SGI debate talks advocacy, accountability

Candidates discuss what they want to do for the student body, organizations

Beverly Danquah, Staff Writer

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Student Government, Inc. (SGI) held a debate on Monday during common hour to consider the ideas and goals of the candidates for the upcoming school year.

More than 100 students were on hand at the D’Angelo Center. At least one student from all the organizations as well as faculty and administration were welcomed to listen to what the candidates had to say.

Members of the R.E.A.L. (Realizing Excellence through Advocacy and Leadership) ticket along with those running as independents presented their plans and views on issues that are important to students.

The Torch’s own Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Ciechalski moderated the debate. She asked standard questions regarding plans the candidates outlined in their applications, what candidates would like to see on campus and why they were running for their respective positions.

To start off the debate, ticket candidates and the independent candidates introduced themselves to the audience.

“We believe advocacy is the biggest part of SGI and it should always be the biggest part,” Frank Obermeyer, unopposed candidate for president, said.

He also said he looks forward to having a purpose section in SGI’s mission statement passed by the SGI floor.

“I know I’m not running against anyone, but I’m going to earn this position either way,” Obermeyer said.

The R.E.A.L. ticket’s three tenets are to improve the student experience, empower student leaders and strengthen the St. John’s community.

The ticket plans to execute these goals by voicing student concerns, better engaging the student body and exemplifying the hard work of on campus organizations.

Candidates were also asked to reiterate their qualifications for their desired positions.

Carl Edward-Fetiere, independent candidate for treasurer, wowed the crowd when he explained to his past experience in finance. The junior is the budget committee co-chair for SGI, a financial consultant at his own tax firm, previously worked at Liberty Tax Firm and also spent a summer as a Northwestern Mutual intern.

His opponent, Teresa Ehiogu, also laid out her accolades to attendees.

“In SGI, I’m a co-chair for budget committee and for event review,” she said. “Outside of SGI, I’m manager of operations, I’m an RA at Hollis Hall, and I’m a manager of the women’s track and field team on campus.”

Ehiogu is also a part of the future healthcare leaders on campus.

Independent candidate for junior senator, Anthony Savino, proposed a more informative MySJU to help students better navigate the site.

“Using MySJU to get the message out is messy right now,” Savino said. “We have a lot of different committees in SGI right now … we can really use them to see what the student body is thinking.”

His opponent, Atem Kazi, rebutted his statement, stating that MySJU was already doing its job, and there wasn’t much left to do.

Kazi also proposed a junior ball, something audience members responded positively to.

Candidates also talked about ways to improve OrgSync, a campus engagement network that allows organizations to relay information easier and connect with students. They proposed a reimbursement system, request system and budgeting system.

“There are ways that you can work with your treasurer and manage your budget on OrgSync that we have yet to tap into,” Obermeyer said. “If we can give you all the tools you need on OrgSync to keep track of your budget throughout the year, it would be a great benefit to organizations.”

Tahmir Williams, independent candidate for vice president, wasted no time referring to the Torch’s past article to rebut the claims of his opponent, William Pugh, three times. Pugh also rebutted William’s claim once.

“In an interview with the Torch, you stated that ‘the main way for an organization to succeed is through setting clear standards and goals for each committee to meet.’ Can you explain more on this and give an example of what a clear standard is to you?” Williams asked.

Obono Mba-Madja, a sophomore hospitality major, attended the debate to support her friend, junior senator candidate, Atem Kazi.

“I was disappointed by the way the debate was conducted because they didn’t allow the students or organizations to ask any questions,” she said. “Since SGI is about empowering the students, they fell flat by not giving students a chance to voice their concerns.”

Morgan Bell, a junior government and politics major, is excited to see her peers running for student government.

“It’s important to get involved with voting because a lot of people don’t realize that as organizations, we go to SGI to ask for money, support for events, and it’s good to know who’s serving you,” Bell said. “Having my peers run means that when my organization goes to SGI for funding, it’s good to know we won’t be pushed aside as just another org and we’ll have that connectivity because we know the people in office.”

Voting will be held on Thursday and Friday in the DAC lobby and online at MySJU.

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