As spring begins, so do the Student Government Association (SGA) Elections, which will take place early next week.
Two tickets are running for the Executive Board positions of president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.
Rishi Shah is running for president, along with Darby DeBonis for vice president, Divine Tanamal for treasurer and Amanda Giang for secretary. Their adversaries are Josie Martinez for president, along with Marlene Da Cruz for vice president, Richard Behan for treasurer and Olivia Montine for secretary.
Though current SGA president Christina Simon is only a junior, she is not running for re-election. An English and public relations major, Simon said she does not wish to share why she is not running at this time.
Simon wrote in an email that she hopes the next SGA president and E-board “will continue to communicate with the student body and administrators to advocate for the interest of our students.”
She offered advice, saying, “I would only advise the future officers to see their duty to the students as motivation to complete initiatives and overcome tribulations. It is most important to cultivate productive partnerships with students and administrators in order to create action that will benefit and empower our student body.”
Shah, a sophomore finance and economics major, is currently SGA treasurer and has served in SGA for two years.
Shah wrote via email he chose to run for president after he discovered his “passion for servant leadership.”
He said he always served in SGA at his full capacity, but had not thought about his next steps until a few months back when he was talking to Tanamal. He said she told him he should consider running for president because “we need a leader like you.”
Shah said this helped him realize “that Seton Hall needed a leader that was driven by passion, not politics or an insatiable thirst for power.”
Shah said he picked his ticket of DeBonis, Tanamal and Giang “by seeking out the most engaged, passionate and versatile leaders on campus”
Shah said his campaign focuses on “diversity and racial injustice on and off-campus.”
To address this issue, Shah said they will put into place a Presidential Cabinet. Members of the cabinet will include a liaison from each SHU multicultural organization, including the College Republicans and the College Democrats, as well as a Greek representative from each Greek Council. Also in the cabinet will be the SGA E-board and advisor.
“To further address racial and social injustices, we will continue to work with the administration from all schools to have student representatives be involved in hiring new faculty,” he said. “We will also advocate for a campus-wide diversity requirement through the core curriculum and incorporate more diversity training in core classes such as U-Life, Religion and English Courses.”
Shah’s platform also includes good food quality, continuous dining and more outside vendors providing options to students. He also mentioned more diverse representation in staff, faculty and student organizations.
Other platform points Shah detailed are tuition transparency, better funding for clubs and transforming the budgeting process, as well as a campus-wide diversity core requirement.
Shah said that the Finance Committee, Tanamal and him “created a plan to promote consistency and longevity of a clubs budget through a new policy.” He added, “We plan on implementing a case by case basis policy that will not see massive cuts or gains in any given budget.”
He said this policy will let clubs “spend freely, and be rewarded if they are on a good growth track, fundraising and creating positive impacts on campus.”
This policy was first read at the SGA meeting on March 19. A second reading and voting will take place at next week’s SGA meeting.
DeBonis, a sophomore nursing major with a second major in philosophy, wrote in an email, “We trust and believe in each other, I think we would work terrifically together in order to accomplish the goals we have set for our potential administration.”
Presidential candidate Martinez, who currently serves as SGA secretary, also spoke about her ticket and their campaign.
A sophomore political science and economics double major, Martinez wrote in an email that this is her second year in SGA.
Martinez said she loves SHU, but sees the issues that students face. She said the issues “aren’t impossible to fix and in the two years that I have been in SGA I have found that we have made significant progress to help the student body, but we can do so much more.”
“I see the potential Seton Hall has and I want to be a part of leading the effort to work towards a better SHU,” she added.
Martinez said her ticket’s platform focuses on three issues on campus, but added that they won’t limit themselves to just those issues.
Speaking about their first issue of commuter inclusion, Martinez said her ticket “will work towards improving the quality of life for commuter students who feel ignored and feel deprived of the real SHU experience by working with Parking Services to bring improved parking for students as well as working for a common hour which would give students a chance to connect with the university community.”
She said the second point of her platform centers on “more collaboration with GDS [Gourmet Dining Services] to bring greater variety and consistency in food quality.”
The third issue is working “to take steps to change the culture of sexual assault on campus by implementing additional education on consent,” Martinez said.
She added that through her experience she has seen that many issues are caused by a lack of communication.
“It’s difficult for anything to get fixed in the first place if administration and SGA are not aware of the issues. I want to work to bridge that gap by making SGA more accessible to students and ensuring there is student representation on University committees,” she said.
Da Cruz, a sophomore political science major, currently serves as an Arts and Sciences senator. She is also a part of the SGA Public Relations Committee, a member of the Technology, Learning and Technology Center committee, and a political science representative for the Deans Undergraduate Student Cabinet for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Da Cruz wrote in an email, “Holding these positions has helped me foster and improve my relationship with students and administrators.”
Da Cruz said they also plan to work with Public Safety to “crack down on speeding and damages to cars,” and make “convenient parking for students.”
Expanding further, Da Cruz said her ticket wants “to work with Parking Services to look into reassigning spots in the parking lots and deck on campus that are currently assigned to faculty, to accommodate more students. There are more spots on campus now that construction in the Welcome Center has finished.”
Da Cruz added that, “Besides providing additional resources to survivors of sexual assault, we will push for a greater emphasis on education on consent.”
Students can submit their electronic ballot on March 26 starting at 6 a.m. Voting closes at 3 p.m. on March 27.
Samantha Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.