Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Student Government Association election opens Tuesday

By Conor Snell

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Cade Belisle/Collegian

On Tuesday, students of the University of Massachusetts will be able to vote for the president and vice president of the UMass Student Government Association, along with the student trustee for the 2013-14 academic school year.

Polls will open online through Campus Pulse at midnight Tuesday, and will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.

Students may also vote in person at a voting table to be set up in the Campus Center between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on election days.

Students will also vote on a referendum question regarding continued funding of the political interest group MASSPIRG through the $11 per student, per semester fee approved by students in 2011. Approval of the measure will maintain funding and will keep the $11 fee included in the cost of tuition.

The election ballot will offer students a choice between two campaigns. On one side is Zachary Broughton for president, with Emily Hajjar for vice president and Garrett Gowen for student trustee; they will oppose Darlene Vu for president, with Preston Davis for vice president and Megan Kingston for student trustee.

The candidates will meet for a formal debate on Tuesday from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.

The Broughton/Hajjar/Gowen campaign describes itself as a “ticket of experience.” Broughton, a junior dual-major in political science and legal studies, has been with the SGA for all of his three years at UMass, having served as a senator on the Ways and Means Committee for his first two years, prior to his current position as SGA Secretary of Finance. This year he led a successful campaign to increase the Student Activity Trust Fund fee to $125, and said that as president, he will continue to fight for more funding and support for student groups.

Broughton stresses the importance of affordability at UMass, saying that it “is necessary to readjust the tuition structure in order to keep the school affordable for students.” He hopes to push through the tuition freeze conditionally promised by UMass President Robert Caret in reaction to Governor Deval Patrick’s 50-50 state funding plan, a proposal to increase state funding to cover half of the university system’s costs.

“If the University is going to get millions of dollars in funding from the state, then the students should get a two-year tuition freeze,” Broughton said. “We need to keep this university affordable so that people can get the education they need.”

Hajjar, a junior political science major and coxswain of the varsity UMass women’s rowing team, served as Secretary of Gorman Hall’s house council her freshman year before becoming an SGA senator for the Southwest South area her sophomore year, when she “worked to make the SGA more efficient and transparent.” This year’s undersecretary of the registry, Hajjar has worked with RSOs and the registration process and hopes to put more control over RSO funding and approval into the hands of the SGA. She also has a “true passion for sustainability and renewable energy,” and hopes to better improve the single-stream recycling process on campus.

Gowen, a senior history and political science major and future UMass graduate student in higher education, served this year as the first vice president of the SGA. He began his UMass tenure freshman year as Webster-Dickinson house council president and SGA senator, and the next year served as SGA senator for Orchard Hill and chair of the SGA Finance Committee. In his work with current SGA President Akshay Kapoor, he worked with other SGA members to successfully fight against the elimination of the Peer Mentor Program and built a relationship with the administration that he said will help him “protect student positions while eliminating pointless or wasteful pilot programs.”

The Broughton/Hajjar/Gowen campaign also said that it will fight for more financial aid for students, cheaper and more efficient student parking, reasonable construction schedules and better collaboration with the Graduate Student Senate, the Faculty Senate and UMass administration.

“The three of us all have had different experiences with the SGA, and we all have some degree of accessibility to work with the education system here at UMass,” Gowen said. “We’ll continue to fight the bureaucracy while improving conditions for students.”

Opposite Broughton, Hajjar and Gowen is the Vu/Davis/Kingston campaign, whose “Turn Up Your Voice” campaign promotes better representation of students in the UMass system as well as better transparency in all forms of campus government.

Vu, a junior public health major, has been involved with the Vietnamese Student Association, RealizAsian and is a co-manager at People’s Market. Her running mate, Davis, a junior English and sociology major, has served as president of the Black Student Union since 2012, and has worked as the community director for the Center for Education Policy and Advocacy.

Both Vu and Davis are also involved with the Coalition to End Rape Culture, and Vu spoke at Friday’s rally on the steps of the Student Union during the culmination of the Week of Action Against Rape Culture. 

Kingston, a junior accounting major, works as a Residential Assistant on a Social Justice-themed floor and serves as a representative on the Bargaining Committee of the RA Union, as which she negotiated a $1.3 million raise for RAs in 2012.

The Vu/Davis/Kingston campaign says it will work toward getting “each individual student’s voice heard,” according to Kingston. The campaign slogan, “Inspire, Incite, Ignite,” is meant to urge students to demand better transparency in school administration and better and more equal representation in the SGA Senate, and pushes to “open a dialogue about student discipline with the Administration.”

“We plan to focus on dealing with students directly, regardless of their particular avenue or educational route here at UMass,” Davis said.

As members of various RSOs and student groups, the members of the Vu campaign promise to “reclaim student space, better recognize student groups and make the process of budgeting for RSOs and Greek Life easier and more accessible,” according to the campaign’s Facebook page. According to Kingston, the campaign also hopes to utilize the funding promised in Gov. Patrick’s 50-50 plan to initiate a tuition freeze for students in order to “make UMass more affordable for all students while maintaining a quality of education.”

“I think people see us as more of a holistic ticket,” Kingston said. “We have different experiences in leadership, different styles and strengths, and a strong student-oriented dynamic.”

Vu could not be reached for comment.

SGA Senator David Morin, who was voted onto the SGA Senate in early February is also running for student trustee, opposing both Kingston and Gowen. A junior history and political Science major, Morin said he will “speak out against student fee increases and advocate for reasonable spending cuts” if elected.

Conor Snell can be reached at [email protected]

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