Q&A: Ramnath-Falco slate discusses major policy goals, reforms in SGA presidential bid


Kathan Ramnath and Giovanni Falco (left to right) are running for President and Executive Vice President of the student body, respectively. Elections opened March 20 and run until March 26. Photos courtesy Giovanni Falco and Ramnath-Falco campaign.

Two slates are vying for the positions of president and executive vice president in the upcoming Student Government Association, or SGA, elections, in which students will begin voting March 20 and continue until March 26. 

Kathan Ramnath, a third-year finance and economics combined major, is running for president with Giovanni Falco, a second-year criminal justice and political science combined major, as his executive vice president, or EVP. Charlie Zhang, a third-year sociology and international business combined major, is running for president with Matty Coleman, a third-year psychology major as his EVP in the CLEAN Slate Campaign

In an interview with The News, Ramnath and Falco discussed the priorities, major policy goals and reforms they would pursue within the SGA if they were to be elected. This is the second of a two-part Q&A The News conducted with both slates. 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

HN: Can you tell me more about yourselves as people? 

Ramnath: I’m a third-year finance and economics combined major and a health science minor. I’ve been in SGA since I was a freshman. I now run the Academic Affairs committee, doing things like textbook exchange and syllabi database tracing along with any academic advising issues. Outside of SGA, I do NUEMS, so I’m also an EMT in Newton on the weekends.

Falco: I’m a second-year criminal justice and political science student. This is now my second year in SGA, so I started when I was a freshman as well. I’m the political director for the Northeastern College Democrats and currently serve as an adviser on the Northeastern University Police Department Advisory Board. 

HN: What would your priorities be as president and EVP?

Ramnath: From a high-level priority, we want to focus on getting things done. So a couple of examples would be getting more gyms on campus and expanding the amount of equipment we have in our existing gyms. There’s no reason somebody should need to wait an hour for a squat rack. That’s ridiculous and should be an easy fix. Also making more study space available on campus. We have so many empty classrooms and empty rooms that can’t be booked because there’s no system to do that. It’s there, it exists. It just needs to be made more accessible. 

Another one of my personal goals is to expand the amount of health care offerings that are on campus. I really think there’s a lack when it comes to emergencies — both physical health and mental health emergencies. In conjunction with my work in NUEMS, something else I would want to push for from this angle would be getting an emergency medical response on campus that is not just NUPD or RAs, but a trained group of people who would be able to respond right away to students having medical emergencies. 

Falco: Since I’m running for EVP, I’m going to have a more internal role within the organization. I think one of the huge problems we’re facing right now is that [SGA] is not accessible. It’s confusing, it’s complicated. There are a lot of procedures and policies that bog people down and meetings are long, which doesn’t allow students to easily come and learn about what we’re supposed to be, which is the governing body for all students. A day one priority is to make sure that organizations and students have accessibility to SGA. 

I want to increase cooperation and communication between the student government and groups on campus. I want to make sure that students are coming to SGA with concerns, and I want to make sure that they have the tools and resources to draft legislation, bring up concerns and be able to access committees where most of the work is being done. 

Besides that, public safety on campus is really big for me. I really think that the NUPD could do more when it comes to community policing, timely warnings on campus and student safety. Kathan and I wrote legislation about Narcan availability on campus recently — that’s one of the initiatives I’m pushing for.

One of our major policy goals is public safety on campus. Mental health services don’t go far enough at Northeastern and we need to do more to ensure that students have access to proper mental health support and care. The second one is sustainability. One of my goals next year is to finish the transition to hybrid and electric vehicles of NUPD’s fleet and service vehicles on campus. The third thing is student life on campus — fixing gym space problems and residential life. People have been applying to Northeastern thinking they’re coming to the Boston campus and then get a decision letter saying they’re going to Oakland. I worked personally with the Mills team as they [were] incorporated into Northeastern, and I think we did a really good job at ensuring that that transition was successful. Now we need to revisit it because if people are applying to Northeastern thinking they’re coming to Boston, then get stuck in Oakland, that’s a problem. 

HN: Where do you see room for improvement in SGA and its process? 

Rаmnath: Fundamentally, a problem that we have is that SGA operates as its own club right now. People join SGA, they do things within SGA, but it’s somewhat insular. We’re coming up with ideas ourselves, which is great. It’s good that we’re trying to do something, but I think really the fundamental shift that I want to see happen is for the SGA to become an intermediary. We should be working with groups on campus who specialize in different things. We just had a great meeting about sustainability a couple of weeks ago, and I didn’t realize how many groups there are on campus that just eat, live and breathe sustainability. There’s no way that I will ever be able to know as much about sustainability as they do. But what I can do is use these resources as a platform to help amplify their mission and give them the tools that they need to succeed or push their goals along. So that’s kind of how I see the fundamental changing of SGA — for it to become not just its own group, but a vehicle to help students. There’s so much red tape on campus — let us be the scissors, help you get through.

Falco: There’s some restructuring efforts going on within the SGA right now, but it’s our belief that they don’t go far enough. We’re still worried about things like Robert’s Rules of Order and bylaws. Quite frankly, we haven’t done anything this year — we haven’t actually passed the legislation as a body that would really target some of the main challenges students are facing. We need to worry less on how we’re presenting or passing legislation and worry more on the substance of those bills. The second thing is that every student should be able to have access to administrators on campus — email Provost Madigan and get a response. What we want to do is be that gateway to the admin team at Northeastern and use our connections so that every student has access to that. I know there’s a lot of clubs on campus that have problems and they don’t know who to go to. I hear it all the time. So making sure that we have systems in place where students can report questions and concerns and make sure that we are monitoring that daily. 

HN: What concrete steps would you take to get more individuals and groups involved in the SGA process? 

Ramnath: SGA meetings are long and people don’t understand what’s happening. People are waiting for 20 minutes to vote on whether to be allowed to vote or not. These rules are good in some ways — it allows for an orderly discussion — but you get so bogged down in procedure, you forget what you’re talking about to begin with, and you lose out on what I think is the goal of [the] senate. You look back to a senate hundreds of years ago — a senate should be a forum for everybody to come together and give their ideas. Right now, it’s an echo chamber. That’s the reason that we should be trying to get every single club on campus to have a member who wants to come to [the] senate to talk about things that their clubs are facing and things that they might want to be doing.

Falco: We want to contact every single club and tell them about SGA and let them know they have the opportunity to have a senator too. We want to help them through that process so that they can become part of the organization. 

Ramnath: We’re asking these clubs to help build the organization. SGA should be run based on the members who are in it. SGA should be fundamentally driven by club interests as well as students who are representing their own colleges or their own groups. 

Falco: Another thing in terms of action is to have a Zoom link option for SGA meetings for people like me who are on co-op, across the country or world. Why is that link not posted anywhere? We want to make sure everybody knows the times and dates and places where SGA is meeting, including the committees, because most of the work that gets done happens in committees and we want people to be involved there in particular. 

HN: Why should students vote for your slate?

Ramnath: Actions speak louder than words. We’ve done things in academic affairs that have actually made students’ lives better, we’ve enhanced some of the questions for TRACE evaluations, we’ve built a textbook exchange website for students to sell their books and buy books cheaper instead of being stuck with the bookstore or trying to figure it out on their own. We’re also putting together a syllabi database. So next year, hopefully next fall, you should see data before you register for classes like what the syllabus looked like for a specific professor or course. 

I think we’re very results oriented. Both Giovanni and I, we want to actually get things done. We don’t need to be waffling around. We just need to sit down and get it done, meet with who needs to be met with, figure out who the decision makers are and start to get these things actually implemented. We’ve got a good track record of doing that in academic affairs. 

Falco: What sets us apart, I think, is that SGA as a whole tends to put politics over helping the students. Kathan and I are more focused on helping the people of Northeastern rather than focusing on the politics of SGA. We have implemented more things in our tenure than the others. And that’s just a fact. 

More information on the Ramnath-Falco slate can be found here. They can be found on Instagram and Twitter as @ramnathfalco.