By: Mary-Ellen Davis, News Editor
Photo courtesy of Towson.edu
The Student Government Association candidates elaborated on what they hope to achieve if they are elected during the SGA election debate on Monday.
The candidates answered questions from Election Commission members, including questions submitted by audience members via a Curious Cat Snapchat code.
The only candidates running for next year’s SGA executive board were part of the TrueTU ticket. The ticket includes current Director of Diversity and Inclusion Russhell J. Ford for president, Assistant Director of Special Projects Rachel Veslany for vice president, Senator Naimah Kargbo for treasurer, Senator and Government Operations Chair Alexander Best for attorney general, and Director of Student Organizations Danvic Celebrado-Royer for chief of staff.
Chief of staff is not an elected position, but instead is appointed by the SGA president.
The executive board ticket candidates were each allotted two minutes to make an opening statement and five minutes to answer questions. They were then allowed 30 seconds to give a concluding statement.
Ford said that she and her ticket want to add to Towson’s growth as an institution.
“Since coming to Towson in 2015, I have seen it’s progression and am motivated to contributing with the four exceptional leaders I will be serving with,” Ford said.
Ford said that, if elected as president, she will strive to stay true to her ticket’s beliefs, and make sure that all students are heard.
“Our ticket enforces the importance of civic engagement and mental health, academics, involvement, and unification by creating an environment on our campus that embodies those beliefs,” she said.
Ford feels she would also be comfortable representing students in front of administration.
“I’ve been in plenty of spaces where I am representing a bigger body of students than just myself and so with this experience I’m very comfortable talking to administrators,” Ford said. “I’ve also been given the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with administration as well as faculty members from the CSD (Center for Student Diversity), so I’m comfortable in talking to them and communicating with them and making sure that students are heard.”
Veslany acknowledged the University’s growth and said she intends to continue that trajectory.
“Towson University has progressed very quickly over the last several years and is only getting better with time,” she said. “I would like to continue the legacy as well as establish new and inclusive opportunities for our future.”
Veslany believes she is the best candidate for the position of vice president because she aims to promote an inclusive environment for the student body.
“I believe it is important that everyone’s voice is heard,” she said.
Best, who is also a resident assistant on campus, said he wants to create a equitable campus climate by promoting transparency as attorney general.
“While many of the students have seen the great and hard work the SGA does, too often I hear the comment that students don’t know what SGA is working on, and that’s a narrative I would like to change,” Best said. “Through prioritizing transparency and communication with our students, together we will advocate and amplify the voices of the underrepresented communities of the campus and beyond.”
Kargbo said she is fit to become the SGA treasurer because the financial policy is something she is very familiar with.
“I have been able to really know the budget and financial process like the back of my hand,” she said.
Kargbo recognized that this past year, student groups didn’t always understand the SGA’s budget and financial policy. She said her main goal as treasurer would be to make sure that information is understood by every student group.
Kargbo also wants to make sure that every group can access the funds they need. She said this begins with reducing those groups’ confusion in regard to the budget and financial process.
Kargbo closed her statement saying she is “not an average person, and I do not do average things.”
There are seven senatorial candidates and no justice candidates running in this year’s election.
Senate candidates Kathryn Foreman, Keith Swint and Marlene Tubera gave statements.
Swint, whose focus was on improving organizations, said he wants to “provide more funding for clubs more organizations so they can be improved, do more events, have more money to carry out decorations food or something like that and just effectively use the budget that we are given for all these clubs and students.”
For Foreman, being open and available for students to voice their concerns was a large focus, as was getting organizations the funding that they need.
“It’s really important that we can get the needed funding for student organizations here on campus so that they can put on events here for the Towson students,” Foreman said. “I believe that voices are important and I’m always ready to listen and hear what someone has to say.”
Tubera discussed the importance of student-advisor relationships and promoting better parking options for both resident and commuter students.
“My initiatives focus on better parking solutions for students who are both residents and commuters, emphasizing and promoting positive mental health on college campuses, and making better solutions to providing better advisor to student relationships,” Tubera said.
Elnatan Amare, another senatorial candidate, was unable to attend the debate and instead submitted a statement that was read by the moderators.
The other senatorial candidates neither attended the debate nor provided statements to be read in their absence.
Students were able to vote for their SGA representatives from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 2, in the University Union Lobby, Burdick Hall, Glen Plaza, and on the Cook Library Beach. Students are also able to vote from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 3 in the University Union Lobby, under the Lecture Hall, in Burdick Hall, and in the CLA Café. If they cannot make it to the polls, students can vote online at involved.towson.edu.
The SGA election results will be announced on May 3 at 5 p.m. in the University Union, Patuxent Room.