The Student Government Association general elections opened to the student body yesterday, an election that SGA President Surbhi Pathak said was more competitive than in past years.
This year’s presidential race consists of three candidates: junior Jaimelynn Kisthardt, senior Joe Chen and junior Jalina Wayser.
All three nominees attended March 12’s Meet the Candidates event, from 4-6 p.m. in the Chamberlain Student Center Pit, in which students expressed their concerns and asked how the candidates would address them.
The candidates were contacted via email in order to gain an exclusive look into their previous experience and qualifications for office, as well as their plans for the future, if elected.
Kisthardt, a biology major, currently serves on the SGA e-board as assistant vice president of Facilities and Operations, and has helped extend Jazzman and Campbell Library hours during finals, improve the Rowan shuttle service and aid in adding water bottle refilling stations in some of the academic buildings.
Kisthardt thinks that the SGA needs to be more involved with students, effectively voicing their concerns and fighting for changes within the administration.
“A lot of students just see SGA as a governing body and do not utilize it as a resource to get involved and have a lasting effect on the community,” Kistheardt said.
If elected president, Kishardt said she intends to create more collaborative events to engage students and leave a greater impact on the university and the surrounding area.
“We are presented with a very unique opportunity to make changes within SGA to benefit the students and become more effective as a whole,” Kisthardt said.
Chen, a dual human resource management and history major, said that he is well-versed in campus policies from his experience with the Freshman Leadership Involvement Program, the Peer Referral Orientation Staff and as a resident assistant. Chen also has management experience serving as supervisor for the orientation staff and as president of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi.
Chen’s overall mission is to assure that the SGA allows the students to focus less on administrative functions and empowers them to follow their passions at Rowan.
“For the past few years, Student Government has lost focus on helping student organizations succeed,” Chen said. “As soon as an organization is chartered, not much else is done with clubs other than attending senate meetings, budget hearings and progress reports.”
If elected, Chen said he hopes to turn SGA into a strong support system for clubs in their times of need and push successful clubs to achieve even more.
“I can ensure constant direct communication with organizations [and] creation of workshops to help clubs looking to innovate,” Chen said, “I envision seeing the students in these clubs becoming more active on campus as a whole.”
Wayser, a dual sociology and political science major, has been a part of SGA since her first semester as a senator, serving this year as the assistant vice president of Governmental Relations.
“I have been working tirelessly to build student power on the local, state and national level,” Wayser said. “To make sure that students’ needs are being addressed.”
Wayser said that most of the Rowan-related problems that students face daily are because students don’t get an actual say in what happens.
“Administration may listen to our voices, but they are not processing or taking into account our concerns when making decisions,” Wayser said.
If elected, Wayser plans to increase the decision-making power on campus for students by ensuring that SGA transforms from solely an organization that manages clubs into a space that empowers and supports students to take action on the issues they face.
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