Platforms discussed at ‘Meet the Candidates’
More than 20 students spoke at the Student Government Association’s Meet the Candidates Night on Monday, hoping to win a seat on next year’s Senate. Though the turnout was high, several seats are still available and most are uncontested.
First to speak were students running for their respective class councils. For the class of 2012, Audra Quintin is running for president, Nicole Bitette for vice president, Caitlin O’Leary for secretary, and Mike Urban for treasurer.
Goals for the group include expanding their council to include several subcommittees, as well as creating and following through on plans for events that would keep students on campus during weekends.
“You can definitely help that, people just need to follow through on what they want to do,” Quintin said.
Bryan Lucas, Kerry Bocchetto, and Manny Scarpinato are running for president, vice president, and treasurer of the class of 2011 with hopes that they can start fundraising early for their senior week next year and incorporate many seniors’ ideas into the planning of the events.
“I’d like to see members of the class have a say in what we do for senior week…We are three brains out of hundreds of brains,” Lucas said.
There were no applicants for the class council for the class of 2013.
Sophomores Alex Curto and Audra Quintin are running for business seats. Both spoke about helping students more fully utilize the Career Center as well as the possible removal of calculus from the business school’s curriculum.
Freshmen senators Kendall Szulewski-Francis and Liz Andrews are running for the spots for the school of diplomacy. The two addresses idea such as trying to increase study abroad opportunities and working on the language requirement that has created issues for students of the diplomacy school.
“As a diplomacy student you are required to take a language for all eight semesters…many languages do not offer the levels above advanced,” explained Szulewski-Francis, saying that this is one of the issues she and Senator Andrews would like to change.
Moira Kelly is running for one of two seats in the education constituency, the other still being available. She says she hopes to spread the word to education majors that they have a senator who they can come to with concerns and hopes to bring the school more representation.
Kelly also discussed how many education majors struggle with their second required major, saying “it sometimes makes it difficult to graduate in four years,” which she explains can be overwhelming to freshmen. She suggests more comprehensive guidance for freshmen to ensure that they are filling all their requirements and can graduate on time.
Freshman Senator Mike Cruz is running for a resident senator position, and hopes to keep events on the weekends going on year-round to give residents activities they can participate in on campus.
Bryan Lucas and Will DeCotiis are running for two of six arts and sciences positions. Both have ideas to build arts and sciences school pride as well as increase senate transparency within their constituency.
DeCotiis spoke about the event’s high turnout but said that “A lot of times you don’t see this…one thing I’d like to do is run as SGA annual event…so that’s it’s not so daunting to come up to someone you don’t know.”
There are six students vying for the six At-Large senate seats: incumbents Ivan Vilela, Sebastian Zar, and Renee Callender, and new candidates Anton Heldmann, Derel Stroud, and Aaron Pittman.
Financial accountability and student involvement in university issues were the topics at the heart of the candidates’ discussion; many discussed issues such as the recent decision to cut the track program.
“A lot of students are coming up to me and asking where the money is going now that we’re cutting all these programs,” Callender said, who would like for students to have full access to the school budget plans.
While the candidates agreed that the university needs to be held accountable, Vilela noted that it still takes stronger student involvement to do so, saying “There is a need for involvement, for a voice to be heard…I don’t think that broadcast emails are the solution, but there will be a solution…just complaining is not the answer.”
The last to speak Monday night were the candidates running for positions on the SGA executive board. Current senators Mark Buryk and Dana Kappel are running for treasurer and vice president, respectively, while newcomer Paulina Zakkak is running for the secretary seat. Running as a ticket with Melissa Boege, the group hopes to encourage student involvement in SGA and make the senate more accessible to students.
Running for the single contested position, Executive board president, are current arts and sciences senator Melissa Boege and former Senate Parliamentarian Andrea Sokolich.
In the past, Boege has worked on the Off-Campus Safe Location Resolution, the Off-Campus Services Resolution, the Arts and Sciences Professor of the Year Award, and had co-authored the Constituency Town Hall Amendment, which was passed in February and changed the set-up of constituency meetings to two full-Senate meetings rather than individual meetings among constituencies.
Boege served as an SGA committee ad-hoc her sophomore year and now as a junior is an arts and sciences senator. Boege says her time as an ad-hoc prepared her for her time as a senator because “I knew what had gone on in the past, and I knew what initiatives I wanted to work on in the future.”
Sokolich was a freshman senator and Senate Parliamentarian her sophomore year, and co-authored a laptop accessibility bill as well as a town hall meetings bill. Sokolich took a gap year from SGA as a junior to gain perspective on how other students viewed SGA.
“I really had trouble understanding how people outside SGA had trouble getting involved with SGA,” she says of her reasoning for taking a year off from the organization.
Sokolich vows to be outgoing and take a leap on behalf of the senate, saying she isn’t afraid to talk to people and “isn’t afraid to push anybody’s buttons.”
Sokolich, who is not running as part of a ticket, also noted that she would bring something different to the executive board, asking students if they really want “a monolithic e-board.”
Boege says that if elected she will be available to all students at all times, and will follow through on all student suggestions.
Of her drive to push the student voice as far as it can go, she says “At the end of the day if a request is not feasible, the students will know that the SGA tried.”
Voting for all positions will take place in the Main Lounge from 10am-6pm on March 29 and 30.
Speaker Cosmo Cirillo called an impromptu meeting after the event ended, and the Senators stayed to discuss a co-sponsorship for the TedX at Seton Hall program, brought before the Senate by At-Large Senator Ivan Vilela.
The program, which is free of charge to students, would require $1400 from the SGA or other resources to pay for the transportation of the nine speakers who will be coming to Seton Hall in April. Seton Hall will be the first college in the northeast to host a TedX event.
In a unanimous vote, the Senate approved the full $1400.
Many Senate seats are still available in the commuter, nursing, education, business, and arts and sciences constituencies.
Interested students can find the application online, and applications will be accepted until April 5, with interviews held April 6 and 7. The installation ceremony for the new Senate will take place April 9 in the Chancellor’s Suite.
Katherine O’Brien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.