The global COVID-19 pandemic has halted the lives of the majority of Brooklyn College’s students. As they creatively attempt to avoid bouts of cabin fever, students welcome the end to what has certainly been a challenging semester. But for Kyle Reese, a junior at Brooklyn College, not even a global crisis can quell his hunger to bring about change.
Reese (pictured left) is determined to make as much of an impact on student lives as possible. He is the New York Regional President of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, he’s an appointed committee member of the Brooklyn College LGBT Resource Committee, and he’s the founding President of the Queer Student Action Alliance.
Yet still Reese wishes to do more.
He has always prided himself on his ability to instill action where it is needed, which is why he decided to run for University Student Senate (USS) Delegate for Brooklyn College. “I want to get in there and make some noise,” said Reese. “I’d be a part of the student senate body for the entire student body of CUNY as a university. They’re capable of passing important resolutions.”
His role as USS Delegate, according to the CUNY USS website, will be to represent Brooklyn College students in order for the USS to effectively “[shape] university, city, state and federal policy.” Reese said his immediate focus will be on townhall meetings: “I want to know what is on everybody’s mind so that I can bring that to the senate. I want to be prepared so that I can be a better voice.” He aims to make the USS a valuable tool for both the students and the college — “we need to make USS a bit stronger, give it more power, so that when we have these really important student concerns, we can act on them.”
Reese says it’s not that CUNY is terrible, or even that it has all that many flaws. He’s merely calling for accountability. “Tuition hikes during a pandemic would be one of those things,” said Reese. “That’s kicking students while they’re down, and that’s not right.” Reese is referring to the annual $200 tuition increase approved last June.
Another issue of accountability stems from an unfulfilled resolution passed last year regarding specific food options on campus. “We have so many demographics in the student group — different religions and ethnicities,” said Kyle. “Jewish and Muslim students have to eat Halal and Kosher food, and there still aren’t really any options on campus. This needs to change.” Among food accessibility for students, Reese hopes to address the lack of all-gender bathrooms on campus as well as increased access to prayer rooms.
His desire to make changes to CUNY comes from a place of love, he said. “They took me out of a crappy place and put me where I needed to be. I found my way with them. I have a lot of loyalty to them.” In 2018, while Reese was working in healthcare, he was diagnosed with lupus. It upended his career. “But then I found CUNY, and turned a horrible situation into one of tremendous personal growth.”
It is unconfirmed, but Reese, if elected, could be the first transgender person to be elected as USS Delegate of Brooklyn College. “I’m not running based on that, but I’m excited to be a queer voice on top of the idea of being a voice for everyone.”
With just a few days until elections begin, and a campaign that has been confined to his Brooklyn apartment, Reese is looking to some pretty unconventional means of getting the word out. Apart from blasting his messages out on Facebook and Instagram, he’s also been collaborating with other student leaders in the hopes of promoting each other. He’s even got a TikTok video in the works.
Come rain, come snow, come global pandemic, Reese is determined to make a difference at his beloved Brooklyn College, “I just want to foster unity and really help the students to be successful and healthy in every way that we’re able to.”
Elections for USS Delegate and Undergraduate Student Government begin on Monday May 4, and will end at midnight on Wednesday May 6. To vote, log in to your CUNY WebCentral account. Select “Student Government Elections” under the “Home” or “Shortcuts” tab, and then click on the “Cast Your Vote” button.