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Hostert and Balcom campaign for student involvement in SGA

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Hostert and Balcom campaign for student involvement in SGA

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By Alyssa Lukpat, staff writer

Nathan Hostert, a second-year political science major, and Dylan Balcom, a second-year behavioral neuroscience major, announced their campaign Monday for Student Government Association student body president and executive vice president, respectively.

Their slate, yourNortheastern: Hostert & Balcom, is one of two running to lead the student body next year. Students can vote on the myNortheastern portal from Thursday through March 22, and results will be announced March 26.

Hostert is the Student Government Association, or SGA’s, vice president for student affairs, and Balcom is SGA’s assistant vice president of student services. Their platform has three main themes: a proactive student government, increasing student involvement in administrative decisions and making Northeastern feel like home for all students.

“We want to lead a proactive student government that addresses issues important to students, from big picture issues like mental health and Title IX to smaller scale issues like providing good discounts to students on housing and meal plans being insanely expensive,” Hostert said. “Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white or a person with a disability, we want students to feel like they’re at home on this campus and there’s someone fighting for you.”

If elected, Hostert and Balcom plan to update Title IX protections, improve student support networks on campus and make SGA more inclusive by working with cultural and activist organizations.

Balcom said they are running their campaign with a platform addressing concerns across the university.

“We don’t want a buzzword campaign. That’s not effective or fair to the people who are voting,” Balcom said.

Despite being younger students, Hostert and Balcom believe their two years on campus have prepared them to lead the student body. Hostert sees their youth as an advantage.

“Older people on campus have a lot of experience, which is great, but it’s easy to get stuck in the way things have been,” Hostert said. “But when you’re younger and coming in with a new mindset, you’re really able to envision how things could be.”

Hostert and Balcom emphasized their desire to strengthen Title IX protections at Northeastern. Hostert said they want to increase resources for the Violence Intervention, Support and Outreach Network and inform co-op students of their Title IX rights. After Hostert learned about the #NEUToo campaign, he said he wants to create a system where students can inform the university if they have been sexually harassed on co-op.

Our answer when a student says they’ve experienced sexual harassment on co-op shouldn’t just be, ‘Talk to your co-op advisor,’” Hostert said. “Not every student feels comfortable doing that. So we need to have a system in place where we proactively work to make sure this doesn’t happen anymore.”

Balcom said his role as chair of the eight-member Renewable Energy Initiatives Board has prepared him to lead the SGA Senate. As part of his ongoing efforts to increase Northeastern’s sustainability, he is working to bring solar energy to campus. Balcom expressed disappointment that Northeastern has not yet acted on its promise to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent.

“Right now, less than one percent of our energy comes from renewable sources, which is not good in my opinion,” Balcom said. “I think we have deep enough pockets that we can make those investments on campus.”

Hostert and Balcom’s first priority if elected will be to reform UHCS. Hostert said they want to increase the number of mental health counselors and work with the university administration to extend UHCS’ hours for students on co-op.

“The thing that’s most urgent is getting more mental health resources for students,” Hostert said. “It’s really, really sad that we cannot support students who need our support. This affects so many students on campus. No one thing is a more important issue right now.”

During last year’s SGA election, Hostert was a campaign manager for the ReNUal campaign. His opponent for SGA president, Collin Walter, was the campaign manager for the Suchira + Paulina: “Believe in More” campaign. Hostert filed a grievance against Walter last year, stating Walter violated the SGA Direct Elections Manual when he said the ReNUal campaign did not stand with sexual assault survivors.

“I think it’s easy to look at this and try to say there’s some big political story here. But there just honestly isn’t,” Hostert said. “Our campaign this year is positive and forward-thinking.”

Max Willner-Giwerc, one of yourNortheastern’s two campaign managers, said Hostert and Balcom’s desire to help students makes them the best option for student body president and executive vice president.

“Their passion was something I noticed as soon as I started in student government,” said Willner-Giwerc, a first-year politics, philosophy and economics major. “I was really impressed with some of the policies the [ReNUal] campaign had and Nate was a big part of that campaign.”

Hostert and Balcom said no matter the election result, they will work to increase access to gender-neutral bathrooms and make housing accessible regardless of gender.

“Dylan [Balcom] and I are co-sponsoring a referenda question, right after people vote for us or against us on the ballot, to eliminate gender restrictions on apartment-style housing,” Hostert said. “We put this on the ballot knowing full well we might lose the election. Whether or not we win the election, we’re not going to go away and we’re going to keep fighting for this.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misquoted Hostert. The first sentence in the fourth paragraph should read, “We want to lead a proactive student government that addresses issues important to students, from big picture issues like mental health and Title IX to smaller scale issues like providing good discounts to students on housing and meal plans being insanely expensive.”

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Hostert and Balcom campaign for student involvement in SGA