncing ideas off my girlfriend, and I’m always on the current students’ Facebook page trying to identify issues I can address through my role.
MC: Outside of your role as SAS president, what do you do for fun?
ML: Every year, I try to enroll in a couple of wacky physical education classes. So far, I’ve done half-marathon training, a self-defense class, an aerial silk class, and scuba diving. Once, when I was scuba diving, someone handed me a sea anemone and several fish started eating directly out of my hand. It was one of the coolest moments I’ve ever experienced. For next semester, I’m currently signed up to take archery lessons. I love staying active, it’s a great way for me to de-stress, and I’m so happy that The Claremont Colleges offer an enormous range of these unconventional PE classes. They’re also a great way to learn new skills!
MC: What are you hoping to pursue after graduation?
ML: I know I want to be working in advocacy, most likely at the grassroots level. There are so many different issues I care about: prison abolition, racial equity issues, the wealth gap, food apartheid. I’m not sure exactly where I’ll focus yet, but one of the best parts about being SAS president is working with students who are highly knowledgeable about all these areas and deeply committed to making real change.