Nominations for the SGA presidency have just closed, and three sets of candidates have announced their bid for the presidency. The first ticket is the “establishment ticket,” consisting of Senator Lucas Gallo, Public Relations committee head, and Senator Rami Kammourh, Constitutions and Bylaws committee head. The second ticket is the “neutral ticket,” consisting of Senator and former Special Interests subcommittee head Dakota Van Deursen, and Senator Marianna Flemming, Academic and Curriculum Advancement committee head. The third and final ticket is the “progressive and active ticket,” consisting of Senator Melanie Caba, Health and Wellness committee head, and Professional Societies subcommittee head Jose Angeles.
The first set of candidates is by far the weakest choice. Lucas Gallo and Rami Kammourh are the “established” ticket. Gallo has been in the SGA since Fall 2015, and Kammourh since Spring 2015. Both are two of the longest-serving members of the Senate. However, they have failed to show notable progress in serving the Stevens community during their time as senators. Gallo has been a senator for two and a half years and he has only sponsored the gender-neutral housing initiative. While it is big, with his tenure in the SGA – especially with it being the main selling point of his campaign – he should have more items on his resume. His only recent initiative, improving public relations, has been done with a newsletter that I haven’t received. In contrast, Kammourh has made progress recently by trying to “clean up” the constitution and bylaws for the SGA; however, despite the great job he is doing with it, it is a behind-the-scenes job. The Constitution will simply pass with a very small minority of the student body having actually read it. The ticket, with Gallo at the front, represents the stagnant status quo within the SGA. Their platform only states initiatives the SGA is currently working on; they have little “new vision” to guide the school. The president should be looking to improve and bring fresh ideas to the table. Their “tenure” is the main selling point of their campaign, but it is not that strong. He has almost nothing to show for it; he should have accomplished much more as only of most established senators within the SGA. He brings up problems in his platform but offers no immediate solutions. We don’t need more of the same from our next president, we need something different.
Who’s the next set of candidates? The more neutral option: Dakota Van Deursen and Marianna Flemming. While they are miles better than the “establishment” ticket of Lucas Gallo and Rami Kammourh, they don’t have the track record as Melanie Caba and Jose Angeles. Van Deursen has been working on an LGBTQ-friendly solution for the Gianforte naming issue, while Flemming has been working on improving mathematics recitations. Both have initiative and have started to make progress on both issues, but from an outside perspective, there is little “proof” that they have accomplished anything. They a bit of a risky choice; however, the drive they show towards making change is very promising.
The last ticket, and by far, the strongest ticket, is Melanie Caba and Jose Angeles. Melanie Caba has shown more drive and initiative — and has used that drive and initiative — to make more of an impact than anyone else on the SGA. Since being elected as a senator, Caba has made tremendous strides in improving the ability of students to stay safe and healthy at Stevens. She has single-handedly made strides towards many great initiatives including having STD/STI testing readily available for students, having condoms available for students freely in the dorms, having women’s health products available, suggesting a speech for freshman instead of a debate, and much more. She has made more visible progress — and arguably actual change — than anyone else on the SGA. She is the progressive that should lead the student body and the Student Government Association for the next year. And her running mate, Jose Angeles, is also a very strong choice. Angeles does not have SGA experience, which is vital: it gives him a strong connection to the student body. Jose is currently the Professional Societies subcommittee head. As head of this subcommittee, he is the liaison between one of the largest groups of Registered Student Organizations at Stevens; he is well-connected and in touch with a large portion of the student body. Jose also has connections within the diverse Greek community as president of Lambda Upsilon Lambda, and with the administration as a member of the Student Faculty Alliance. Together, they make an extremely strong ticket for the SGA presidency and vice presidency.
Regardless, I am interested to see what each candidate says at the upcoming presidential debate. Let’s see if the best ticket, Melanie Caba and Jose Angeles, can prove that they can hold strong, and convince the general student body that they are the clear best choice for the presidency. The SGA Presidental Debate is Wednesday, November 1st in Babbio 122.