This 2021 undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) presidential race has been like no other, and both Kyle Smith and Salmata Barrie and Sam Ellis and Ajanta Choudhury have run phenomenal campaigns. However, the Technique Editorial Board has decided to endorse Kyle and Salmata as the upcoming SGA President and Vice President.
One major element is that Kyle already has a year of experience under his belt, having already served as SGA Vice President during one of the most unprecedented times this Institute has ever faced. We hope that electing Kyle and Salmata will allow them the time to further their efforts that were slowed or suspended due to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also recognize the fact that many in their team are people not traditionally involved in top SGA leadership, and we are excited to see many fresh faces, including the extremely qualified Salmata herself. Finally, we were impressed with the thoroughness and feasibility of their one-year plan.
While Sam and Ajanta offer very specific and creative goals to create change on campus, in many instances, they do not demonstrate a clear plan and course of action for bringing these exciting ideas into fruition. On the other hand, Kyle and Salmata’s overarching goals are much more vague than Sam and Ajanta’s, but they more than make up for it by offering objective ways to measure their success within the broad goals. We believe that it is imperative to support the candidate that has the most achievable plan and not just the one whose ideas sound the most attractive.
More than each campaign’s websites and social media, the debate held by the Technique offered insight into what Tech could look like under the leadership of both candidates. We believe that leaders in the SGA should be approachable and passionate about what they do. These qualities shine through with Kyle, who, even after holding a stressful position in student leadership during a very difficult time for the Institute, is not only willing to do it all again, but take up a role with even bigger responsibility and higher visibility. During the debate, we could clearly see the passion that Kyle had for leading the student body. He was humble and transparent, admitting when he did not have an answer to a question and being realistic about the limitations of SGA. This type of honesty and accountability is what we look for in a leader.
Moreover, while Sam and Ajanta were enthusiastic during the debate and stayed dedicated to their platform, many of their promised goals, such as creating a bar on Tech Square, suspending ticketing on non-event weekends and raising the temperature of all the buildings, left us confused as to how they were actually going to get it done. Examination of their platform did not resolve those questions. Further, we wonder if some of these more outlandish ideas actually bring into question the campaign’s dedication to many more pressing issues on campus. While Kyle and Salmata’s goals are not as flashy and lofty as Sam and Ajanta’s, we recognize that they have a concise and, more importantly, transparent plan.
It should be noted that although we endorse Kyle and Salmata for President and Vice President, we do not think their platform is perfect. To improve their vision, we recommend a greater emphasis on mental health services, a more thorough plan for sustainability and a plan to better bridge the gap between student organizations and SGA.
After all the difficulties of this year, the student body needs candidates that make their individual voices feel heard and appreciated. We need people with the humility to admit they do not know everything. We need people who will prioritize fostering a more diverse and representative leadership at Tech. We need people who offer a unique perspective on the needs of campus. We need people who understand the limits of the President position and will pursue actually achievable goals. Finally, we need people who are transparent and communicative and have shown a willingness to defer to the opinions of the student body at Tech. Kyle and Salmata can be those people for the Institute, and we confidently endorse them for President and Vice President.