Student Association (SA) E-Board candidates gathered on Wednesday to share their platforms one last time before the upcoming elections.
Held in Lecture Hall 1, the debate featured 15 candidates running for their respective E-Board positions. Each candidate was allowed a three minute introductory period, followed by a question-and-rebuttal period, followed by concluding remarks.
The debate began with introductory statements from the SA presidential candidates, the first being Samantha Carroll, a junior majoring philosophy, politics and law. Carroll emphasized that her experience as an elected representative for students, particularly as the only candidate that has served in an SA E-Board position, made her the most qualified for the position.
“The SA president is the primary advocate for the student body to the administration, and for that reason it is vital that I am constantly available to field students’ concerns,” Carroll said. “One way I will ensure that this happens is by initiating frequent SA town halls where students can address myself and other members of E-Board in-person, face-to-face, with their issues.”
Nia Johnson, a junior majoring in human development, spoke next. Johnson said her drive and passion will elevate the SA presidential position and makes her the best advocate for students. She described her platform as centering around normalizing mental health conversations, mandating sexual assault training on campus and connecting students of color to faculty of color.
Ethan Kesler, a sophomore majoring in business administration, presented after Johnson. Accountability, accessibility and availability were the primary platforms of his “A+ prophecy.” To tackle the mental health crisis on campus, Kesler said he plans to implement his “Hug-A-Homie” initiative, aiming to foster a more comfortable campus environment.
The last SA presidential candidate was Galileo Savage, a sophomore majoring in political science. When asked what he plans to do differently than the current SA president, Savage said he would be more involved in organizations on campus.
“I’d like to be a leader who is not only present through [the] internet, but also present physically, and there 24/7, or as often as I can be, and understanding that in creating a relationship with the community on a personal level,” Savage said.
The vice president for finance (VPF) segment began with candidate Daniel Croce, a sophomore majoring in business administration. Croce described his platform as consisting of transparency, clarity, efficiency and advocacy. He was followed by Luke Savinetti, a sophomore double-majoring in philosophy, politics and law, who advocated for increased education of treasurers in student government.
“If you serve on a council for any hall government, any community government, any different organization run by the SA, and you have any familiarity with finances, you know that there is no adequate education for SA treasurers and I am going to change this,” Savinetti said.
For vice president for student success (VPSS), Luca Cassidy, an undeclared freshman, faced off against Anindya Debnath, also an undeclared freshman.
“Public service runs deep inside my blood, which is why I am running for the SA,” Debnath said. “I am very much pissed off because I see that we have an SA that is not serving its students.”
Candidates for SA vice president for multicultural affairs (VPMA) spoke next. Aaron Berkowitz, a junior majoring in art history, said his experience as VPMA of Windham Hall and constituent relations strategist in the SA president’s office is what will make action in the VPMA office possible.
“I think it’s important for me, as VPMA, to invite all community leaders, organizations and students themselves, to tell me how they want to be represented,” Berkowitz said. “For them to put on their own events and share their own culture and their own identity in a way that they see fit and they see best.”
VPMA candidate Erica Juarez, a sophomore majoring in human development, followed. The three pillars of her platform were communication, organization and belonging. To promote interrelations between cultural organizations, Juarez said she plans on creating stronger outreach and mutual support through a VPMA newsletter and an improvement of communication between residential communities and dining halls.
The only candidate for vice president for programming (VPP) was Jocelyn Phipps, a junior double-majoring in political science and sociology. When asked how she plans to promote student attendance at events, Phipps said she would seek to improve outreach by tabling, announcing events and working with administration.
The last SA E-Board position was BU Council representative, with Avery Benzaken, a senior majoring in economics, presenting first — followed by Jonah Thomas, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering.
When asked how he would work with the administration to promote diversity on campus, Thomas described the contrast between the numbers of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) students and the numbers of BIPOC faculty, and said he would meet with administration and student organizations to alleviate the issue.
“Something that we need to consider as well is that our staff and our faculty needs to be reflective of those same things,” Thomas said. “The University has, in more recent years, not been able to meet their goals with respect to increasing the amount of BIPOC leaders of staff and faculty. More pressingly, we’ve actually seen a decrease and a significant drop-off within those margins.”
In his response to the same question, Benzaken said he planned on fostering connections with students.
“I think one of the biggest things as a student representative is making sure you are going to the necessary bodies that represent those students and making sure that you are meeting with those students regularly so you’re gathering the information — whether that’s multicultural orgs on campus which meet once a month, the VPMA or also meeting with the diversity chairs like [Thomas] mentioned, but it’s really just about making sure you’re meeting one-on-one with those students.”
Following the conclusion of the debate, a period of time was allotted for residential communities to discuss their endorsements with their members, representatives and constituents, due to the SA by noon March 3. The SA elections will be held on March 9, more information can be found on the Student Association website.