Eleven Emory undergraduate student candidates began their campaigns for seven leadership positions on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at midnight. Election day is Friday, Feb. 25, which follows 10 days of campaigning through speeches, posters and social media pages. Positions up for election include Student Government Association (SGA) president and executive vice president, College Council (CC) president and vice president, Student Programming Council (SPC) president, Residence Hall Association (RHA) president and Goizueta Bachelor of Business Association (BBA) Council president. Other positions up for election include BBA Council executive vice president and junior representative, CC senior and sophomore representatives and SGA representative at-arge.
This year, a few notable issues have emerged as most candidates share concerns regarding inclusivity, participation and transparency throughout Emory’s campus and within their respective organizations. SGA Presidential Candidate and College junior Max Zoberman emphasized his goal for all students to feel unconditional comfort at Emory, especially considering that “the school is in such a transitional period, between all the leading profound questions of social justice,” he said. One initiative that Zoberman said he has supported aims to make all of the University’s governing documents gender inclusive, through the use of gender inclusive pronouns. Considering that this implementation can help to increase the greater comfort of students, “it seems like a no-brainer,” he said.
The other SGA Presidential candidate and Business School sophomore Daniel Rodriguez emphasized his own platform concerning the inclusion of different groups, especially minority groups, and said that he has begun to establish connections with Latino student organizations. “As a [Latino] minority, I’ve seen how isolated certain groups are,” he said. He added that he hopes to support more inclusion between Greek and non-Greek students.
SPC Presidential candidate and Business School junior Ria Sabnis said that she too hopes to lessen divides between Greek and non-Greek students, through focusing primarily on new member recruitment. “I don’t like the perception that SPC is viewed as a Greek organization,” she said, adding that an “underhyped” part of her platform is to allow the Emory community to see SPC’s programming before it evaluates the members behind it.
Both Sabnis and her competitor, Business School junior Marisa Hann, have been involved with SPC since their freshman year. Both candidates voiced their own concerns regarding minority inclusion and budget transparency, the lack of which Hann called “ridiculous” and “frustrating.” Hann said that the “majority of [SPC] members do not know [our budget],” which she said she plans to change through encouraging SPC to approach obstacles from a more creative standpoint as opposed to a logistical standpoint. Both Hann and Sabnis said that regardless of whether they are successful in Friday’s election, they intend to continue their work with SPC. “Even in a state of all this competitiveness, we know the big picture … is helping Emory out,” Hann said.
RHA presidential candidates, College junior Jonah Chang and College sophomore James Martin, said that they also hope to continue their work with the organization whether or not they receive the RHA presidency. Both Chang and Martin said that they want to increase RHA’s appearance as an organization that supports community engagement; Chang specified that he hopes for RHA to better support interaction between residence halls which can help to support all students’ needs, and which never leaves students to advocate for themselves. “Advocacy is a two-way street,” he said.
Advocacy is also a concern of CC presidential candidate College junior Molly Zhu, who said that she hopes to acknowledge the “assumption that CC is out to get certain groups,” which she said has never been CC’s intention. “I think this past year we’ve seen so much contention coming from different groups on campus,” she said, adding that she is open to criticism, collaboration and working to ameliorate these relationships as well as the CC’s ability to represent the entire Emory community. Zhu said that CC has increased its collaboration with Emory Black Student Union (EBSU) to make programs and interactions as inclusive as it is feasible. CC vice presidential candidate and College sophomore Cassidy Schwartz said that she also hopes to promote CC as an accessible and inclusive organization, which can “make sure things are changing” through the promotion of a CC finance committee and further transparency between the organization and the community.
The opposing CC vice presidential candidate, College junior Dennis Kamara, said that he hopes to tend to all Emory students through whatever means possible. “The goal of CC, overall, is to address the needs of the student body,” he said. “I feel that by working towards making sure that we affirm and empower each identity, [we work] towards the mission of what CC is essentially about.” BBA Council presidential candidate and Business School junior Kyle Nelson wrote in an email to the Wheel that he also plans to address issues of diversity, “whether it is by improving the integration of international students or addressing the diversity of the student body within the BBA program.”
SGA executive vice president candidate and Business School sophomore Gurbani Singh was unavailable for comment.
Several Emory students who were interviewed had not been following the campaigns and said that they will abstain from voting this weekend. College senior Madeleine Norris said that she intends to vote on Friday, but only for candidates with whom she is familiar. “I’m going to [vote] where I recognize names,” she said. She added that she is undecided as far as where her votes will go. “The people I trust are endorsing different candidates,” she said. “I don’t know what to do.”