The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Meet the 2019-20 SGI Candidates

P.R.I.D.E and L.I.T. tickets promote inclusivity, accountability on campus
P.R.I.D.E. PHOTO COURTESY/Nnaemeka Ifeajekwu/L.I.T. PHOTO COURTESY/Omari Graham

Student Government Inc. (SGI) elections are underway, and two tickets, P.R.I.D.E. and L.I.T., are running with a few common initiatives – inclusivity, accountability and student wellness.

In anticipation of the SGI debate between the candidates, which will be held on Monday, April 1 at 2 p.m. in the D’Angelo Center Room 206, the Torch has reached out to all the members to learn about their platforms. Christopher Viola, who is running as an independent candidate for senior senator, did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

Whether it be race, religion, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, socio-economic status or ethnicity, P.R.I.D.E. believes campus climate should be as inclusive and appreciative of other identities as possible.

“St. John’s University consistently promotes itself as diverse but never want to address how divided the student body is or the lack of support for marginalized students,” P.R.I.D.E. said in a joint statement.

On the other hand, the L.I.T. ticket’s mission is to improve student experiences through inclusive advocacy and consistent communication, by ensuring accountability and establishing a healthy relationship with administration through “effective communication.”

“We plan to collaborate with various departments and student leaders to productively promote awareness of resources and information, as well as develop and see through initiatives to promote the physical, mental, and emotional well being of all students,” L.I.T. said in a joint statement.

The candidate running for president on the P.R.I.D.E. ticket, Matthew Macatula, has been heavily involved on campus since his sophomore year. “Currently, I serve as a Resident Assistant within Century Hall catering to sophomore residents. I am also a manager for the Operations division of Student Affairs, I have served and worked with so many organizations and have gotten to know and build close relationships with members of the St. John’s community,” Macatula said.

Macatula is a Catholic Scholar, which enables him to serve the greater Queens area. He also sits on the Asian Alliance Discussion Panel, where they attempt to breakdown and understand the underrepresentation of the Asian community at St. John’s, formulate new ways to continue to strive for representation and work on how to advocate for themselves and other minority coalitions.

“My greatest accomplishment while serving the students here at St. John’s has been my time as Chair of the Organizations committee, I was able to work very closely with the current E-Board to bring on 6 brand new level 1 organizations to St. John’s; furthering the growth and success of our students,” Macatula said.

The candidate running for president on the L.I.T. ticket, Johnny Wiley, and candidate for secretary, Hannah Sesay, have had leadership positions throughout their undergrad years as well.

Both spent this past year on SGI’s executive board, working with Public Safety to advocate for students and find ways to improve their department from the student perspective. Additionally, they began tackling issues that were brought to light from #SurvivingSJU, helping build the foundation of the newly formed Equity Committee of SGI in efforts to advocate and work toward an inclusive environment.

When asked about the issue of inequality on campus, both tickets addressed the lack of inclusivity among the diverse student population.

“The only way to truly create an inclusive environment here is to consistently communicate with students in ways that allow them to express their concerns and educate leaders on how they can help them have a better experience here at St. John’s,” L.I.T. said in a joint statement.

The secretary candidate for P.R.I.D.E., Nnaemeka Ifeajekwu, believes there is inequality on campus due to the lack of cultural education.

“There is no cultural training or University-sponsored event that lets people know that they can agree to disagree,”  Ifeajekwu said. “There can be institutional changes, however, in the long run, everyone must take ownership of the way they perceive things.”

The vice president candidate of P.R.I.D.E., Clyde Drayton, believes students and faculty should actively work together to achieve equity on campus and provide opportunities for students to develop themselves: Academically, personally, mentally, emotionally or professionally.

“I would change the relationship between faculty and students or student organizations. No matter how you look at it, faculty last longer in their positions than student leaders do — and because student leaders change so fast, there needs to be a legitimate network between faculty and student leaders or student organizations,” Drayton said.

L.I.T. believes there is an abundance of issues at St. John’s that need attention. “One that would strongly benefit our university is if St. John’s became a more sustainable campus,” they added.

While many people understand sustainability from the environmental standpoint, the L.I.T. ticket wants to bring forth the deeper meaning behind sustainability.

“Creating a sustainable campus not only means developing a green campus but also continuing to create change towards a balanced environment,” the L.I.T. ticket stated. “We want students to go about their day knowing that their identities are appreciated and catered to. One way this can happen is with improvement in communication between the student body and administration.”

According to L.I.T., more work needs to be done to lessen the “animosity” between various administrative departments on campus and the student body. “[With] departments like Public Safety, students, often minorities of all sorts, don’t feel safe or comfortable going to public safety with certain issues and a big part of that comes from past experiences and lack of representation,” they said.

By providing students with more opportunities to voice their concerns, as well as holding administration and themselves accountable on the changes, L.I.T. believes they can create a balanced and inclusive environment for all, “not just in regards to race, but all other identities, such as sexuality and religion.”

A point L.I.T. is pushing as a ticket is that many of their initiatives are not what they are “going to do,” but what they are “already doing,” using this platform to evolve their goals.

“Change will always happen when a new set of eyes are looking at an issue, but it’s the right set of eyes that will allow the change to be a positive progression,” the L.I.T. ticket stated. “This is what the student body will get with the L.I.T. ticket as we ‘Lift Individuals to the Top.’”

P.R.I.D.E. also believes that the work their members have already done will speak for itself, and that student government should be filled with people who have the desire to work. “A pack of lions is called a pride and we embody this because we believe that everybody should have the right to feel empowered and valid,” the P.R.I.D.E. ticket said. “We aren’t just running for the students — we’re running with them.”

Elections will take place on Thursday, April 4 and Friday, April 5.




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