Adam Fitts | Reporter

Michail Ratcliff, East Central College’s first openly gay Student Government Association President, wants to help people while staying true to himself.

“If I can’t be authentic to myself, then I can’t be a good leader,” Ratcliff said.

Ratcliff is the new SGA President as of the Spring 2018 semester but has been involved with the school well before becoming president. He had previously been SGA’s public relations officer while easing into school after having not been in school for a year, and this shift to president has allowed him to help people in ways he couldn’t before.

The SGA president wants to let people know that there are people to help them if they need it, and teachers are willing to listen.  He wants to help “bridge the rift between students and staff” to keep people informed about what happens around the campus. Ratcliff wants people to spread a message of equality to the students of ECC, and for people to realize that acceptance of yourself is important.

Ratcliff realizes that while most don’t want to be open, he does hope they find someone to confide in, someone they can trust. It’s not easy to come out, and it may take time. Ratcliff said that one must “break down on an ice block” and slowly work on accepting who they are. It may not happen in an instant but being supported by someone is the key to trust, which is why Ratcliff was excited for the new club by Juanita Ziegler, called Gender and Sexualities Alliance, as there would be a place to support those who need help.

Ratcliff wants students to be involved in what goes on around campus, which is why he says he wants to leave “a legacy of being inclusive and friendly.” Therefore, he is advocating for club involvement, as he believes people should have more than one reason for going to college, and meeting new people and building relationships can be a major one.

For Ratcliff, SGA has had a few challenges such as senate attendance being low and disturbances during senate meetings, but he says he wouldn’t have been in SGA if he couldn’t handle it.

“Being in SGA is like playing ‘Magic the Gathering;’ the more fun and inclusion you have in it, the better it is,” Ratcliff said.

Since the spring semester began, the senate has had more regular members attending the meetings and currently sits at around 16 members, which is up from 10 members in the fall. His hope for inclusion on the campus has helped the senate keep a regular crowd and for people to help with simple tasks, like putting up flyers for events.

As a public relations officer in Fall 2017, Ratcliff coordinated with people that have had experience in SGA before and took a few leaps to get people involved with campus events. With his taking fewer classes than a full-time student, he had more time to devote to SGA. He was recommended the position of president back as PR, but he turned it down due to having just started school again and didn’t want to be completely bogged down.

Following former SGA president Melissa Yetkin’s announcement of graduation at the end of 2017, Ratcliff assumed the role would fit him well and decided to run for the position.

“I’ve been around the school for roughly six semesters now,” Ratcliff said, “so I know a lot of people and that allows me to work harder than ever. I’m more than willing to talk to people. I want people to be honest with themselves.”

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