SGA Candidates Face Off Ahead of Election


Photo Courtesy of Emma Carmody.

On Feb. 21, the 2019 SGA Vice-Presidential and Presidential Debate was held in Kelley Auditorium. The candidates took the opportunity to outline their plans for the upcoming year and make their case for why they would be the best person for the job. While many positions had only one candidate running unopposed, several had two candidates campaigning for the vote.

First up were the candidates for the Vice President of Student Organizations. The two candidates debating were Ella Dotson and Jacob Neal. Both spoke about the importance of improving the connection between SGA and CSOs on campus. Dotson mentioned that she has noticed that SGA makes a lot of decisions about CSOs without those CSO members and leaders involved. She said that this is one of the main things that she would like to focus on changing if elected. Neal also spoke about the importance of improving the transparency and easing the financial burden placed on CSOs.

Vice President of International Affairs was the next debated position. The two candidates running were Zainab Alramadhan and Hee Jae Choi. When speaking about her main goals, Choi said that she would focus on the academics and financial concerns of international students. She would make sure that students coming to SLU with English as their second language are supported in the classroom and able to adjust to a new learning environment. She also stated that she would make sure that international students have equal opportunities to find jobs on campus.

Alramadhan said that his main goals would be to help create regular meetings between leaders of international and cultural CSOs, where they could meet and discuss how they can support international students. He also discussed having more international options at the dining hall, and making sure that international students have enough time to take advantage of those options.

The next contested position was the role of Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. The two candidates debating were Shreya Dash and Marissa Ornelas.

Dash spoke about the importance of making sure that identity and diversity groups on campus are able to access the resources they need from the Diversity and Leadership Cabinet. She stated that one of her main goals for the year would be to “emphasize pride and identity through education.” Dash’s main emphasis would beto help the university become more educated on different cultures and to help bring resources that would foster that education to the SLU Community.

Ornelas stated that she wanted to be an “adequate representative for all marginalized groups,” and that she hoped to restructure the diversity and inclusion at SLU. She said that she feels that the campus is lacking in diversity programming and visibility for students that need it.

Both candidates were asked about their plans to assist undocumented SLU students. In response, Dash said that she feest it is important to reach out to the students affected and make sure that she herself is listening and learning about what SGA can do for undocumented students on campus.

Ornelas said that working with undocumented students is something she would focus on, and that she wants to create a scholarship base for students where they would not need to state that they are American citizens, along with creating more resources and safe spaces for undocumented students on campus. She hopes to make legal services and citizenship classes more accessible as well.

The final debate of the evening was the Presidential debate. The two candidates running were Maleah Fallahi and Shanaya Shah.

Fallahi said that her main goals are to “prioritize students, increase emphasis on the Oath of Inclusion, and increasing communication [between students, faculty, and staff].” She said that she realizes how necessary it is to improve the “behind the scenes” systems of SGA that many students aren’t even aware of.

Shah summed up her main objectives with three words: “Acting, Empowering, Engaging.” She said that she wants to empower students by taking advantage of SGA’s “shared governance” with the SLU administration and by bringing resources to the students. She also placed a heavy emphasis on accessibility, saying that students should have around the clock access to places like the BSC, because it is a student space, and that accessibility to all of campus should be made easier.

Both candidates spoke about how they would ensure representation for non-traditional students as well. Fallahi said that she wants to make sure groups, such as commuter students, are able to have spaces and to make those places as personal and accessible to them as possible. She also spoke at length about working with the Veteran’s Student Association, and how important it is to make sure that groups of non-traditional students are able to work with SGA and have accommodations and constant communication.

Shah said that she wants to make sure that she listens to non-traditional students and helps campus become more accessible to students that are not able to work on the traditional SLU student schedule. She also mentioned that she wants to make sure that Student Support Services are advertised to every student who needs it.

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