Once again, all but one position of the Student Government Association (SGA) Executive Board elections are uncontested. In past years, we’ve noted that those appointed in uncontested elections often lack accountability and encouragement to undertake new initiatives. Some of last year’s uncontested candidates are running in this year’s elections.
One reason for the lack of competition among these positions is because the Committee on Student Elections (CSE) schedules SGA Class Council and Executive Board elections concurrently. This means that those who do not win positions on the Executive Board will not be able to run for other positions in next year’s SGA.
As noted previously by the Editorial Board, this hinders experienced and committed members from running for higher positions and remaining involved in initiating change on campus.
Not only are the elections largely uncontested, but voter turnout has been decreasing every year. Last year, only 12% of students participated – a rate even lower than that of the March 2020 SGA election, which itself had lower turnout than the previous year.
Upon interviewing the candidates, the Editorial Board endorses the following for the 2022-2023 Executive Board: Raymond Perez for executive president, Kobi Khong for executive vice president, Elaina Regier for executive secretary and Kya Nicholson for executive treasurer.
EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT: RAYMOND PEREZ
We believe that all three independent candidates for executive president are strong and capable of succeeding in the position. Ultimately, our decision to endorse Perez stems from the fact that we have called attention to issues such as the lack of transparency within SGA for many years and have not seen change, something all candidates recognized as an issue.
Though SGA meetings are now live streamed, for instance, the videos have failed multiple times to record large portions of the conversation. Even now that SGA regularly updates its website, the onus remains on students to seek out this resource. We firmly believe that Perez, who does not currently hold a position on SGA, will be the fresh perspective needed to incite real change.
Of course, we acknowledge that there is a disadvantage to Perez not having experience on SGA while both his opponents, current Executive Vice President Breanna Soldatelli and current Executive Treasurer Karen He, have served on SGA for the past three years. Despite this, Perez showed a comprehensive understanding of past SGA legislations and a commitment to improving SGA’s internal operations.
Perez’s platform was unique in that it was based on the idea that the University's administration does not take SGA seriously. One of his ideas to address this is to amend the SGA constitution to expand its Executive Board in order for it to be more proactive and capable of getting more done.
Perez has also demonstrated his ability to listen to students and turn their ideas into action through his work with College Democrats of Maryland. He explained that last year, a current Hopkins student brought his attention to the importance of the Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act. Perez worked with student governments across Maryland to lobby state delegates. The act, which works to keep student voters informed about voter registration and procedures, ultimately passed in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Not only does this highlight Perez’s experience in government and legislative action, but it establishes his commitment to informed voting and voter turnout, both places with a demonstrated need for improvement within SGA elections. We support his idea, which Soldatelli, Regier and Nicholson shared, to implement in-person SGA elections as that has been proven to drive voter turnout at other schools.
We are confident that, should Perez be elected, he will fight hard for goals within SGA. We believe that these goals, which include appointing a faculty member to advocate for student mental health, lowering the mental health treatment deductible from student insurance and maintaining a hybrid model for classes even as COVID-19 restrictions become looser, showcase an understanding of the student body and the issues that face campus today.
That being said, we want to highlight that all three candidates for Executive President exhibited a deep understanding of campus needs and expressed a commitment to making necessary changes. It is a deep flaw in the CSE’s current system that the two candidates who are not elected will be unable to run for their class councils.
We recognize Soldatelli’s commitment to advocating for student concerns, including pushing for flexible grading policies during the onset of the pandemic and attempting to reinstate fall break for students last semester as the pandemic raged on. We especially commend her initiative in creating an SGA feedback survey during her candidacy for Executive President and implore whoever is elected to act on the input that this survey yields.
Similarly, as current co-chair of the finance committee, He is well positioned to act on her initiative of making student group funding more accessible. We also support her idea to increase student engagement with Baltimore by organizing transportation from campus to unique places in the city.
Our decision to endorse Perez is not based on weaknesses that we see in the other candidates’ platforms but rather the need that has been demonstrated for internal change within SGA that has not been fulfilled by those currently in positions. The candidates raised multiple important issues — increasing student engagement with SGA and Baltimore, facilitating a smooth transition back to in-person activities and increasing SGA’s transparency were commonalities between their platforms — and we hope to see these ideas actualized by whoever is elected.
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: KOBI KHONG
We endorse Kobi Khong for the uncontested role of executive vice president. Currently serving as sophomore class president and previously serving as freshman vice president, Khong has undertaken efforts to highlight underrepresented voices on campus and encourage diversity and inclusion, something we hope he will carry with him to the executive vice president role if elected.
As Director of Engagement for the Inter-Asian Council and Director of Advocacy for the Multicultural Leadership Council, Khong has shown dedication to these causes. Additionally, he recently introduced the initiative to create a Critical Diasporic Studies program at the University.
We support his tangible commitment to transparency and informing the student body of the progress of bills and initiatives, whether they are passed or not. Through this, we are confident that he will continue to keep constituents informed.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY: ELAINA REGIER
We endorse Elaina Regier for the uncontested position of Executive Secretary, the role she currently holds.
Regier’s experiences in the role inform her ideas to increase transparency and engagement with SGA through Instagram outreach. While her plans to inform the study body on senators’ initiatives are definitely necessary, we hope to see her implement and seek out even more ways to increase transparency.
Regier also stressed that SGA’s extensive programming has been accomplished at the expense of advocacy work. We applaud her awareness of this shortcoming and her commitment to striking a balance between all of SGA’s responsibilities.
Because Regier ran uncontested last year and is already comfortable in this position, we hope that she actually carries out these ideas and continues to bring results to the student body.
EXECUTIVE TREASURER: KYA NICHOLSON
We endorse Kya Nicholson for the uncontested executive treasurer seat. As a senator and member of the finance committee, we believe Nicholson has adequate experience in budgeting and finances to assume this role. We are also glad to see Nicholson recognizes the importance of breaking the Hopkins Bubble and supports using funding to bring students off of Homewood Campus.
In her platform, Nicholson emphasizes ease of accessing funds for student organizations. She hopes to implement status updates to inform students of where funds are allocated. We fully support this initiative, especially given the recent miscommunication on club finances at the last SGA meeting.
If she is elected, we hope that she prioritizes increasing workflow efficiency for student groups to receive funding. During our interview, Nicholson outlined a plan to shift toward event-based funding for student groups. While this may be beneficial, we hope that funding continues to be distributed equitably and adequately to all groups who need it.