President — Emma Ross
Next week, Binghamton University’s undergraduate population will vote for one of three candidates for president of the Student Association (SA). It’s a position that is not as clearly defined as some of the others on the SA Executive Board, and past presidents have made unrealistic promises and spread themselves too thin to accomplish concrete goals. This year, the Editorial Board was looking for someone with clear ideas, a strong sense of the student body’s needs, effective communication skills and transparency.
Therefore, the Editorial Board believes that Emma Ross is the best choice for SA president. Although her platform consists of four major initiatives that cover a lot of ground, we believe that she is focused and organized, and that she possesses the skills and determination to follow through with her promises. Ross’ platform, which includes mental health awareness and outreach, campus accessibility, sexual assault prevention and diversity, equity and inclusion, will bring attention to issues on campus that have been largely overlooked.
Ross acknowledges that mental health services at BU are lacking and wants to work to attain a more appropriate ratio of counselors to students, as well as to expand the alternative mental health services offered, like the High Hopes Helpline. Moreover, her plan to streamline the process of reporting inaccessibility on campus and, in turn, to make campus more accessible for all students, is a necessary part of making BU a more inclusive and safe place.
The Editorial Board was particularly satisfied with Ross’ plan to improve sexual assault prevention programs on campus, which she believes are currently oriented toward bystander intervention rather than prevention and support for survivors. As a former campus coordinator for It’s On Us, she wants to include the organization under the SA president’s jurisdiction, which would allow her to implement their philosophies and introduce an essential part of sexual assault education to BU students. We were also impressed with her plan to communicate more frequently with the student body in addition to regular correspondence through SA-Line, and to hold office hours for students.
Ultimately, we have decided to endorse Ross because her current role as speaker of SA Congress, paired with her experience as manager of new organizations under the executive vice president (EVP) office, have prepared her well for this position. The Editorial Board was less impressed with the platforms of Christopher Li and Arsenije Markicevic, as they seemed vague and did not touch on issues that were as pertinent to student life. We believe that Ross will be the best person to lead and represent the SA in the upcoming academic year.
Executive Vice President — Erin Bishop
Though she is the only candidate running for EVP this year, the Editorial Board believes that Erin Bishop is right for the job. Bishop’s involvement with the SA includes over a year of experience in the EVP office, previously as a training and development intern and currently as the chartering assistant. We believe her experience has allowed her to hone her focus and create sharp initiatives that will benefit the EVP office.
Internally, she has recognized the office’s need to be highly structured and is ready to make the necessary changes, which include increasing communication within both the EVP office and with the SA E-Board as a whole. In her platform, she also emphasized the importance of planning ahead, making semester timelines and creating process maps to run the office effectively, something she believes she has realized the importance of through her current work in the office. She also vocalized her plan to create more internal resources and legacy documents for the office — highly valuable in terms of transferring knowledge to successors in the SA, an organization that inevitably experiences high yearly turnover.
Bishop’s other main emphasis centers around the office’s role as a resource for student leaders on campus, in which she hopes to makes resources more accessible and help develop leadership skills. She plans to do this by improving communication with student groups and increasing the specialization of EVP office advisers who work with student groups, along with creating more accessible resources for them. Student leaders will value her commitment to improving mandatory leadership workshops and making them more beneficial to groups; for example, she voiced her desire to make more field-specific workshops to enhance networking and collaboration among student groups with similar focuses. While we believe that a focus on working with student leaders is essential, we hope that Bishop will also solidify a plan to improve communication with the student body in general. Overall, Bishop’s goals are attainable, with tangible benefits, and her emphasis on strengthening the internal structure of the EVP office shows that she understands where to start in order to make the office as effective as possible in all its other initiatives.
Vice President for Finance — Alec Somerstein
Somerstein is running unopposed, but his platform is solid and we are confident he would be an effective leader in the vice president for finance (VPF) office. His platform focuses on increasing efficiency, outreach and accessibility by emphasizing communication within the SA E-Board, holding weekly workshops and expanding the existing VPF advisers program. He’s also interested in continuing to increase the accessibility of forms for student groups and their treasurers. Although his plans for the VPF office don’t offer many novel concepts, they seem to focus on continuing the work of past VPFs, all of whom have kept the office running smoothly.
Additionally, Somerstein comes with an extensive background in financial leadership. He’s been involved with student government since his freshman year, when he served as FINCO representative for Newing College, and has served as the chair of the SA’s FINCO committee. Currently, he is the VPF of the Off Campus College Council. Clearly, he has experience, and he appears passionate about working with student groups to ensure their needs are met by the VPF office. We believe he can fully accomplish his platform and continue the legacy of solid work in the VPF office.
Vice President for Academic Affairs — John Santare
For a position that has appeared largely detached from the student body, Santare’s plans for vice president for academic affairs (VPAA) seemed to address this significant concern. He intends to drastically improve outreach by maintaining a relationship with academically based clubs, on-campus publications and community liaisons. Additionally, Santare will look to hold monthly academic forums to obtain student feedback.
In terms of qualifications, Santare currently serves as a policy analyst for the VPAA’s office under Doug Wehbe. Santare has experience in technical skills workshops and the student code of conduct. He is also the current vice speaker of SA Congress and the education policy lead of BU’s Roosevelt Institute.
With regard to his platform, Santare considers mental health his highest priority. He wants to explore different avenues for improving University-provided resources as well as improve the current situation of the University Counseling Center by advocating for more counselors, especially those of color.
In sum, Santare has undoubtedly recognized the overt deficiencies that at least partially define the VPAA office. We hope that the next VPAA will be more communicative as well as transparent. Valuing diversity, accessibility, outreach, mental health and student feedback makes Santare seem like the right person for the job.
Vice President for Multicultural Affairs — Khaleel James
Khaleel James has experience, a commitment to transparency and attainable goals, and we believe he is the person for the job of vice president for multicultural affairs (VPMA). James, who has worked in the VPMA office for the past two years and is a member of the Town-Gown Advisory Board, has a realistic platform that prioritizes expanding cultural competency training, providing more outreach for counseling services and partnering with the University’s Division of Equity and Inclusion.
He will continue initiatives that past VPMAs have implemented and seems passionate about the position he is running for, emphasizing the importance of transparency and outreach. He also seems to be committed to communicating student concerns to the University, even when administrators may not be open to feedback. He has a lot to offer the SA E-Board, and we feel he has the potential to be a successful student leader for multicultural issues.
Vice President for Programming — Christopher Wright
For the vice president for programming (VPP) position, the Editorial Board believes Christopher Wright is the ideal candidate. With three years of Student Association Programming Board (SAPB) experience as previous vice chair of concerts committee and current chair of concerts committee, Wright has the knowledge and skills to communicate and understand the needs of BU students.
The main point that stood out to us with Wright’s platform was his emphasis on student-centered programming, which includes reviewing student feedback on who they want to see on the survey and how the SAPB can improve. He also aims to include students in the planning process by creating more opportunities for students to get involved by voicing their opinions. In addition, Wright hopes to diversify student events by holding more open mics, poetry slams and other smaller-scale events beside the fall and spring concerts.
Although the SAPB failed to communicate with students concerning the Fall Concert this year, we believe Wright isn’t wholly to blame. Wright demonstrated commitment to making sure this incident doesn’t happen again by working with the Events Center and being more systematic with providing ticket refunds for students. In addition, Wright is determined to increase organization by creating a more efficient E-Board. This includes holding staff training before the semester begins, holding well-planned events, increasing community with the student body and hitting deadlines further in advance.
In our opinion, Wright is not only committed to improving the current state of the SAPB, but also to effectively communicating with the student body. We are confident that his previous experience working with the SAPB makes him the candidate best fit for VPP.
BU Council Representative — Franklin Richards
Franklin Richards, the current vice president of public relations for the Master of Public Administration Graduate Student Organization, seems like the ideal person to represent students’ concerns to the University administration. In particular, his experience as a resident assistant (RA), coupled with the fact that he is in his fifth year as a BU student, indicates to us that he has a firm grasp on the campus climate and knows how to effectively communicate with students. Richards’ platform includes increasing student knowledge on University policies and decisions; prioritizing safety off campus; expanding mental health resources such as extending resources to the University Downtown Center and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and pushing for the administration to designate counselors as essential personnel so it can hire more staff at the UCC.
Richards’ RA experience indicates that he knows how to work with students through a variety of issues and is up to the task of meeting students where they’re at to have open discussions on their concerns with the University. We see Richards as extremely approachable and enthusiastic to help students in any way he can. He also demonstrated genuine concern about the University’s handling of bias-related incidents on campus and plans to hold administrators accountable so that these incidents don’t get swept under the rug. Our only reservation is whether Richards will be able to effectively push back on administrators to listen to students’ issues, but overall, we feel he has great intentions and is aptly prepared for the position of BU Council representative.
Though we feel Richard Caldicott is highly qualified and had a solid platform, we feel Richards is best equipped to hear students’ concerns, which is ultimately the deciding factor when considering who should represent the student body to administrators.