The candidates for president of the Student Government Association said they believe student housing to be a prominent issue to address during their 2022-23 term, if elected.
That’s one of the key points presidential candidates, incumbent SGA president Jacob Goldstein and SGA vice president Iris Castillo, talked about during the SGA presidential debate on April 22 in Room 102 of the Classroom Hall.
Goldstein said he would advocate for more dorms on campus in response to the overwhelmed residential facility on campus that forced university administration to allocate students in local hotels.
He said he was pleased with the addition of a second residential building, which is set to finish construction by fall 2024.
Goldstein suggested looking into apartment complexes for options outside campus, emphasizing student safety.
Castillo responded SGA is focused on being constantly updated about housing during meetings with administration.
“We want to make sure that the student voice is being heard,” she said.
Castillo said it’s important to prioritize the connection with minority students instead of just talking about doing it.
She said communicating and asking these students, “Where can we help you? What are your specific needs?” is key to improving representation and inclusion.
Goldstein said he agreed with Castillo, pointing to his charge of a commissioner for diversity and inclusivity during his first term, from 2021-22.
He said he would emphasize giving “more people in the room” a space to share their opinions and concerns while taking the initiative to address them.
Goldstein said supporting freshmen and transfer students and notifying them of available positions in school organizations is important to grow engagement beyond class responsibilities.
He also said providing students with more spaces to meet and interact with each other is essential to student life.
Castillo responded that increasing parking lot space is a way to improve student life.
Castillo said she would look into offered student events, ensuring they are offered during times students are available to improve student turnout on campus.
She said more events like the Festival de Cascarones can be offered to improve student life and promote a sense of community.
Goldstein responded he would advocate for a set time when no classes are held so events can be enjoyed by any student who wants to join.
On the matter of food quality on campus, Goldstein said he would continue to push for more variety of food offered by the Chartwells eatery.
Castillo said she would be in contact with the Food Service Committee while communicating with students to see how food services can improve.
Both Castillo and Goldstein agreed food quality offered by Chartwells has improved since 2020, when the pandemic began, but there is room for improvement.
For promoting extracurricular programs, Castillo said she would enhance communication with program leaders by suggesting a partnership with SGA. SGA would then act as a liaison and guide between students and the programs.
Goldstein responded “word-of-mouth” communication has been essential to notifying students of resources on campus throughout the pandemic, particularly when he was sworn in in 2021. He said investing time communicating with students, whether it’s through social media, talking with other organizations or tabling sessions, would pay off with better engagement.
Goldstein said he would work with administration to improve student life by advocating for the existence of a student union, or a place where students could congregate and mingle to encourage student life on campus. He said he plans to meet with administration to levy funds for this student “living room.”
Castillo said she would look at already existing spaces on campus that could be flexible enough to act as a meeting space for students and host events. This is a short-term solution that could be explored while students wait for a student union space.
Castillo suggested the implementation of a senatorial seat to improve representation for graduate students. She also said she would reach out to graduate departments to ask for feedback and ensure “students have what they need.” She also said there would be an effort to analyze the community and see what programs and internships could be implemented and pitched to graduate level, respectively.
Goldstein said he has recommended SGA increase the number of senators to three for each grade, from freshman to graduate. This would benefit representation, providing an opportunity for them to voice their opinions through the senate.
Castillo said SGA should have a role that’s “able to connect with everybody.”
For Castillo, “breaking barriers” and facilitating a bridge between the student body, faculty and administration is key. SGA is about connecting with one another, she said.
Castillo said she sees SGA as a means to give a foundation and representation to groups who may not feel heard or seen.
Goldstein, on the other hand, sees SGA as a support system for students, encouraging them to use the resources on campus and placing an emphasis on fixing “university-level issues,” he said.
“Just as we have Staff Council to support staff issues and we have Faculty Senate to support faculty issues, I believe that that’s the role that SGA plays,” he said.
The SGA election polls will run from April 25-28. Students can cast their vote through Jagsync.
For more information on candidates, which include vice presidents and senator positions, visit SGA’s Instagram.