With the announcement of three campaigns for Undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) President and Executive Vice President, the election season at Tech appears to be in full swing.
Candidates for Graduate President as well as members of the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) will also be starting their campaigns.
The candidates, who formally announced their intention to run on Sunday, will now have two weeks to campaign and garner votes before the election process begins.
With three tickets running, this year marks the second year in a row with this number of candidates. Last year, now Underdgraduate SGA President Dillon Roseen ran against Alex Bandes and Conrad Rybka.
Aaron Solender with Alex Moran as his Vice President head one ticket. Aaron has worked with RHA as well as the Georgia Tech Ambassadors program, and Alex has been involved with the ISyE Faculty Advisory Board and ISyE Undergraduate Advisory Committee.
According to Solender, they hope to leverage their campus experiences in order to work towards an improved Tech environment.
Rather than creating a set agenda of pre-determined ideas like the other candidates, Solender and Moran say they plan on using student body feedback to develop the specifics regarding their plan of action.
According to them, their campaigns focus is on the issues voiced by the student body. They plan on using “population feedback” to build their platform and agenda.
“The student activity fee is very high and some students may feel that they don’t use everything that they pay for,” Moran said. “Maybe for them, we could work on making some parts optional… We can build a platform for what they’re asking.”
“We invite questions,” Solender said. “We want open questions, and open communications. If elected, we want to become representatives of the whole student body, and hear the voice of everyone and do what is most important to them.”
Jennifer Abrams leads another ticket with Jefferson Losse as her Vice President. Both Abrams and Losse have been involved with the Georgia Tech Student Ambassadors program as well as serving on the SGA executive branch.
“You get a passion from being at Georgia Tech and so we want to drive that passion, and keep it going,” Abrams said. “There are going to be times of frustration and sadness but we want the community to be whole through the good and the bad …”
Abrams and Losse have focused their agenda onto four key points: safety, wellness, “oneGT” and active transparency, which together constitute their main topics of interest. With some new initiatives such as the creation of a Wellness Task Force to be paired with the Vice President of Student Affairs and the creation of a Campus Safety Committee that will regularly work with the GTPD on campus safety issues, the pair hope to increase transparency between SGA and the student body.
Through further developing athletic and international/cultural programs, they plan on creating a greater sense of campus unity. Additionally, they hope to work with Tech’s VOICE program to increasr sexual violence prevention programming within the Greek community to develop a less hostile environment and reduce the barriers between Greek and non-Greek students.
“There should be a more efficient way of communicating between administration and students,” Losse said. “We already have a great relationship with the administration and faculty and that willingness to work together will engender that active transparency.”
Another ticket has Missy Pittard and Zain Sharif running for President and Executive Vice President respectively. Both Missy and Zain served on SGA councils and committees during their time at Tech. Additionally, Missy has worked in organizations such as ODK and the GT Ambassadors program, while Zain has been heavily involved with cultural organizations on campus.
This diversity of experiences, according to Sharif, adds to their strength as an overall ticket.
“We haven’t spent all of our time in one organization, or one avenue … so we’re really coming at this from a broad perspective,” Sharif said. “We want to keep every single person in mind, and at the end of the day, that’s what we keep gravitating towards: making sure that everyone stays connected.”
To do so, they are focusing on an improved CIOS/professor feedback system, improved communication between SGA and the general student body, and an overall focus on fostering a more collaborative atmosphere, in hopes of improving well being among Tech’s populace.
Some initiatives such as the revamping of student portals and the improved CIOS system will be extensions of current programs whereas other plans such as the creation of a Student Bill of Rights to ensure a certain degree of fairness in classes are undoubtedly more bold. Furthermore, they plan on creating a weekly SGA email that informs the student body of important updates and campus features.
“The key is, this idea of atmosphere, this idea of smiling.” Pittard said. “We want to see people smile more. Our platform is increasing positivity and a sense of community because at the end of the day, those are the things that affect students the most.”
This coming Tuesday, March 31st, a debate moderated by the Technique, featuring all the candidates will be held at the Clough building in room 144. All of the aforementioned candidates will have a chance to speak about themselves, their platforms, as well as respond to questions posed by the moderator.
The elections for Undergraduate SGA President, Graduate SGA President and all other offices will open Friday, April 3rd at 1 p.m. and will close Wednesday, April 8th at 4 p.m.
In last year’s election, Roseen won with 53.6 percent of the 1,531 overal votes compared to 705 to Rybkand and 620 to Bandes. Because he received more than 50 percent of the votes, there was no runoff, but if a candidate fails to get a majority this year, the top two candidates will face each other to win.