COURTESY OF/STUDENT GOVERNMENT INC.
Voting has officially begun for next year’s Student Government, Inc. (SGi) executive board. The polls opened Sunday, March 28, at noon and will close Tuesday, March 30, at midnight. This year, only one ticket is running, ATLAS, along with two independent candidates: Laiba Amin and Chelsea Dawn Witten.
ATLAS, which stands for Aspiration, Transformation, Longevity, Alignment, Service, outlines its platform through its Instagram. According to their Instagram, the primary objectives of ATLAS’ campaign are restructuring SGi internally, prioritizing student connections and bringing campus life back. Their platform extensively outlines their strategies for tackling each of these objectives.
ATLAS provided the framework for its plans to restructure SGi to “better serve the student body.” This includes the plan to develop and empower the Legislative Branch to be equal to the Executive Branch in order to create a checks and balance system, add new positions to the Executive Branch to handle tasks similar to the Chief of Staff and Press Secretary within the White House and grant the power of executive orders to the president.
“The efficiency of any government is dependent on its structure,” the platform states. “The Atlas Ticket vows to ensure that progressive change is made to Student Government Inc. internally so that it can functionally run better to serve the student body.”
Come Fall 2021, ATLAS plans to prioritize student connections and provide resources to revitalize student life, both of which saw drastic changes due to COVID-19.
“Due to the pandemic, we lost a year and a half of events and activities,” they stated. “Next year ATLAS will do everything in our power to bring back life to campus, in a safe and efficient manner.”
ATLAS declined to provide comment to the Torch on March 29, saying they are “going to hold off on providing the Torch with answers regarding the elections seeing as [two] of the ATLAS ticket members are [a part] of the current e-board.”
The ATLAS ticket includes:
President: Ethan Burrell
Vice President: Christianna N. Ukponmwan
Treasurer: Richard Neri
Secretary: Diamond Wilson
“The St. John’s community thrives off our programming, and it’s time to reclaim it,” ATLAS said on its Instagram.
The two independent candidates are Amin, who is running for Junior Senator and Dawn Witten, who is running for Sophomore Senator.
Amin, who enrolled as an undergraduate student at St. John’s at age 16, told the Torch via email that since her freshman year she has “evolved into an ambitious leader who adapts quickly to change.”
Amin’s involvement with SGi includes serving as the current Sophomore Representative for the Collins College of Professional Studies as well as the Assistant Chair of the Research & Development Committee. She is also the founding president of the Society of Bioethics and Medicine and a mentor for EPIC, a program created by Career Services that allows upperclassmen to mentor underclassmen to help them acclimate to campus life.
“My experience being involved within SGi will aid me [in] becoming an advocate for students that listens and acts upon the concerns of the student body,” she said.
One of the goals Amin outlined to the Torch include “reforming academics at St. John’s as I will be advocating for the addition of new minors/majors that interest the student body.”
“Another goal of mine is to work towards creating a smooth transition for students from virtual to in person learning,” she continued. “This past year and a half has been a difficult time for everyone and I would like to assure the student body that next year as Junior Senator, I will work towards [creating] a vibrant campus life.”
Witten says that some of her goals include leading class-wide initiatives and increasing cohesiveness between sophomore class representatives and the Sophomore Senator.
“I chose to run for the E-Board because I want to change the status quo,” she said. “I want my class and the student generations after me to feel pride in attending SJU. I hope to accomplish this by relaying high expectations that the sophomore class has for SJU administrators going forward.”
“At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, I want the sophomore class to feel proud of the sophomore representatives as a team, knowing that we accomplished great things for our class,” she said.
All the candidates this year are running uncontested for their respective positions. Both Amin and Witten expressed their feelings regarding the lack of competition.
Amin said she did not feel conflicted as the only candidate for Junior Senator.
“This year’s election process, [run] by the elections committee, went very smoothly,” she stated. “Being an uncontested candidate means I was the only one interested in the position. But all students had a fair chance and I felt the committee ensured that.”
Witten, though excited at the opportunity to become Sophomore Senator, feels disappointed due to the lack of competition.
“I want the student body to have variety in their options; this is the only way to ensure that their needs are accurately being represented after the election is over,” Witten said. “I truly hope that this year’s scarcity inspires others to run come next campaign season.”
“Democracy cannot exist without empowerment,” she continued. “And it is extremely hard to feel empowered when the gift of choice is taken away.”