Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 21, 2024

Our 2024–2025 SGA Exec. Board endorsements: An election for the indecisive

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | March 9, 2024

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If you haven’t noticed yet from the many posters around campus or the flurry of social media activity, it is officially time to elect our student government representatives for the next year. The Student Government Association (SGA) elections are set for March 11 and 12, and positions range from class senators to the Executive Board. 

In contrast to last year’s election, all candidates running for the Executive Board have prior SGA experience. We are optimistic that this institutional knowledge of how SGA functions will enable effective governance and recognition of the limitations of SGA. 

Yet, we’re disappointed to see a relative lack of interest in the Executive Board positions. While 10 students competed for five positions in last year’s elections, this year, there are only seven candidates. Further, three of the elections are uncontested. SGA voter turnout has historically been low, and we as students feel less inclined to vote when the majority of positions are uncontested. 

Upon interviewing the SGA Executive Board candidates, The News-Letter endorses the following: Stone Meng for executive president, Amy Li for executive vice president, Tim Huang for chair of programming and Buse Koldas for executive secretary.

Executive president 

We endorse sophomore Stone Meng for the position of SGA president. Meng currently serves as his class president, a position he has held for two years.

Meng has been involved in several initiatives during his time as class president, including playing a central role in making iClicker free by meeting with administrators to implement the policy. He has also successfully helped expand the Meals-in-a-Minute options and is currently fighting for the return of Brody Learning Commons bathroom paper towels. 

Meng’s platform proposes a tuition reduction based on the impending closure of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library (MSE) for renovations. While we have doubts about the feasibility of this initiative, Meng’s actions have demonstrated his concern for students’ day-to-day experiences and his commitment to campus improvement. 

Another of his campaign promises is to decrease the bureaucracy of SGA and improve transparency. He claims that SGA is too focused on internal structure, and he hopes to improve existing positions rather than create new offices. We agree with this sentiment and support his goal to streamline SGA. We also appreciate Meng’s concrete policy proposals, including the creation of department-specific liaisons — staffed by existing senators — and the implementation of a public spreadsheet with senator achievements. 

Currently, Meng is involved in a survey collecting student input on transportation. He plans to advocate for increased funding to expand shuttle routes and improve the timeliness of the University’s transportation. Meng’s track record for creating change over the past two years is encouraging, and we hope that he will utilize the position of SGA president to make these goals a reality. 

Meng is facing Tyler Turner, a sophomore currently serving as the Black caucus senator. We respect Turner’s passion for mental health, especially his acknowledgment of its connection with the closure of MSE. However, we found that his goals focused more on programming than policy. 

Executive vice president 

We endorse sophomore Amy Li for the position of executive vice president. Li is currently serving as the student body secretary, and she previously served as a freshman class senator. 

Li is running on a ticket with Meng and Tim Huang — a candidate for chair of programming. 

As a result, her platform also focuses on obtaining a tuition reduction due to the concurrent closure of MSE and construction of the Student Center in the next academic year. 

Like Meng, Li has helped make iClicker free for students and expanded meal options in the dining hall. In addition, Li is in discussion with library administrators to make more study spaces available on campus next year while MSE is under renovation. 

Another concern of the student body is the strained relationship between students and Leadership Engagement and Experiential Development (LEED). If elected, Li will aim to implement structural reforms to improve the relationship between SGA, students and LEED. We appreciate her recognition of this issue and hope that she will be able to implement a concrete plan to achieve this. 

Li’s past experiences in governance make her a promising candidate for SGA vice president. We hope that her work in multiple branches of SGA, including the Senate and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) Curriculum Committee, translates to a strong understanding of the structure of SGA. We are also encouraged by Li’s involvement with the Mayor Youth Engagement Council in her hometown and hope that this passion for local governance translates into a genuine concern for improving the experience of the Hopkins student body.

The other candidate for this position is junior Nasreen Naqvi, who has previously served as freshman class senator, president of the senate, chair of Academic Affairs and senator for Religious and Spiritual Life. While Naqvi’s involvement over the years shows that she is committed and passionate about SGA, Li articulated a more specific vision for the role of vice president. 

Executive secretary 

For the uncontested position of executive secretary, we endorse freshman Buse Koldas. In her current role as assistant secretary, she works closely with the executive secretary and is therefore familiar with the responsibilities of the position. We are particularly impressed with her creation of a spreadsheet to organize SGA’s ongoing initiatives and believe it is proof of her leadership and organizational planning.

Further, Koldas has many creative ideas to improve SGA and campus as a whole, including providing summaries after each meeting, making required academic applications free and holding meet-and-greets to increase voter turnout in SGA elections. Even after losing the freshman class presidential election last year, Koldas continued to find ways to be involved with SGA, demonstrating her commitment to the organization. 

Chair of programming

For the uncontested position of chair of programming, we endorse sophomore Tim Huang. Huang is currently serving as a KSAS senator and was involved in the Academic Affairs and finance committees. He has been active in student life and social events, including the creation of the successful JHU Major Fair. Huang was also involved in the implementation of free iClicker for students. These initiatives have demonstrated Huang’s commitment to improving campus life and offering students more engagement opportunities.

Huang promises to clarify LEED’s role — including for budgeting and finance, event scheduling and minimizing conflict — and wishes to act as a liaison between LEED and registered student organizations. We appreciate this proposal and believe that his experience with event planning has prepared him well for this position.

Treasurer

Running unopposed for treasurer is junior Brandon Benjamin. We did not receive a response from Benjamin and therefore cannot endorse him for the position. 

We at The News-Letter wish that there was more interest in the Executive Board elections: Out of an undergraduate population of over 5,000, it is pitiful that only seven are running. Fortunately, many of the candidates we interviewed shared a conviction that SGA needs to change. We hope that next year’s Executive Board will do the necessary work to motivate others to participate in our campus democracy.

Buse Koldas is a Social Media Manager for The News-Letter. She did not contribute to the reporting, writing or editing of this article.


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