Every year, after reviewing the platforms and conducting interviews of each candidate running for SGA Executive Board, The News-Letter Editorial Board determines which candidates to endorse. The Editorial Board chooses to endorse the candidates that best suit the position, provide the most relevant experience and demonstrate a plan for achieving success and enacting change.
Of the candidates, there are two groups running as tickets and one independent candidate running for Vice President (junior Alex Pressman). The first ticket is made up of junior Merrill Anovick, sophomore Janice Bonsu, junior Dylan Gorman and sophomore Rob D’Annibale. On the second ticket are juniors Alex Schupper, Makesi Paul, Schaefer Whiteaker and freshman Kyra Toomre.
In the interviews performed, The News-Letter was concerned by the amount of criticism many of the candidates levied at the current SGA leadership. The first ticket was particularly adamant in expressing dissatisfaction with the way in which SGA has been run. Among their chief complaints, the group cited the lack of a mentorship program as a major failure on the part of the Executive leadership.
While the second ticket admittedly agreed with many of these failings, they also highlighted the way in which somewhere around 80 percent of the SGA staff were new members. Simply put, the mentorship program was not possible with so few experienced leaders to teach the new members of the group.
Both tickets seem quite polarized, which has been a recurring problem over the past few years. The Anovick ticket maintains a negative attitude of this year’s SGA, which in some ways has come to define their candidacy. Separately, the Anovick ticket seems to focus predominantly on issues within the SGA, while the Schupper ticket seems to be more student-oriented. Both tickets expressed impressive ideas, but each one lacked important issues that the other addressed. The News Letter believes that there should be a better balance between the two platforms, which is why we feel the student body would be best served if it elected members from both tickets to create a coalition.
SGA Executive President
Besides leading the executive board, the role of the president is to act as a liaison between the student body and the administration. Both Anovick and Schupper have a strong history of SGA experience. Anovick served as Freshman and Sophomore Class President for his year. He was elected Junior Class President but gave up the position at the beginning of the year in order to take a job working for Google. At present, Schupper is the Vice President of the SGA Executive Board.
The Editorial Board finds that both candidates possess a strong platform and a wealth of ideas to apply for the next year. This year, Schupper has worked hard on many dining changes to come into effect at the beginning of next year, spending his winter break reading 1,200 pages of dining proposals, visiting different schools’ dining halls and interviewing with potential candidates in the service of enhancing the Hopkins dining experience. Schupper’s platform also proposes giving each student 100 pages of free printing—a $6 value, but something he feels will be useful. The Editorial Board appreciates Schupper’s attention to detail and his willingness to work closely with the student body.
Anovick, on the other hand, believes in the importance of maintaining and developing connections with the administration. The News-Letter applauds this concept, along with his platform’s recommended revision of Fall Fest, and its expansion of point-to-point shuttle service on weekdays, among many other initiatives .
However, the key issue in dividing the two candidates is the idea of a referendum on the SGA’s constitution. Schupper believes that there ought to be a set criteria to determine whether a group can be denied or approved. He also hopes to amend the constitution’s mandated 15 percent of the student body required to set up a referendum. In this way, the student body would have an opportunity to more easily participate in matters of the SGA.
Anovick, on the other hand, argues that the “ambiguity” in the SGA constitution regarding the denial of student group status to certain clubs actually serves to protect the SGA. He argues that the issue of approval is ultimately about funding and recognition and that it’s the SGA’s responsibility to determine where to allocate funds and resources. The student body should not be burdened.
The Editorial Board agrees that in light of recent problems, change is needed. When it comes down to it, the student body ought to at least have the chance to play more of a role in the way the SGA functions.
For these reasons, we endorse Alex Schupper for SGA Executive President.
SGA Vice President
There are three candidates running for SGA Vice President: Pressman, Paul and Bonsu. The main role of the Vice President is to run the senate meetings.
Pressman, currently a class Senator and a member of the Appointments and Evaluations committee, is not running on a ticket, but instead on a few individual ideas. He has many creative initiatives including an SGA-owned bus and a system that allows you to access University facilities even if you’ve left your J-card at home, among others. Pressman also appealed to increased transparency including his online forum to make SGA suggestions and a taping of SGA meetings regarding student group approval.
Despite these great ideas, Pressman seems unprepared to address programs related to sustainability or academics, and for this reason The News-Letter does not feel that Pressman is altogether qualified to take on the position of Vice President.
In a similar way, the Editorial Board endorses many of Paul’s points, but does not feel that he has the adequate experience to be an effective Vice President. As an RA, Paul’s ideas about a Blue Jay shuttle bus to Fells Point and the students’ overall interaction with Baltimore are great ideas to be incorporated.
Bonsu, a current Sophomore Class Senator, on the other hand, seems to possess both the experience and the ideas to be a successful Vice President. When describing her platform, she articulated it as “a lot of vision and great teamwork.” The News-Letter feels that Bonsu’s role on the SGA has been a success this year, as she was hyper-involved in meetings and the internal culture of SGA.
For these reasons, we endorse Janice Bonsu for SGA Vice President.
The SGA Treasurer is responsible for managing the budget and allocating funds to student groups. This year, both candidates have experience in SGA and have suitable ideas.
One of Gorman’s main goals is to secure more funding for student groups. He made an important point about how the number of student groups has risen substantially over the past years, while the total amount of funding SGA receives has not. He also clearly specified various ways in which he would attempt to secure these additional funds, such as through the parents’ fund.
Gorman also played an important role in implementing the natural gas initiative, which will make all JHMI shuttles natural gas based starting next year.
Whiteaker is currently on SGA and serves as the SAC chair. He wants to increase the transparency of the SAC and work to fix the disconnect between the commission and the groups it serves. Both of these are praiseworthy goals, but Whiteaker lacks specificity in explaining how he would approach them. Additionally while certainly qualified and familiar with the inner-workings of the SGA, Whiteaker seems to show considerably less enthusiasm than Gorman.
For these reasons we endorse Dylan Gorman for SGA Treasurer.
The Secretary’s main role is to communicate the student body’s ideas to the SGA, manage its website and write the meeting minutes. This year, The News Letter believes that Kyra Toomre is the best candidate for Secretary. While both hopefuls showed a lot of energy, Toomre has a proven record of leadership in SGA. She is currently a counselor in the Voice For Life v. SGA case and is also on the SGA’s Student Services committee.
One of Toomre’s main ideas for next year is to increase community cohesion between lower and upperclassmen. To accomplish this, Toomre is currently planning a carnival to take place during Orientation Week. Additionally, she co-created the SGA’s Twitter page this year, which is a small but important step in helping improve the way the student body communicates with the SGA and vice versa.
Rob D’Annibale, the candidate for secretary on the Anovick ticket, showed a genuine eagerness to connect with the student body. He proposed an interesting idea which would streamline SGA emails and make them less frequent but more detailed. However, Toomre’s highly valuable experience in student government this year makes her a more viable candidate.
For these reasons, we endorse Kyra Toomre for SGA Secretary.