Student Life

Interview with the Candidates: Cameron Grinnell and TeddyMax Talanoa

This week is a valuable time for GCSA, as elections take place Thursday the 22th for the following academic term. For the most important position of President and Vice President, two teams are running together: current Vice President Cameron Grinnell is running for President with TeddyMax Talanoa, and Matheus Ramos is running with Tiffany Laterra.

Both tickets were interviewed by the Gordon Review to provide an opportunity for students to know the candidates on a deeper academic and personal level.  

Grinnell and Talanoa have served in GCSA for the past year and have developed relationships both inside and outside the student government on a personal level. When deciding to run together, each sought God first through prayer. 

Some of Cameron and Teddymax’s previous projects this past year in GCSA included updating the CL&W credit system and what counts as a CL&W Credit. Each was also able to take part in remodeling Gilles. Both believe in investing in student places to allow people to have authentic conversations and intentional time with God as a community. They also hope to continue building a system to address and report racial incidents that happen on campus.   

Campaign Theme: Reliable, Receptive, Restorative

Q: What made you decide to run for President and Vice President?  

A: TeddyMax Talanoa – I was applying for Presidential Fellows, and I think that was like a long-time dream of mine when I was first a freshman, and was going through the process, I was let go. That was a humbling moment but, it was a necessary moment and even though it was hard, I allowed myself time and space to grieve, what needed to be grieved. I definitely was allowed to move on and the Lord was definitely healing me of a lot of different things. As I was praying through it, I remember that the whole reason why I wanted to be a Presidential Fellow was yes, there’s professional development and I don’t want to dismiss that as being one of my motivations, but my primary drive behind that decision was to be put in a position that allowed me to impact students for good, and to bring about and affect individual and institutional change. When I was let go, I had to scramble and said, “okay Lord well, what are you calling me to? I still feel that you’re calling me to serve, but in what capacity?” He was like, well, it is right in front of you, you have been a part of GCSA for two years now. Allow next year to just be a continual part of that service. Sort of what comes to mind is just continued service for me and so I really wanted to reach out to Cam because I heard that he was running. Personally as an enneagram type two, I can, if I am unhealthy – I can really manipulate situations in my favor and try to take control of everything. But that is clear, like: if it is for you, God said it will be brought to you; Cam needs to make the decision of his own volition.  

Cameron Grinnell – Personally, whether I wanted to run for a while, I thought that TeddyMax was going to do GCSA and so that was my thinking for a while. When I was praying about this and discerning what would be best for Gordon, for GCSA and then for the two of us. When TeddyMax was going down a different road there was a readjustment period. And so that’s kind of the short story, but getting into kind of the reasoning behind it: first and foremost, this campaign and the ticket is about glorifying Christ, to the extent to which we fail to uplift him in our campaign, and if we are elected, is the extent to which we fail. And I love Gordon because we want to preserve and contribute to like Gordon being an institution that seeks after Christ. And so, TeddyMax – just in the year working with him and in the time that I’ve known him – you could tell that he was someone that this was at the heart of what he does. And so that was, reason number one. Second, through GCSA I wanted to really achieve that goal in tangible ways of bringing Christ at the center, and that was a lot of what TeddyMax did as VP of Student Life this past year.  He and his committee had countless meetings with the chapel office about reframing the chapel credit system and also working to me you know we have had conversations about possibly having a director position being reframed as sort of a liaison to the chapel office, or someone that is more dedicated to bringing spiritual matters into the conversation at GCSA.

Q: Describe your platform in a few sentences.  

A: TeddyMax Talanoa – When I think of the platform that we stand on, we are not the only one standing on it. I really see GCSA as being the entire student body, GCSA is all of us, and we are standing on that platform together.  

Cameron Grinnell – Our first thinking was building a base on social media. Over the past few days, we have been meeting with our campaign team which is wonderful. We have a group of around 10 people that have committed to helping us as an active campaigning team but then also in more of that focus group.  Part of the delay in getting them rolled out was we wanted to build up that follower base before we officially announced on social media. And I think that the three words that have guided us is: reliable, receptive, and restorative. And so, breaking down those three words, is that we’ve, we have been reliable through the unique challenges and opportunities of this past year. We took part in pivotal conversations, led a lot of initiatives we met with the Chair of the President for search committee many times, the Chairman of the Board President Lindsey frequently. We have been involved in student life constantly. There’s so much volatility and transition happening in on campus, it is important to have that stability we offer from the past experiences that we have been through.  

Q: How do you plan to hold administration accountable for the Shalom Plan, if at all? 

A: Cameron Grinnell – Yeah, I think what’s important is like making the student body aware of the Shalom plan. That’s what we’ve been doing the past week last, we invited Reverend Phil Bowling Dyer to forum, and then also the week before that we had him speak with us. I just wanted preface he’s the one who wrote that Shalom plan. Yeah, and we had at cabinet, and just really trying to bring this broad idea of Shalom Plan down to what it actually means. Because accountability is not Teddy Max and I have a really good understanding just for one plan therefore we’ll keep the administration accountable, because the reality is, in two years, we’re both going to be gone. What it means is that, how can we get the entire student body to understand what the administration is committed to what they have not committed to. And then helping people formulate their ideas about that, because 500 people are aware of what commitments have been made. That’s an accountability mechanism that’s way stronger than just TeddyMax and I or GCSA as a whole. 

TeddyMax Talanoa – I think when we’re communicating the importance of it to the entire student body but finding creative ways to do it because we recognize that, it’s going to be difficult for students. You know, it’s just another email in their inbox, but really, coming up with, in collaboration with the VP of Communications, you know, how GCSA can communicate best, what the Shalom plan even is. So that it’s, digestible and not just another thing that people have to worry about in their inbox. Then on the accountability part, stressing the fact that all of us are a part of that accountability, not just GCSA. 

Q: How do you find balance between GCSA, outside commitments, and personal life? 

A: TeddyMax Talanoa – when it comes to balancing all of these different things like prayer for me has really been important, and I’ll be honest, prayer is actually one of the spiritual disciplines that I find really difficult to do. And so, you know, being able to participate in students’ spaces like prayer walks, having community around you that can pray with you. That’s been one way that I’ve been able to balance all of these things but by no means am I the person that is best at it. 

Cameron Grinnell – I love the work that we do, so it’s not draining. There’s are times where it’s really tiring and draining. But a lot of times because it’s so relationally focused, it’s a lot of one-on-one meetings. It helps that I’m an extrovert. But I leave fulfilled and passionate about what we can do.  I love Gordon, my dad worked here for 30 years, my mom worked here for 20 years. I got baptized in Gull Pond. This is my place, and I love this institution. 

Q: What have been some of your proudest moments here at Gordon college? 

A: Cameron Grinnell – Student space has been a concern for probably a decade. Gillies specifically, was something that was worked on by Josh Grambow. So that was three years ago, continued in earnest by Jonathan but couldn’t come to fruition. It’s like standing on the shoulders of giants, we’re so thrilled that we’re going to be able to want to cross the finish line. The whole process has gone from start to finish. There has been so much planning going into this, what type of furniture, what type of paint. But it has been really fun. 

Q: How do you keep each other accountable as members if GCSA, but also as followers of the King? 

A: Cameron Grinnell – The first is that it’s Cam and TeddyMax made in the image of God working together serving. Second is the vehicle with, which we hope to be able to do that with, which has been president and vice president of GCSA. And by making that the center, the conversations that we hope to have would be, on text like where you want to be, we have cabinet in 10 minutes, great, you know logistically, oh what do you think about this, oh here’s a sermon that we just listened to you, or here’s a passage of scripture. Here’s a prayer request and so it’s something that is not set apart from what we do but very much informing and like prior to, in so that also it also helps in the sense. I have gotten to know TeddyMax in the last year working together and I hope to get to know him a lot more this coming year. One of my plans is having time separate from GCSA to have a Sabbath, relax together, have fellowship together, read Scripture together – worship. So that constantly is at the center at the focus, so not every conversation is dominated by the here and now. 

TeddyMax Talanoa – And when you look at Cameron and I, you see a white man, and a brown man that have varying political beliefs. But at the center of it, we have both said no, we are brothers in Christ. And we bear that image, and so we’re going to commit to praying with one another for one another for the entire college, student body, staff, faculty, and admin. When it comes to accountability just praying through that and like he said, I love him because he – it’s such an open line of communication. I think it helps that we’ve known each other since my freshman year. Since I’ve been at Gordon, I have known Cam and I’ve seen Cam go through different leadership roles and it’s just been a blessing to get to know him. I look forward to getting to know him even more through what he’s talking about like, being intentional about time with each other outside of the organization as well. 

Categories: Student Life

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