Column: SGA elections depend more on personality


SGA election posters 2018 uniteNU and yourNortheastern

Jasmine Heyward, columnist

Last year, student body elections were defined by huge gaps in each slate’s platform. The ReNUal team didn’t mention Title IX, even though the Sexual Assault Response Coalition is perhaps the student group most engaged with the Student Government Association, and Suchira + Paulina received two demerits after two members of their campaign staff made derogatory comments about the omission.

Suchira + Paulina also didn’t mention college equity, frustrating voters who were concerned about that issue.

This year, both slates have learned from the past. This makes sense considering both presidential candidates were campaign managers last year: Collin Walter for Suchira + Paulina and Nathan Hostert for ReNUal. There are slight differences between the platforms of UniteNU and yourNortheastern: Hostert and Balcom, but in many ways the election comes down to each team’s approach.

Walter serves as SGA’s executive director of communication, while his running mate, Nina Kalantar, was parliamentarian last semester. UniteNU’s campaign site emphasizes their five years of combined experience in SGA, and their familiarity with the back end of the organization that keeps it running.

Hostert, the current vice president of student affairs, is running with Dylan Balcom, assistant vice president of student services. Both are second-years, and the yourNortheastern campaign emphasizes the policy that has been produced by both committees this year.

UniteNU’s 19-page platform is almost 7,000 words, while yourNortheastern’s is half that. Many of the policies are the same, and some could argue that both teams are making the same mistakes.

For example, both mention college equity, but the proposed solutions suggest their conversations with students have been limited. The plotter printer, an oversized printer specifically for printing vector graphics, is overpriced and difficult to access, as UniteNU mentions, but it’s also low quality, and many College of Arts, Media and Design students would choose to go to FedEx instead even if it was free. yourNortheastern dedicates most of this section to lack of college-specific workspaces, while also mentioning the cost of industry-specific software.

It’s good to see both campaigns address industry-specific expenses and spaces because these are very important issues on our campus. However, both slates fail to mention that in some departments, Northeastern’s course offerings and co-op opportunities don’t even allow students access to the knowledge and experiences they need to be successful, never mind the price.

As of March 13, there are nine animation co-ops in NU Careers. Six of them are abroad, and four of them are hosted by agencies, meaning that students have to pay a fee to work full time. Northeastern offers an animation major (technically Media Arts with a concentration in animation) but clearly isn’t prioritizing experiential education for those studying it.

These are the types of college equity concerns that can derail someone’s entire education, rather than just creating an inconvenient expense. With neither slate addressing them, it’s clear that students will need to stay engaged with student government and make sure their needs are understood.

First, though, students should decide which slate will be most likely to listen and is in the best position to actually make change.

Walter and Kalantar believe their experience and their understanding of all parts of Northeastern’s complex system of administration make them the best candidates. Hostert and Balcom point to the policy they’ve pushed through in Student Affairs, while also emphasizing the value of fresh ideas, especially in regards to issues that disproportionately impact younger students.

Last year, each slate espoused similar values, and, as we know, Suchira + Paulina came out on top. Their leadership, however, has moved more toward the center, with Student Body President Suchira Sharma and Executive Vice President Paulina Ruiz always willing to meet with students of any background to discuss policy initiatives important to them. Sharma not only has these discussions, but will bring them into her meetings with administration and follow up.

Will Walter and Kalantar do the same? Or is it better to trust Hostert and Balcom, who have also moved to the center with a less specialized platform than ReNUal had?

Students have the week to decide, as student body elections begin Thursday and end March 22.