SGA rolls out candidates for first-year positions
October 1, 2018
Five freshmen emerged as candidates for the 11 senate seats at Student Government Association’s (SGA) “Meet the Candidates” event on Thursday.
Three candidates, Lenin M. Plazas, Ankit Pal and Maya Tesigni are on the ballot for Senator for First Year Students. The other two candidates in attendance were Misael Alejandro, who is running for Senator for the College of Education, and Samuel Rahman, who is running for Senator for Commuter Students. Alejandro is running unopposed in the election and Rahman is running against David Mechura.
Out of all 11 open positions, just six have students vying for candidacy. Aside from the three open positions for which students gave speeches, there are only candidates running for Senator for Second Year Students, Senator for Transfer Students and Senator for the Theatre School. Every candidate whose name is on the ballot had to gather 100 signatures from DePaul students on the Petition Candidacy Form. The five seats that will remain unfilled are Senator for Graduate Students, Senator for Fourth and Fifth Year Students, Senator for Veteran Students, Senator for the School of Music, and Senator for the College of Law.
Voting will take place online beginning today until 5 p.m. on Friday.
The event was optional for candidates running and was moderated by SGA’s Vice President, Emily Hoey, in a lecture hall at the Levan Center on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. After each candidate gave his or her speech at the front of the classroom, students in the audience were allowed to question them on their campaign initiatives.
Being a first-year student is a big transition for some DePaul students, so it is now time to introduce the candidates who are running for the Senator for First Year Students.
Lenin M. Plazas
Plazas is a commuter student running his campaign on three platforms. Those platforms are safety, bridging the social gap between students who have a meal plan and those who don’t, and making events on campus more time-friendly for commuters.
“I firmly believe that no one should be scared,” Plazas said when asked about his safety platform that entails proposing the creation of a self-defense club. “No woman has to be scared of being sexually assaulted. No man has to be scared of being jumped in front of his own college.”
Plazas said he feels marginalized as a student without a meal plan and wants to fight for first-year students who are in his same position.
“DePaul has marginalized the students, separated those who are on the meal plan and those who aren’t, and I believe that’s a little hypocritical of DePaul,” he said. “I don’t need the meal plan cause I’m a commuter, but I don’t think that’s fair enough to denyme of service to go into the cafeteria with my friend if I want to talk to them.”
Plazas also wants events on campus to start earlier in the day as opposed to late at night. When asked about the burden of events predominantly being catered to freshmen living in the dorms, Plazas called that a “huge deterrent.”
Pal is running on three main themes: free speech, budget reform and proposing an initiative to reform oversight and accountability. Ensuring that every DePaul student can openly and fairly express their political viewpoints is what hit home for Pal the most.
“Last year the Huffington Post rated DePaul as the worst school for free speech. We want to change that,” Pal said. “We want to get that done where everybody feels at home, everybody has a voice.”
Pal stated that he wants to be known to his freshmen class as a leader who is willing to speak with colleagues all across campus whether it be at the Student Center, the Schmitt Academic Center or going into different classrooms.
“I hope to put my personal views aside cause that’s not what’s important here,” he said. “I want to be able to talk to people and no matter what they believe, or if they disagree or agree with me, I want to be able to talk with them and take their suggestions and put that into the way I do things.”
Not to mention, Pal believes that if elected, he will do his best to “have transparency” with the school’s administration as a means to see where DePaul can make some budget cuts and reduce costs for students.
As a Bay Area native whose family is of Filipino-Chamorro ancestry, Tersigni did not shy away from speaking about promoting diversity on campus.
Above all, Tersigni said that she aspires to begin an annual International Cultural Celebration Event for international and multicultural students by working with DePaul’s Office of Multicultural Student Success. If implemented, this event would likely feature those particular students sharing cultural food while dressing in multicultural attire.
Aside from bringing light to DePaul’s diverse student population, Tersigni expressed concern regarding sexual assault and sexual crime committed to DePaul students. Tersigni wants to make an immediate impact by making self-defense classes at DePaul’s gym for students, the Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center, free of charge through alumni donations. Instructional self-defense classes the facility are $10 according to its website.
“I believe our alumni network at DePaul is extremely strong, and we should use that to our advantage,” Tesigni said. “If we see an issue that needs to be rectified like sexual assault, finding out how to defend ourselves, this is really how to do it.”
Without hesitation, Alejandro dove right into scholarship awareness for students enrolled in the College of Education. As the Senator for the College of Education, he wants to make his classmates’ education affordable.
“I feel that it would be so much more helpful for the students in the College of Education to be aware of these scholarships, to know that they have some options financially to be able to support themselves and to not be constantly stressed about money,” Alejandro said.
Furthermore, Alejandro stressed how competitive the education field is, so he seeks to build community within the college by getting students to build relationships with educators both on campus and in the public school setting.
“In order to be seen as a good educator, it’s all about the impact that you have on your students. So in order to have a good impact on your students, you need to have practice beforehand in order to ensure that you’re doing the correct methods and the correct processes to be able to work with your students.”
As a student commuting from the western Chicagoland suburbs, Rahman finds Metra costs to be somewhat pricey. To resolve this, as the Senator for Commuter Students he wants there to propose some sort of student discount to make the commuting experience less of a financial burden.
Rahman will push for on-campus events and activities to be earlier in the day so that commuters will not have to worry about taking the Metra home late at night.
CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated that the candidate for Senator for Commuter Students is running unopposed. SGA did not inform the DePaulia of a second candidate, David Mechura, who was unable to attend the “Meet the Candidates” event.