VP Candidates Share Their Platforms


Rebecca LiVigni

VP Material: Candidates at the debate wait to give their speeches.

Feb. 15 marked the first of two 2018 SGA debates as prospective student voters gathered in Anheuser-Busch Auditorium in Cook Hall at 7 p.m. Twelve candidates running for VP of either Academic Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion, Finance, Internal Affairs, International Affairs and Student Organizations held the floor and stressed the importance of communication, transparency and chiseling barriers separating students from other students or students from their professors.

Running for VP of Student Organizations, Maleah Fallahi and Alana Janssen were first on the floor and emphasized a need to better support established and upcoming organizations.

“I’ve been able to talk to a few different student organizations on campus, and the main things that I have seen that they need are more areas of communication,” Janssen said.

By improving her own contact and those of others within SGA, Janssen added that the student organizations will be at ease with knowing they are listened to.

Fallehi, who is studying abroad, Skyped into the debate. Her platform consisted of reforming Leaders of the Pack by remodeling the information on SLU Groups and the SGA website, reforming leadership transitions to better accommodate groups that change in the fall and furthering outreach through increased presence at student organizational events.

Amanda Buechele, also abroad, and Puja Patel are running for VP of Finance. Buechele’s goals included aiding the financial process for student groups by streamlining how they can best utilize their money and promoting collaboration between SGA and the organizations. Specifically focusing on social justice during the debate, Buechele also elaborated on her role of creating opportunities to improve knowledge and promote outreach in relation to economic justice in St. Louis.

Patel prioritized a need for increased communication between Chartered Student Organizations, also known as CSOs, and the committees.

“Currently, we just fund students based on a 10- to 15-minute funding hearing,” Patel said. “That’s not the most effective way to hear about what a student organization does so we can best support them.”

Her solution is to use the finance committee and finance cabinets to help student groups receive proper funding and make adjustments as needed for future budgets. She also looks to improve knowledge about wellness funding and how to receive it.

Running for VP of Internal Affairs as the only candidate, Chandler Beck spoke next and explained himself as “the guy who sends out your mailers and spams your inboxes.” Currently, Beck sends emails to the student body regarding SGA events, and he sees communication as the primary goal of this position.

“We have been refining our SGA brand as well,” Beck said. “Our new motto that we wrote out this year is ‘a resource and a voice for all SLU students.’”

He elaborated that if communication is not clear, it will not be effective. Therefore, through concise language, he promises he will easily convey information to students.

VP of Diversity and Inclusion candidates, Nina Oforji and George Tharp, took their platforms and opening statements in different directions: If elected, Oforji explained she will monitor the progress of the Clock Tower Accords and develop a mentorship program to instill a comfortable transition for students within their first year at SLU; Tharp’s opening statement addressed the need for honesty in a campaign and diversity taking the form of love, even when adversity is looking love in the face. The third VP of Diversity and Inclusion candidate, Jemar Perry, was not present.

Next in the debate, international students Angela Gomez and Sergio Bernabeu explained their own struggles as non-native American students on SLU’s campus. Both running for VP of International Affairs, Gomez and Bernabeu have experienced difficulties transitioning to the United States, finding employment and receiving a generous scholarship fund.

Speaking on behalf of all international students, Gomez said, “We don’t have a lot of scholarship opportunities because we don’t have FAFSA, so I want to create a new scholarship that will involve incoming students because there are a lot of students from other countries who want to study in the U.S.”

Similar to Gomez, Bernabeu wants to make scholarships available for international students as they are supplied with limited financial aid. One frustration he has encountered is that not all of the classes taken abroad have their credits transferred to the main campus, so Bernabeu’s goal is to create true cohesion between all the SLU campuses and partnering universities.

The last speakers of the night included Jordan Glassman and Antonia Simpson, both candidates running for VP of Aca- demic Affairs. Highlighting the “gaps” they see within the SLU community among professors and students, Glassman and Simpson addressed the fear students have to speak out against professors who use racist and homophobic dialogue.
When asked about goals of their campaigns, Simpson addressed that there are not enough resources for incoming students to succeed. She promises to improve this problem and foster safe spaces for students.

Glassman is currently working to develop a platform with the Title IX office to address situations in which students do not feel comfortable in the classroom. Under the platform, students can report the situation safely and anonymously.

“We want student voices,” Simpson said. To support student voice, she and all other candidates mentioned, though in some cases briefly, that SGA should listen and respond. It is “a resource and a voice for all SLU students.”