2023 Student Government, Inc. Debate Recap

Candidates discuss student involvement, transparency and inclusion at this year’s debate.

Torch Photo / David Bayha

Student Government, Inc. (SGi) at St. John’s University held this year’s presidential debate in D’Angelo Center Room 310 on March 30. The debate ran from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Members of the CRUSH ticket, REVIVE ticket and Claudia Obuchowicz  — independent candidate running for press secretary — kicked off the debate with their opening statements. CRUSH stands for “committed, relentless, united, sincere and humble,” while REVIVE hopes to “revive” school spirit at St. John’s.

Both tickets mentioned food insecurity on campus and how they plan to resolve the issue. The CRUSH ticket is working on establishing an app where donors will be able to purchase donatable block meal plans open to alumni and students.

Obuchowicz sees the student body refraining from “voicing their concerns” to be one of the University’s biggest issues. “Although [SGi] do have legislative meetings where the student body could come and voice their concerns, I feel like people just don’t go.” 

Aside from a swim club that introduced themselves during community dialogue at the April 3 meeting, there has been no participation in community dialogue by non-SGi members this year.

To resolve this, Obuchowicz plans to create a survey that would be administered to the student body in order for SGi to gain feedback from students. 

REVIVE President Nina Allen stressed the lack of student involvement on campus. As a commuter student, she finds it difficult to get involved. “We want to work to promote current resources, such as organizations,” she said. “We also would like to expand our ideas.” One new plan Allen mentioned is organizing a formal for seniors. 

In their platform, which has been posted through a series of Instagram posts, REVIVE mentioned their plan to open a bar on campus. St. John’s previously had an on-campus bar, The Rat, which closed in the early 1990s. Contrary to the previous bar, REVIVE plans to open a pop-up bar that would be open on game days and special events “to increase school involvement and networking with alumni.

CRUSH Treasurer Paul Gaylor questioned this plan, claiming it is not unique.

“Father Shanley actually had this idea, and stated that it was an idea but it wasn’t really going to come soon,” Gaylor said. “There’s no shot that you can get [the bar] back within the next year.”

REVIVE believes that the decision to begin selling alcohol at St. John’s Men’s Basketball games in Carnesecca Arena boosts hope for them to open a pop-up bar, seeing it as a networking opportunity.

“For instance, at Stormin Loud, alumni are going to be there,” said REVIVE’s Treasurer Christly Borno. “We know that we aren’t necessarily building a bar. Alcohol is already sold on campus so we are just adding to it in a way that will bring back alumni because that’s a way to connect students to alumni.”

To battle racial and gender bias, CRUSH wants to mandate diversity and equity training within the student senate. REVIVE plans to open a Google Form accessible to all students to report any incident of unfair treatment. 

Obuchowicz highlighted the importance of implementing people of color, the LGBTQ+ community and ethnic minorities in our core curriculum. “I feel like in our Philosophy or English classes, we predominantly just focus on Aristotle and Socrates,” she said. “All these other philosophers that are part of the minority groups are not represented as much.”

Transparency is an essential part of CRUSH’s platform, they said, which is why they plan to start a podcast to let the student body know what SGi has planned. This would inform students about what administration and organization leaders have planned.

Voting opened on April 2 at noon and will be available until 11:59 p.m. on April 4. Students have been provided with unique usernames and passwords through their St. John’s emails, enabling them to cast their e-ballots. 

The full video of the debate can be found on The Torch’s YouTube Channel.