As the race for next year’s Student Association (SA) E-Board race heats up, every candidate took to the debate stage Tuesday night to discuss their visions for the upcoming academic year.

Students running for one of the seven elected positions — Binghamton University Council representative, vice president for programming (VPP), vice president for multicultural affairs (VPMA), vice president for student success (VPSS), vice president for finance (VPF), executive vice president (EVP) and president — spoke, in that order, about their campaign platforms and took questions from the audience. Held in the Science Library, the debate went from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The debate began with Mackenzie Cooper — the SA Congress’s Financial Committee chair and a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law — who is running unopposed for BU Council representative, a body responsible for supervising certain University operations and advocating for both undergraduate and graduate students. Her platform included improvements to parking that will make the campus more accessible to students and make communication with administration “more easy, transparent and responsive.”

When asked how she plans to bridge the gaps between administration, the SA and the Graduate Student Organization, Cooper said she plans to create an online forum and institute town halls for students to voice their concerns directly to their representatives and administration.

During the audience questioning period, a student asked if she would support SA legislation to divest funds from corporations supplying the Israeli military. This question was posed to multiple candidates and all of them said they were not informed enough to comment.

Next up were candidates for VPP, an office responsible for chairing the SA Programming Board (SAPB) and offering guidance for students planning events. Siriki Doumbia, the assistant director of fundraising and collaborations for the SAPB and a junior majoring in business administration, was the first to speak. He emphasized inclusion and creating comfortable spaces for minority students, assembling a diverse team for his office and working closely with the VPMA’s office to create a student art show that “showcase[s] as many works from different cultures and backgrounds as possible.”

Atticus Fauci, the SAPB’s vice insights chair and a sophomore majoring in economics, described going to SAPB events from the perspective of someone who grew up in Binghamton and expressed his love for their work. To increase sports attendance, he plans to introduce tailgates incorporating food and performances from multicultural organizations to give these groups more exposure.

Ryan Miller, the vice festivals chair for the SAPB and a junior majoring in English, spoke about the need to increase student participation and feedback. She proposed allowing students to have a larger part in event planning as well as creating a suggestion box and holding office hours. Miller also suggested the creation of more events like Battle of the Bands that showcase student’s talents.

The race for VPMA was featured third. Najat Hussein, the current co-projects and programming director for the current VPMA’s office and a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, focused her campaign on expanding resources. Hussein plans to create grants for professional development and provide discounts to underclassmen and transfer students for multicultural events, so that “students do not miss out on great opportunities due to financial constraints.”

Krizia Yao, the VPMA office’s community engagement coordinator and a junior majoring in human development, suggested creating a Discord server to make the multicultural community more accessible to freshmen and transfers, allowing students to share their interests, promote multicultural events and connect. Yao wants to continue programs to help low-income students of color graduate on time, including allowing them “ghost credits.”

“If [Residential Life] staff, athletes and scholars can get those credits and have an early registration time, [first-generation and low-income] students of color should be able to as well,” Yao said.

The race for VPSS saw the incumbent — Luca Cassidy, a junior double-majoring in economics and sociology — going up against Jules Verrino, the VPSS office’s programming lead and a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and the current VPSS programming lead. Cassidy emphasized some initiatives he put forth this year, including the Plan B Vending machine — coming at the end of the semester — creating a Title IX advocacy program and advocating for mental health on campus.

Verrino, who serves on the Student Life and Academics Committee (SLA), expressed her passion for mental health, having experienced anxiety herself. She also mentioned that she teaches cooking classes through the VPSS office and would like to expand that to “give students more healthy food options and also introduce them to life skills.”

“I’m very straightforward, [and] very analytical,” Verrino said. “As an engineer, of course, I just want to solve problems and be very transparent and open about everything.”

The candidates for VPF, an office in charge of implementing financial policies and procedures, are Jonathan Gee, a junior double-majoring in integrative neuroscience and economics and Caitlin McMahon, a junior majoring in accounting. Gee, currently the executive director for the ESCAPE bus service explained that his three central campaign focuses are effectiveness, communication and inclusivity.

McMahon, the vice president for internal development of the Finance Society, mentioned approachability, responsibility, efficiency and transparency as the pillars of her campaign.

“Being a part of the student organization and being a part of all of these organizations have genuinely changed the trajectory of the rest of my life,” McMahon said in her opening statement. “And this is why I want to be the vice president of finance. I believe that I can make a change and many changes through my platform.”

Batia Rabin, the current SA Congress Internal Affairs Committee chair and a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law, is running unopposed for EVP. She outlined three goals in their platform, including increasing storage space for student organizations, more transparency and efficiency and moving UFest to Sundays to make it easier for observing Jewish students to participate.

The race for president brought three candidates to the podium — Chance Fiorisi, a junior majoring in political science, Christopher Ribaric, a junior majoring in accounting and McKenzie Skrastins, a sophomore majoring in mathematical sciences.

Fiorisi, the current EVP, emphasized his desire to codify a President’s Council, where he would be meeting with different student organizations and hearing their concerns, as well as the need for sexual assault oversight and stressed the importance of the president’s openness with the student body.

“That’s extremely important — openness and community building is great,” Fiorisi said. “What also needs to happen is a reassurance that when something’s wrong, we need to finally speak about it. When the administration does something that hurts students, I will be open to you guys to have suggestions to do what we need.”

When asked about specific initiatives they have helped to push through, Skrastins, who is currently the chief of staff for Elisheva Ezor, the current SA president and a senior double-majoring in mathematical sciences and business administration, highlighted her role in helping students observing Black Solidarity Day. She said that she wants to “break the barrier” between the students and the SA by continuing Ezor’s Fireside Chat initiative.

“I want to make our town hall once a month, and I want to cultivate an atmosphere and a space for clubs and students to be able to come and speak to the [SA] directly,” Skrastins said. “The main role of the president is advocacy. The president is a liaison between the students and the administration.”

Ribaric said that many students view the SA as “people in suits” who are “out of touch with the needs of the student body.” He said that approachability is an important trait in a president, so that he can foster conversation with all students, calling for a “large reconciliation between the student body, multicultural organizations and the presidency.”

Benjamin So, the chair of the SA Elections and Judiciary Committee and a senior double-majoring in history and philosophy, politics and law, described the annual candidate debate’s impact on the broader elections process.

“It allows students and organizations to learn about each candidate’s platform and gives them the opportunity to ask any questions they have before students vote this Sunday,” So wrote in an email. “For student organizations looking to endorse, the debate is crucial.”