Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
July 12, 2020

New SGA representatives discuss future initiatives

By RYAN AGHAMOHAMMADI | October 3, 2019

EDA INCEKARA/PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR SGA welcomes new Senior Class Senator and Freshman Class Council.

The Committee on Student Elections announced the results of the Student Government Association (SGA) Senior Class Senator Special Election and Freshman Class Council elections on Thursday, Sept. 26. According to SGA Executive President Aspen Williams, the Freshman Class Council elections saw a record number of candidates.

For the 2019-20 academic year, the freshman class president is Breanna Soldatelli, and the freshman class senators are Eric Yang, Anthony Singleton, Sebastian Alatorre, Mariano Thomas, Chinat Yu and Karen He. In addition, Jake O’Keeffe was elected to fill the vacancy on the Senior Class Council left by Madelynn Wellons, who resigned.  

The freshman class elections drew a slight decrease in voter turnout, with 56 percent of the Class of 2023 voting compared to 57 percent of the Class of 2022. About 16 percent of the Class of 2020 participated in the senior special election, with 154 of 206 voters casting their ballots for O’Keeffe.

Freshman Class President Breanna Soldatelli, who won with 173 votes by a 28-point lead, identified free printing as a key component of her platform. 

“The most important issue for me is free printing.... If Hopkins can offer it to certain majors, then they have the ability to do it,” she said. “Fundamentally it’s about equality.”

Soldatelli expressed her concern that the cost of printing can act as a barrier for certain students. She argued that free printing could be implemented through pre-existing structures. 

“If we can add more money to the allocated laundry fund, they could use that for printing as well,” she said. 

In addition to free printing, the newly elected representatives focused on a variety of issues, ranging from mental health to student engagement with Baltimore. 

O’Keeffe called on students to expand their presence in the greater Baltimore community.

“There’s a significant extracurricular and outside non-academic part of life that is very important and is sometimes overlooked,” he said. “Engagement with Baltimore is important. Expanding access to downtown Baltimore is important. It all circles back to this idea of school spirit and student engagement.”

He added that increasing the amount of school-sponsored tailgates through offices such as Fraternity and Sorority Life and Student Leadership and Involvement could help increase a sense of belonging on campus. 

Freshman Class Senator Eric Yang echoed O’Keeffe’s sentiments, citing the significance of extracurricular events such as sports games. 

“We’ve been stressed enough in high school trying to come to Hopkins, and once you get to Hopkins, you’re still stressing about work,” he said. “I feel like Hopkins isn’t sports-oriented, and that shows that we don’t have school spirit.”

Yang suggested that having more consistent events open to all students could boost morale. He added that even small events could help improve quality of life on campus. 

“For example, SGA handing out free doughnuts and coffee during midterms,” he said. “That’s small but it can make people happy.”

Similarly, Freshman Class Senator Mariano Thomas emphasized his commitment to improving mental health on campus. 

“We definitely want to focus on mental health awareness,” he said. “We want to emphasize the resources we have like A Place To Talk.”

Fellow Freshman Class Senator Anthony Singleton highlighted his plans to facilitate discourse on campus in an email to The News-Letter. 

“Free speech and discussion between different ideas are the best tool we have to combat the problems we face,” he wrote. “Hopkins should establish regularly scheduled student forums.”

According to Singleton, these forums would enable students to voice their opinions to faculty, administrators and other students.

Singleton explained that he will seek a diversity of opinions.

“My goal on SGA this year is to meet as many people as possible and to get their perspective on things,” he wrote. 

O’Keeffe reaffirmed that he intends to represent the interests of his class and also those of younger students. 

“Being on SGA isn’t just about affecting what class you’re in,” he said. “It’s about improving the experience for incoming students too.”

Soldatelli underscored her goal to effect as much positive change on campus as she can. She hopes that every student feels comfortable to discuss their concerns with her so she can do her best to address them. 

“I am your voice,” she said. “If it is possible at all, I will do it.”

Thomas agreed, defining what he believes to be SGA’s responsibility.

“The main values and core of the SGA is to be approachable and be a voice that represents all backgrounds and all concerns of each student,” he said.

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