Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

SGA Elections: Kundayi Mazando and Meghan Welch

A tight-knit friendship aiming for the SGA’s highest executive positions
Nathan Legare

For freshmen Kundayi Mazando and Meghan Welch, a chance meeting led to an unlikely friendship and an unstoppable fight to make their campus a better place.

Mazando, a political science and economics double major from Haymarket, Virginia, and Welch, a legal studies major from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, crossed paths after receiving randomly assigned dorm rooms directly across the hall from each other.

The pair quickly bonded, and soon realized they were the perfect duo to run for executive leadership in the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association (SGA), with Mazando running for president and Welch running for vice president in this year’s election.

“We’re both really hard workers,” Mazando said. “We’re friends and we’re literally just a knock away from each other right now. If I send her a text any time, I’ll get an almost immediate response.”

If their ticket is elected, they plan to create an executive board for each class at UMass. Each e-board will have a separate president and vice president who will be elected before the start of each academic year.

“We noticed that there’s really no organization just for freshmen, or organization just for a specific class on campus,” said Mazando. She joked that in the current campus climate, the best way for the student body to communicate is the UMass Snapchat story, so she hopes the e-board will better facilitate student interaction.

Also included in their ticket’s platform is a mission to hold the UMass administration accountable for racism on campus. Mazando believes that some members of administration have preconceived notions about people of color, referencing a recent Black History Month dinner at Franklin Dining Commons which served fried chicken and watermelon.

Both members of the presidential ticket are highly involved on campus. Welch is a part of the Newman Catholic Society, chemistry club and poetry club. Mazando is a member of the UMass Mock Trial club and the treasurer of the Northeast Housing Council, where she gathers continued experience with budgeting and event planning.

In addition, Mazando and Welch are in the UMass chess club and are both avid bakers. In high school, Welch operated a small business baking and decorating cakes for events such as weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties. Despite Welch’s professional endeavors, Mazando still jokes that she’s the better baker of the two, with her from-scratch banana bread recipe being to die for. “We’re so different but somehow it works…we bicker but it’s all love,” said Mazando.

Mazando and Welch are running against juniors Collin Humphries and Dale Leone, who currently serve as SGA senators for the class of 2025. At the SGA Presidential Debate on March 4, they claimed that Mazando and Welch’s ages and lack of SGA experience make them unfit for executive leadership. Welch rebuts these accusations, arguing that her ticket’s quick thinking and willingness to try new things give them a leg up in the race.

“I feel like telling someone that they can’t do something because they don’t have the quote-unquote ‘experience’ is just not right in my head, because you get experience by jumping into the boat. And that’s what we’re willing to do,” Welch said. “We’re gonna go in on that first day and be the best president and vice president that we can be.”

Mazando echoes Welch’s remarks: “It’s both us and our opponents’ first time running for president and vice president. Both of us have never been in the executive branch… we’ve been to senate meetings and we feel like we can fit that environment.”

While neither have held positions in the SGA, they believe their outside perspectives are beneficial for their campaign. “As an outsider, we see where SGA lacks, whereas when you’re an insider, you only see the in-house politics or drama that goes on.”

When asked how her administration would help combat the ongoing housing crisis at UMass, Mazando advocated for a reduction in admitted students, encouraging more students to be waitlisted, as incoming freshmen who are unsure about attending the University will likely look elsewhere. Welch agrees, arguing that UMass’s over admittance of students comes from a misunderstanding of the college’s public perception.

“When my brother went to college six years ago, it was known as a party school that wasn’t that difficult to get into,” Welch said. “Over time, it’s gotten harder to get into UMass Amherst, and our administration doesn’t completely get that.”

As SGA president and vice president, Mazando and Welch will uphold viewpoint neutrality when it comes to RSO budgeting, not favoring one student group over another. “We have a Republican club, we have Democratic, communist, socialist clubs, we have like every club you can find, especially on the political scale,” Welch said. “None of them should be getting treated any differently just because someone in the SGA doesn’t agree with them.”

In addition, they aim to improve the communication between the SGA and the student body, being open and transparent leaders. Welch feels that the SGA president and vice president should be approachable role models for all students: “If you need something, email us, text us, come see us. We’re here to help you.”

The voting period for the SGA presidential race opened on Monday, March 11 and will end on Wednesday, March 13 at 11:59 p.m.

Nathan Legare can be reached at [email protected].

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