Only one candidate in this year’s Student Government Association’s (SGA) Executive Board elections is running opposed. We suspect that this is because, for the second year, elections for the SGA class councils and executive board are being held at the same time in an effort to increase voter turnout and streamline the voting process.
As the Editorial Board noted in its endorsements a year ago, “a major flaw in the Committee for Student Elections’ (CSE) decision to reschedule elections” is that students who do not get elected to an executive board position “will not have the opportunity to be involved in their SGA class council.”
It is unfortunate that qualified representatives did not run because they were scared to lose. Uncontested elections promote the recurrent issue of student apathy toward SGA, as well as less effective governance. It is a shame that students have few candidates to choose from to best represent their needs.
Upon interviewing the SMART ticket as well as one independent candidate, Karen He, the Editorial Board endorses the following candidates for SGA’s 2021-22 Executive Board: Mehak Ali for executive president, Breanna Soldatelli for executive vice president, Elaina Regier for executive secretary and Karen He for executive treasurer.
PRESIDENT: MEHAK ALI
Although the position of executive president is uncontested, we endorse junior Mehak Ali for the role. For the past two years, Ali has served as executive vice president and has worked to improve internal affairs within SGA. Although we do have concerns about SGA culture, she ran semesterly retreats to teach new senators about leadership and mediated conflict through trainings and meetings.
Ali noted that due to COVID-19, the Executive Board has struggled to follow through with long-term projects, focusing instead on pressing issues such as grading, housing and dining. While most of her work in the past year has been reactive to the pandemic, Ali hopes to be more proactive in assessing student needs next year through online feedback, increased transparency and a larger social media presence.
Ali has the experience to serve effectively in this role. In fall 2019 she was nominated to be executive vice president when her predecessor became executive president, and last year she was elected to the same position after running unopposed.
If elected this year, Ali will never have been elected to the executive board through a competitive process. We hope that she will work with the CSE to ensure that next year’s elections are more competitive. We also hope that she will use her relationships with University leaders to enact concrete changes, including expanded mental health services and required diversity training for faculty.
VICE PRESIDENT: BREANNA SOLDATELLI
For the uncontested role of executive vice president, we endorse sophomore Breanna Soldatelli. As current executive secretary and former freshman class president, Soldatelli has ample experience to bring to the role.
We are impressed with Soldatelli’s accomplishments this year. This year’s SGA is notably more transparent than previous years, with live-streamed meetings, updated minutes online and frequent emails. Additionally, Soldatelli chairs both the Hispanic Latinx Caucus and the Communications and Marketing Committee.
Soldatelli has clear goals for the year ahead, including campus-wide events and traditions to foster community. She also highlighted her ticket’s plans to promote sustainability through compost bins and an energy-efficient student center.
We are confident that Ali and Soldatelli, who ran on a shared ticket last year, will continue working well together in their respective positions.
SECRETARY: ELAINA REGIER
We endorse Elaina Regier for the uncontested role of executive secretary. Even as a freshman class senator, Regier has already taken extensive strides to better the experiences of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community at Hopkins. She has amplified gender-based student organizations’ efforts and is working to implement preferred names and pronouns on Hopkins databases. In addition, she co-introduced the Resolution Formally Calling for a Reduction of Student Financial Burdens.
Regier genuinely wants to increase transparency within SGA. We appreciate her interest in creating a goal-oriented document to hold candidates responsible to their platforms next year.
She has been candid about how University leaders do not understand students’ needs, and aims to increase productive communication between students and administrators. We are confident that she will hold both SGA and administrators accountable in her role as executive secretary.
TREASURER: KAREN HE
For the sole contested role in this election, we endorse Sophomore Class Senator Karen He, an independent candidate, as executive treasurer. As Chair of the Finance Committee, He has worked directly with the current executive treasurer to approve student group budget allocations, update funding guidelines and communicate funding changes to student group leaders. Her involvement on the Student Organizations Committee will also ensure that He knows what student groups most need.
He did note that attendance among Finance Committee members has been low this year, and given her self-described “non-confrontational” attitude, we question her ability to increase attendance. However, her experience working with SGA both virtually and in-person has prepared her well for the role of executive treasurer.
Freshman Class Senator Harvey McGuinness, part of the SMART ticket, is also running for executive treasurer. We were impressed with the work he has done for SGA, including voluntarily rewriting the Student Activities Commission guidelines and co-introducing the resolution calling for tuition reduction. McGuinness stated that as a student with a disability, he understands current issues with accessibility at Hopkins and aims to address them. We hope that next year’s SGA continues his push for uniform accommodation processes.
McGuinness has real-world experience balancing books and writing contracts for his family business. However, we believe that He’s experience working directly with the current executive treasurer in a leadership role positions her for greater success. It is unfortunate that if not elected, McGuinness will not hold a position on SGA despite being a passionate and effective student representative.
We believe that all of the candidates running have the potential to make a positive impact on SGA. While administrators struggled to communicate about racism and reopening, SGA excelled amid many unpredictable changes last summer and fall. As life returns to “normal,” we hope that SGA will pursue long-term goals. Next year’s executive board should push for student representation on the Board of Trustees, which almost 3000 students called for in the 2018-19 referendum, and other ways to expand students’ influence over University decisions.
Beyond reinforcing the status quo, as uncontested candidates often do, we urge the 2021-22 SGA Executive Board to make long-needed tangible differences in the lives of students.
Correction: The original version of this article repeatedly misspelled McGuinness as McGuiness.
The News-Letter regrets this error.
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