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yourNortheastern wins SGA elections amid record turnout

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yourNortheastern wins SGA elections amid record turnout

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By Alyssa Lukpat, news staff

Nathan Hostert and Dylan Balcom were elected student body president and executive vice president, respectively, the Northeastern Student Government Association announced Monday.

This election saw a record-high voter turnout of 7,921, which is about 42 percent of the undergraduate student body, according to elections chair Kathleen Ballard. Hostert and Balcom received about 45 percent of the vote, while almost 30 percent of voters selected Collin Walter and Nina Kalantar of uniteNU. Nearly 25 percent of voters said they had no confidence in either slate.

Hostert and Balcom’s slate, yourNortheastern, campaigned to improve Northeastern’s mental health resources, Title IX services and on-campus housing, along with other student services. Hostert and Balcom said they are ready to initiate reforms that will improve students’ daily lives.

“We’re honestly just so excited and honored to have the support of so many students,” Hostert, a second-year political science major, told The News before the Student Government Association, or SGA, Senate meeting. “We can’t wait to get to work on making Northeastern a better place for all students.”

This election season had less controversy than last year, with only one failed grievance filed by an anonymous student alleging voter intimidation by a yourNortheastern campaign worker. Hostert and Balcom congratulated Walter and Kalantar for running an effective campaign.

“We want to thank them for giving all their efforts and maintaining that positivity and that healthy mentality on the campaign trail and not letting it turn into something that wasn’t that,” said Balcom, a second-year behavioral neuroscience major.

While Hostert and Balcom campaigned on different initiatives than Walter and Kalantar, Hostert said both slates had a common goal: to improve student life at Northeastern.

“At the end of the day, both of our campaigns were about making this university a better place,” said Hostert, SGA’s current vice president for student affairs. “Even though we had different ideas for how to do that, we’re so proud and happy of the work that they did.”

Walter is hopeful that Hostert and Balcom will work on innovative projects that fulfill their campaign promises. He and Kalantar will not stop working on behalf of the student body, Walter told The News.

“I’m sorry to those of you who supported us that we weren’t able to deliver on our promise of leading a student government that’s more actionable, accountable and accurately representative of you,” Walter said. “Nina and I are not exactly certain in what capacity we’ll be doing it, but we want to ensure that the student government will be fighting to serve its peers.”

Hostert and Balcom said they are excited to serve the student body and plan to act on all their campaign promises.

“All these ideas that we told the students we want to change, it’s our time to step up to the plate and make those things happen,” said Balcom, SGA’s current assistant vice president of student services. “It’s our time to accurately reflect the views of the student body and what they want to see happen on this campus.”

Balcom said much of the student body thinks SGA is ineffective. In addition to increasing student involvement in administrative decisions, Hostert and Balcom hope to bring internal reforms to SGA to make it more proactive.

“One thing that we saw a lot of in this campaign is that students are really frustrated with SGA,” Hostert said. “I do not think we can have an effective student government unless we take a serious look at ourselves and start making real changes in the way that we operate.”

Before Hostert and Balcom take office July 1, they want to offer support to the other sponsors of the four referenda, which all passed. Hostert and Balcom were among six sponsors of the referendum to make all on-campus apartments gender-neutral. Students voted to pass three more referenda: accrediting UHCS, collecting compost on campus and publicizing Northeastern’s investments.

Jake Grondin, a third-year biology major, was the lead sponsor of the referendum to remove gender restrictions from Northeastern’s apartment-style housing. Northeastern Housing and Residential Life opted not to remove the restrictions after the SGA Senate voted in favor of it last year. Grondin hopes Housing and Residential Life will implement this change now that students have voted on it.

“Even if this policy benefits one student, but hurts nobody, this should be something that Housing is willing to implement,” Grondin said. “Now that the student body has voiced their opinion and said this is a positive change they’re willing to implement, we’re working on bringing this back to Housing.”

The Roosevelt Institute at Northeastern University sponsored the referendum to accredit Northeastern University Health and Counseling Services, or UHCS, based on standards from the International Association of Counseling Services. Katherine Scotti, a member of the Roosevelt Institute, is hopeful that students will have a say in how UHCS uses its funds.

“A lot of students agreed UHCS is not sufficient in the mental health services it provides in terms of availability and accessibility,” said Scotti, a first-year political science and international affairs combined major. “Northeastern will have to put resources forth in order to make improvements.”

Northeastern students may see more compost collection bins on campus this year. The Husky Environmental Action Team, or HEAT, sponsored the referendum to collect compost in every residence hall and food facility on campus.

HEAT was unavailable for comment.

Students voted to pass Northeastern Students for Justice in Palestine’s referendum asking the university to publicize its investments. Now, the Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, plan to pressure the Northeastern administration to publish a list of companies and funds the university invests in, said Sean Connelly, a member of SJP.

“We’ll meet with the administration and talk about if they would like to voluntarily release this information,” said Connelly, a fourth-year English major. “In the case they decide they don’t want to release the information, we’ll try to put external pressure on the school, such as signing petitions.”

Hostert and Balcom said they hope to provide SGA resources to the sponsors of the four referenda. They also want to implement their campaign initiative to make Northeastern feel like home for all students.

“We’re ready to make some changes that make students actually feel represented in their student government,” Balcom said. “There are a lot of things that have gone long [overdue] here and we want to make sure they get done.”

Hostert said his administration will advocate on behalf of the student body.

“We’re ready and excited to work with you,” Hostert said.

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yourNortheastern wins SGA elections amid record turnout