The Outsider Running In: An Interview with Presidential Candidate, Thomas Lally
On the fourth straight day of rain in St. Louis, I meet presidential candidate, Thomas Lally, on the first floor of the Pius library near Einstein’s Bagel Co. Although Einstein’s is closed, the lingering smell of coffee and old books permeates the room. We sit down at a table with a television projecting a loud war movie behind us, making both of us laugh at its obnoxious volume.
Thomas explains to me he’s a junior double-majoring in Business and Accounting in the newly renamed, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business, through a grin. As the conversation continues, he describes to me the legacy that SLU holds in his family, with his father and grandfather both attending the school before him. Thomas grew up on Billiken basketball games and deeply believes that SLU has impacted him in ways even he can’t understand. This early exposure to SLU’s culture has provided him with the basis of his campaign. Thomas explains that he is “immensely passionate about the student experience at Saint Louis University” but that his journey coming to SLU was interesting in its beginning stages. He reveals to me that Saint Louis wasn’t his first-choice university and adamantly entered his freshman year hoping to be in a different place by the following year. But as he became more acquainted with the school, he found his friends, his family here at SLU. This ironic freshman experience has deeply impacted his reason for running for President of SGA.
He passionately describes to me that he understands that some people cannot say they think of SLU as their home, but he desires to change that in any way he can. His ultimate goal for students is for each of them to want to be here, to want to come here and Thomas believes that starts with making communities accessible and available for everyone. While he recognizes that not everyone finds their niche so early in their college experience, he eagerly expresses his love for RHA he discovered his first year. He hopes to have clubs and places for all people and to create spaces for those who feel like their community isn’t represented or available to them. Through SGA’s major impact on campus, Thomas believes that they can truly create this environment where people feel welcome and at home and can discover who they are.
As president, he wants to allow a space for other students to “take the wheel” when they feel their leadership can’t fully represent their needs and to really listen to student’s changing values. Thomas explains to me that while he recognizes his lack of specific SGA experience, he can bring in an outsider’s perspective and “question more about why we’re doing things the way we are.” I finish our conversation asking him why SLU students should care about who represents them as president of SGA, and he ardently implores students to vote, referencing the recent US presidential election and the overarching unhappiness of the outcome. Thomas explains, “If you are not voting, than you are not taking that initiative, you are not being represented by people that you know have your back, by people who are willing to listen.”