Every year, Pipe Dream’s E-Board interviews every candidate on the ballot for the following year’s Student Association (SA) leadership and Binghamton University Council representative. Each candidate had the opportunity to discuss their platform, answer questions and share why they feel deserving of students’ votes.

For objectivity, Pipe Dream E-Board members with personal connections with interviewing candidates are not present for their interviews and do not have a say in the endorsement process. After these conversations, our E-Board has decided to endorse the following candidates.

To read the candidate profiles, see our SA election page here.

President — McKenzie Skrastins

With an impressive combination of compassion, dedication and experience, McKenzie Skrastins, a sophomore majoring in mathematics, was our unanimous choice to be next year’s Student Association president. Her strong platform and clear vision for the role of the president set her apart from her opponents, and we feel confident in her ability to lead the SA.

Skrastins emerged as the clear frontrunner largely because of her experience serving as the chief of staff to Elisheva Ezor — the current president and a senior double-majoring in mathematics and business administration — a role that has given her insight into the inner workings of the office. Though she has spent the past seven-and-a-half months shadowing Ezor, Skrastins demonstrated a clear grasp over her own platform, which includes strong advocacy for students to administrators.

Her plan to help students take a day off without academic repercussions to celebrate cultural holidays unrecognized by the University is rooted in her existing work in the president’s office, where she helped Black students observing Black Solidarity Day. Her platform, which also included creating diversity, equity and inclusion panels during Admitted Students Day and freshman orientation, collaborating with University offices in support of student mental health and breaking the information barrier between the SA and students, seem within the scope and power of the office.

We are confident that she will continue Ezor’s work, while spearheading new initiatives and forcefully advocating for students. We also appreciated her asking our E-Board what we wanted to see changed, clearly demonstrating an ability to listen, aggregate student perspectives and be a president for all students.

While Chance Fiorisi, the current executive vice president (EVP) and a junior majoring in political science, should have been the race’s frontrunner given his extensive student government experience, our E-Board found his platform lacking in creativity. Though we agreed with his assessment that the SA president should remain objective when mediating conflict on campus, as well as his plan to bring student voices directly to University President Harvey Stenger, we wish he had a more optimistic approach — instead of a focus on perceived current shortcomings — a critical element for the face and primary representative of the SA.

We found Christopher Ribaric, a junior majoring in accounting, to be similarly focused on where the SA can make mistakes, instead of the positive change its leaders can bring to students. He expressed grievances toward this year’s SA E-Board, and we feel his extensive time in SA Congress — and a lack of executive experience — do not suit the unique needs of the SA presidency. His goals of increasing transparency are noble, but we feel he lacks the creative vision to advocate for students on issues that matter.

Executive Vice President – Batia Rabin

While Batia Rabin, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law, is running for EVP unopposed, we feel confident that she will be a strong fit for the position. At the moment, Rabin serves as the Internal Affairs Committee chair, which has provided them with the experience that is necessary to become the next EVP. In her current role, Rabin has worked closely with student organizations to meet their needs along with working with clubs looking to be chartered.

Rabin has conveyed that as EVP, one of their main goals is to help student organizations get revamped storage and space allocation. We see this as realistic and strongly needed as there are lockers in storage rooms and spaces within the union that are underutilized and disorganized. Along with this, she proposes adding more shelves to utilize the vertical space which will lead to more efficient use of storage spaces, which we absolutely stand behind.

Moreover, Rabin also promises greater transparency along with increased and faster communication from within the SA office. They assert that this will come in the form of weekly update emails and faster email responses to address concerns, which is something that we believe is crucial to ensuring better relations with the student body.

Additionally, Rabin also mentions that another plan of her own is to move UFest to Sunday, as this would allow observing Jewish students to participate. While Rabin expressed hesitation in this plan’s feasibility, this would be an important change, and we support the endeavor.

All in all, we feel as though Rabin’s knowledge about the issues surrounding student organizations and her desire for greater transparency and communication will make her a more than capable EVP for the 2024-25 academic year.

Vice President for Finance – Caitlin McMahon

Pipe Dream has confidence in endorsing Caitlin McMahon, a junior majoring in accounting, for vice president for finance (VPF). While Jonathan Gee’s, a junior double-majoring in integrative neuroscience and economics, passion for the role is admirable, McMahon is better prepared for taking on the responsibilities that come with the VPF position. McMahon possesses specific and concrete plans if elected VPF, a wealth of past experience in leadership and finance and a strong commitment to the needs of the student body.

One of McMahon’s most impressive plans is her prepaid cards initiative. With the aim of lifting the financial burden from students for SA-related purchases, McMahon’s plan would expand upon Daniel Croce’s form, designed for online or travel purchases, and implement an SA debit card for in-store purchases. While McMahon still has to iron out the details of ensuring whether this would be attainable, the plan demonstrates her willingness to generate practical, forward-thinking solutions.

McMahon also possesses applicable leadership experience and direct professional experience as the communication services sector head of Binghamton Investment Fund and Head Assistant to the VPF. Her extensive knowledge of the VPF office, business and finance as a result of these leadership roles gives Pipe Dream the confidence that she will serve as an effective leader. While Gee also contributed valuable leadership as executive director of the ESCAPE bus company and the treasurer of the Bowling Club, McMahon demonstrated a greater level of preparation for serving as VPF.

Furthermore, McMahon expresses clear concern and commitment to the student body through not only her four pillars of approachability, responsibility, efficiency and transparency, but also her commitment to facilitating dialogue and cross-functional decision making processes to reflect the needs of all stakeholders. As opposed to Gee’s plan to continue his involvement with other extracurriculars if elected to VPF, McMahon’s willingness to step down and back from her current extracurricular leadership roles is likely to ensure her full commitment to serving the needs of the student body.

Vice President for Multicultural Affairs – Krizia Yao

This endorsement was a very difficult decision, as both Krizia Yao, a junior majoring in human development, and Najat Hussein, a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, are great candidates for this position. Both recognize important issues that need to be addressed and have the experience necessary to make good change. However, Yao’s ideas and plans of execution give her the edge, and Pipe Dream feels she would be the best fit for the vice president for multicultural affairs (VPMA) role.

Yao has very specific goals and was able to identify direct courses of action she will take to achieve these. One of Yao’s goals is to bridge the gap between multicultural organizations, and she wants to set up a Discord server in order to foster communication and relationships between them. She also plans to automate the multicultural calendar through Google Sheets to make it easier and more sustainable. Furthermore, she wants to spread knowledge about multicultural organizations on campus through actions, like introduction videos on B-Engaged and monthly organization spotlights. Lastly, she plans to develop a more robust alumni network, publicize the emergency fund for students and get ghost credits for students from low-income or first-generation backgrounds.

Yao’s experiences working with the current VPMA give us confidence in her ability to execute these ideas during her tenure — especially since some of these actions she is already working on, like the ghost credits. Her passion for this work was clear during her interview, and we know she will work hard in this position. When Yao ran for this position last year, Pipe Dream recognized her good ideas, specificity and drive, and now feel she is ready to be VPMA for the upcoming year.

Hussein is a very strong candidate as well, and her ideas address important issues and challenges. She echoes the needs for more student support and more connections between organizations – pushing for more events and community building. In addition, her experience in the VPMA office gives her a good basis should she be elected. We see the value in expanding resources through students, as Hussein suggests, through covering travel expenses and providing ticket funding and discounts. However, we fear that finding the funds to achieve this is not guaranteed and not sustainable, as much of this would rely on grants and donors.

While you cannot go wrong voting for either of these candidates, as both address key issues in their platform and have strong ideas on how to address them, Yao’s specificity in her plans and the fact that her ideas seem a bit more realistic give her our endorsement.

Vice President for Student Success — Jules Verrino

Our endorsement for this position did not come easy this year, as we believe that both candidates have very strong positions on many issues, and both have the experience and platforms that can provide a better life for students in the coming year. Both Jules Verrino, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, and Luca Cassidy, a junior double-majoring in economics and sociology, provided us with clear examples of realistic events that will help to reduce stress and promote new opportunities for students. Each candidate proved to us that they were passionate about their role and deeply cared about providing support for a student body that has been struggling through political, academic and mental health related issues over the past two semesters.

Ultimately, with strong arguments from both candidates, it came down to choosing the candidate whom we feel confident can provide this campus with fresh changes and new ideas. For her strengths in transparency, management, communication and dedication to reform for the student body, as well as her fresh set of ideas for the office based on her learning experiences on staff for the incumbent candidate, Pipe Dream believes that Verrino is the best choice for Vice President for Student Success (VPSS).

The strongest aspects of her candidacy are both her clear understanding of the skills required for management, and the clearly outlined plan she has for increasing efficiency and transparency in the VPSS office. She evidently has the technical skills to lead a team effectively, the personality to make real changes across campus and even promised to immediately hire staff in the roles that are needed to fit each specific niche in her office, immediately letting us know that she will begin her term with an emphasis on getting things done.

On the transparency side, she advocated for open and direct feedback to the VPSS office through social media and for the VPSS office to respond to recommended changes from the student body. We also greatly appreciated the focus in her platform, at the debate and in her discussion with Pipe Dream on making specific and accomplishable changes to campus communication and creating unique new opportunities for students with the input of students themselves. She was also fully transparent about the possible struggles and strengths with how she plans to make these changes.

The most important difference between both candidates, and the strongest reason we believe you should vote for Verrino, is just how clear her outline for fresh ideas and management is, such that we can more clearly follow what exact goals she wants to achieve and what paths she will take to achieve them. Additionally, her focused passion for the job makes it clear that she would represent the interests of students well.

This is not to say that Cassidy also doesn’t share this passion, and indeed his passion for service and successes as the current VPSS, such as the multicultural voting fair, made this a hard decision to make. We appreciate that he learned a great deal from his experience in the role, and promised to use these learning opportunities to improve the VPSS office, but just would have liked a more clear strategy for his future decision making as VPSS. Both candidates offer experience and great ideas, but Verrino’s clarity gives us confidence that she can accomplish her goals as VPSS for the 2024-25 academic year.

Vice President for Programming — Siriki Doumbia

It is clear after speaking with the three vice president for programming (VPP) candidates that the biggest problems facing the SA’s Programming Board (SAPB) are outreach and student attendance. Although Atticus Fauci, a sophomore majoring in economics, and Ryan Miller, a junior majoring in English, were able to identify these problems and have experience on the SAPB, the Executive Board believes that Siriki Doumbia, a senior majoring in business administration, is the strongest candidate to tackle these issues.

Doumbia’s platform primarily focuses on diversity and inclusivity both within the SAPB office and at events. Doumbia explained that after speaking with students during his campaign, he recognized a lack of trust between the students and the SAPB. We feel that his willingness to hear directly from students, ability to respond to concerns and current experience in the office will make him a great representative for the campus community in planning events. He ensures that he will build a diverse staff and will utilize his connections and experience in multicultural organizations to make SAPB events both more inclusive and more successful.

In addressing financial concerns facing the SAPB, Doumbia explained that he aims to increase attendance at the Fall Concert in order to grow funds for the following Spring Fling. He believes that bringing acts that students want to see and collaborating with multicultural organizations will rebuild SAPB’s trust with the student body, increase attendance and therefore increase funding for better events.

Fauci and Miller both have extensive experience in the SAPB, a clear passion for their work and a desire to see the office’s events succeed. Fauci proposed interesting plans to improve outreach including a video series with the FPS and creating posters for bands performing in Battle of the Bands. Miller’s platform focused on increasing advertising and hearing student suggestions through a suggestion box and office hours.

The decision to endorse just one candidate was not easy, but ultimately the Executive Board felt Miller’s platform lacked specificity in how she would improve advertising and hear from students. Fauci’s idea for sporting event tailgates with multicultural organizations sparked our interest, however we are unsure how this fits into the scope of the VPP’s role, and overall felt that due to his experience in multicultural organizations, Doumbia has a stronger ability to connect to the multicultural community. All three candidates have the qualifications to run the SAPB, but the Executive Board strongly believes that Doumbia can lead the office to success.

BU Council Representative – Mackenzie Cooper

Even though this year this position is unopposed, we as an E-Board believe Mackenzie Cooper, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law, is qualified for the role.

Her experiences with FINCO, and as senior director of media communications for the SUNY SA, make her already heavily involved in campus. Her experience makes her calls for more communication among areas of the University possible. Her plans for more communication between students and the Administration in the form of monthly “town halls” between the SA President, the GSO President and herself are exciting. Also, the Google Form to be displayed on the SA website and BU Council Instagram would allow her to better act as a voice for the students, according to Cooper.

Her plans for increased residential parking and a second parking garage are still incomplete, but her plan to coordinate with the VPF is a good start to the initiative. She also has new plans for increasing communication with Off Campus College Transport (OCCT) busing that would solve a lot of issues for students. The subscription-based texting service would ensure students are in constant communication through automated text messages that they would subscribe to based on which buses they frequently take. Her plans to also update the OCCT bus app would solve these issues as well.

While Cooper is only a sophomore — and the role typically is placed on a graduate student — Cooper’s upperclassmen connections allow her to be more than able to take on the role. We are confident that Cooper’s experience and motivation will allow her to complete her goals as BU Council Representative.