Students gathered in the student center atrium for the Candidate Forum, where speeches were heard from Student Government Association (SGA) members running for executive board positions on Wednesday, April 9.
According to election chair Monique Manfra, about 50 people were present, though most were SGA members and friends of those who gave speeches.
All candidates spoke except Jamie Gusrang, who is running for vice president of Academic Affairs, and Marco Zelaya, who is running for vice president of Legal and Governmental Affairs, both of whom are unopposed.
Larissa Shelton, who is running for executive vice president, said that each candidate was given two minutes to make his or her speech. Following the speeches, she said, the candidates were asked a question by a group of moderators.
This group included SGA President Chris Portera, and the election committee, which was made up of Karen Martin, senior class president, Ema Puskas, senior class vice president and Manfra.
The candidate was then given 30 seconds to respond to the moderator’s question, and his or her opponent was given 15 seconds to formulate a rebuttal. The audience was then permitted to ask the candidate questions.
Shelton said that she was asked about how she would help to facilitate better communication between the students and SGA.
“Currently the SGA is caught up in thinking that everything they do is right,” Shelton responded.
“SGA needs to do to a better job in representing the students. This past year, I have fought for that, but it’s difficult when it’s one voice against a whole group,” she added.
Shelton added that she was upset with how the forum turned out.
“A lot of the questions asked were questions of my opponent’s supporters and friends,” she said.
“Instead of focusing on matters that are important to the students, they dissected parts of my speech to make me look bad,” she added.
Christina Puglia, Shelton’s opponent, also spoke at the forum. She was asked a question about how, if elected, she would solve conflicts with the elected SGA president.
“I believe that there is a very personal relationship between the president and vice president,” Puglia said.
“I would sit down and try to talk things out, but if we couldn’t come to an understanding, it would be the executive vice president’s position to take a step back,” she added.
Roy D. Johnson Jr., who is running for alternate student trustee, also spoke. He said that although he could not stay for the entire forum he enjoyed the speeches he heard.
Johnson said that whoever was elected should give student voices adequate representation.
If elected, he said that he plans to improve on the quality of the job, because he feels that it has been done poorly in previous years.
“Win or lose, I hope the person who gets the position keeps an open mind and not be a hand puppet to the administration and the executive board of SGA,” he said.
Jesse Place, candidate for vice president of Administration and Finance, said the forum went “overall pretty well.”
The only exception, he said, was that he felt more students from the general public should have attended.
Place said that he was asked how the budget cuts would affect student organizations.
“In one sense, the cuts don’t really affect the organizations,” he said. “I do feel, however, that we have to be conscious of the fact that as the College cuts back in certain areas, there will be more pressure on SFB to contribute student activities fees to different things,” Place added.
Place’s opponent, Mike Cilia, is the current vice president of Administration and Finance. Cilia spoke about why he deserves to be reelected.
According to Cilia, he was asked why he is more qualified than his opponent to hold the position.
“Because I have experience, I feel I can do a good job,” Cilia said. “I also feel like I can continue to help student organizations with my position on SFB.”
“I don’t like to leave a job half finished,” he added.
All in all, Manfra said that she felt the forum “was the same as it is every year.”
She added that it “went well and addressed many issues” that concerned the College community.