Elections for the Executive Board of the 2022-23 Student Government Association (SGA) include a single ticket and three independent candidates. For the third year, the Executive Board election will coincide with SGA class council elections. Voting begins on Monday, March 14 and runs through Thursday, March 17.
Like last year, three out of four of the positions are uncontested; however, three different candidates are running for the position of executive president, including junior and current Executive Vice President Breanna Soldatelli, junior and current Executive Treasurer Karen He and junior Raymond Perez.
On a ticket, sophomore Kobi Khong, sophomore Elaina Regier and freshman Kya Nicholson are running for the uncontested positions of executive vice president, executive secretary and executive treasurer, respectively. Khong currently serves as the sophomore class president, Regier as the executive secretary and Nicholson as a freshman class senator.
Race for the Executive Presidency
In an interview with The News-Letter, Soldatelli discussed her platform running for executive president.
Soldatelli has two years of experience on the Executive Board and was the freshman class president. She believes that this governing experience is necessary for the position of executive president and gives her an advantage in being able to oversee the functioning of the senate. Her platform this year contains points from her previous elections, including sustainability, accountability and communication.
According to Soldatelli, working directly with the current president has given her connections with the University administration that she feels can improve efficiency and communication, something she admits SGA has had issues with.
“There's a difference between being loud and being able to effectively communicate. A big part of communication is also listening,” she said. “I used to be a leader who would lead from the front only and I wanted to be very hands on and in charge of everything constantly. And my experience in SGA has taught me that sometimes you need to lead from the middle or lead from the back and make sure you're giving other people chances to take over leadership roles and that you're monitoring as much as necessary and that kind of thing.”
Soldatelli has worked with the Students for Environmental Action to help design its sustainable fashion show and connected it with the Committee on Health, Safety and Sustainability. She is also working with the Baltimore community to limit food waste and encourage students to shop at the farmers market.
Soldatelli emphasized that she wants the Hopkins student body to know that SGA is there for it.
“We're not just there doing things to represent the student body. We're there specifically to do things that students want,” she said.
Soldatelli also questioned what the student body at Hopkins wants from its president. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments.
The second candidate for the executive president position on SGA is He. She has previously served as freshman and sophomore class senator and the chair of the Finance Committee.
In an email to The News-Letter, He emphasized the importance of students finding their communities on campus, crediting her own positive experience at Hopkins to the student organizations she has joined.
“I want other students to be able to find their community on campus, and I think as representatives of the student body, we are ultimately striving to improve student life so people can get the best college experience possible,” she wrote. “I believe the biggest actionable change that SGA can make that will have a direct impact on students is the betterment of student organizations.”
He explained that when a student organization gets SGA recognition, it is automatically eligible for semester allocations, making it infeasible for SGA to accept every organization due to financial constraints. She said that she is currently working with others to change the process by making semester allocations “opt in.” This will put the focus on event funding grants and allow SGA to approve more organizations.
She emphasized that her platform is focused on increasing community engagement. She hopes to expand on existing student transportation to fund trips to Baltimore locations to increase understanding of the culture in the surrounding communities. Additionally, she will partner with student organizations that focus on community outreach programs, using SGA resources to encourage student participation, helping both the student organization and the greater community.
He also mentioned the pandemic’s effect on student learning and SGA’s responsibility to allow students to feel supported and heard in their needs.
“One example is allowing for students to be able to attend in hybrid, one because we have been online for so long, and two sometimes students have outstanding circumstances in which they cannot attend in person,” she wrote. “Online recordings should also exist because it is a helpful resource for students to use to study and to learn the content rather than just having one exposure to the material from the professor.”
He has been a part of SGA for three years and she believes her existing relationship with the administration will aid in her ability to coordinate meetings with the administration to address student concerns and initiatives.
The third candidate for executive president is Perez. Perez does not currently serve in SGA but is president of the College Democrats of Maryland. In an email to The News-Letter, Perez discussed his platform and why he is running for executive president.
Perez commented that he would be bringing a fresh perspective to SGA, having not previously served, and that the combined experience of the board will allow him to see things he might not at the moment.
“I have worked with the administration before on education policy in other capacities — so I’m not a complete unknown,” he wrote.
Perez’s platform has three goals: recovery from the pandemic, dining-dollar reform and student democracy. He also added that SGA transparency can be improved, citing his proposal for a weekly Instagram post where students can see what is happening in the community and in SGA, arguing that the Hopkins SGA account can be used in a better way. He claimed that the Committee on Internal Affairs must be separate from SGA to ensure accountability.
Perez also critiqued the University administration’s goals, commenting that any private organization aims to cut costs and maximize profits. He argued that administration interests are not aligned with student interests.
“SGA has to expand its power against the wishes of the administration,” he said. “We do not exist because of the administration; we exist because students have the right to representation.”
Khong, Regier and Nicholson’s Platform
Khong, Regier and Nicholson are running on a platform that highlights inclusion and equity, accountability to the student body and ease of registered student organization (RSO) funding.
Khong believes that his experience within SGA as chair of the Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American Caucus and the Civic Engagement Committee as well as outside of SGA as a student representative for the Hopkins Alumni Council and the Student Engagement Board for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute qualifies him to be executive vice president.
As the director of advocacy for the Multicultural Leadership Council under the Office Multicultural Affairs and the director of campus engagement for the Inter-Asian Council, Khong emphasized in an email to The News-Letter the importance of creating spaces where students feel comfortable in their own identities.
“One of the ways we hope to do this is through having diversity and training education programs not only for students but also for faculty,” he wrote. “Our time in the classroom makes up a bulk of our day and there is no reason that any student should fear being targeted based on their identity be it due to race, disability, sexuality or anything else.”
In thinking about accountability and transparency, Khong said that he would like SGA to broadcast its failures as well as its successes. He felt as if many of the senators and SGA worked hard behind the scenes to try to keep fall break days and implement a tuition reduction plan for spring of 2021; however, they were not able to get their plans approved by the administration.
“To the student body it looks like SGA did nothing, and it definitely has an impact on everyone’s perspective of SGA and it makes sense from what students can see. I think showing more of SGA through this light would help in transparency and to build trust,” he wrote.
Regier, also vice chair of the disability caucus, is running for reelection. They served previously as a freshman class senator, are a member of the Hispanic/Latinx Caucus and led the pronoun pins project in the women and gender minorities caucus. She highlighted the importance of accountability and transparency.
A few ways that Regier wants to improve accountability include updating the work log regularly, posting more information about what SGA is and making sure all SGA members are on the same page.
“In addition to what we’re currently doing on the SGA Instagram, we’re sending a comprehensive update of our work in the past month in our monthly emails. One thing I’m implementing this year is a page on our website that compiles the work log into projects rather than being individually based,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
Nicholson is running for the position of executive treasurer as part of a ticket with Khong and Regier.
“Working as a class council member planning different events and also being on the Finance Committee, I became very familiar with SGA’s monetary system,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Often I have to reach out to the current executive treasurer for clarification, and as a result, I have seen firsthand the many changes necessary.”
Nicholson wants to slightly restructure the process of obtaining funds for RSOs, and based on feedback from clubs, she would send a bimonthly update email to student organization treasurers of what SGA finance has been doing regarding RSOs to improve communication.
“One of the most pressing issues is the lack of motivation from students. Hopkins can be draining at times and student organizations serve as an outlet for that — so in giving these organizations funding they serve to treat students with engaging in their culture or exploring their creative outlet,” she wrote.
Regarding transparency and accountability, Nicholson hopes to continue with what the freshman class council has been doing. She highlighted how Regier is planning on expanding the SGA Instagram account to share ideas on what else to add.
Correction: The previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Regier currently serves as executive treasurer.
The News-Letter regrets this error.