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Q&A With the USGA Presidential Candidates

Karina Krul & Serena Piervincenzi, The Charger Bulletin

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Voting for the Undergraduate Student Government Association presidency begins on Thursday, Feb 21. We spoke to the five candidates running.

Merranda Zehner, junior accounting major

Courtesy of Merranda Zehner

Q: When did you decide you wanted to run for president? Why do you want to run?

A: “The thought of running for USGA President has been sitting in the back of my mind since I became a Senator. I always saw myself sitting on the Executive Board one day, but my passion for becoming President began when I saw how much of a positive impact can be made when holding a position of such influence.”

Q: What is your past experience with USGA?

A: “I’ve been involved in USGA since my first year at the University of New Haven. Sophomore year, I became a member of the House of Representatives for a Gold Status Organization. Seeing that I wholeheartedly enjoyed having more responsibilities in USGA, I decided to become a Senator for my junior year so I could get more involved with helping the student body. I currently hold the College of Business Liaison position where I work closely with the Deans to enhance students’ experiences within the college.”

Q: If you had to pick a handful of your major platform points to share with the student body, what would they be?

A: “My platform is focused on outreach, inclusion, and growth. Through making a conscious effort to reach out to more demographics on campus (students with disabilities, student athletes, etc.), my goal is to see USGA’s reputation become filled with positive interactions rather than a constant state of doubt and resentment. My promise to the student body is to put my best foot forward in order to see USGA and individuals within the campus community grow to their fullest potential.”

Q: How do you think you can make this campus a better place?

A: “I’ve worked tirelessly within the past year to make sure my face is a familiar and friendly one on campus. I am confident that this effort was noticeable within our community so students are sure that no matter what their issue may be, they can tell me and trust that I will not only work toward finding a solution, but also retaining confidentiality. I also look forward to making sure that USGA is more focused on assisting Recognized Student Organizations, and less focused on governing them. I believe that this will also provide a more comfortable atmosphere for students when working within their organizations.

Q: What is the one thing you want everyone to know about you as a candidate?

A: “My campaign and plans for presidency are solely based on the students’ and organizations’ needs, and not any personal gain. My intentions on this campus lie within what I can do for others and how I can make their experience more enjoyable, which is something that I pride myself on. The most important thing for students to know about me is that I have the time to dedicate to the student body–USGA is my main priority on campus, and I will put my best foot forward to make sure everyone benefits from that.”

 

Jonathan Matyasich, junior fire science major

Courtesy of Johnathan Matyasich

Q: When did you decide you wanted to run for president? Why do you want to run?

A: “I determined that I would like to serve as the USGA President towards the middle of my sophomore year. I want to run for President because I have dedicated my life to public service. My experience with serving the community has cultivated a deep passion for helping everyone possible, regardless of the circumstances or obstacles that we must overcome.”

Q: What is your past experience with USGA?

A: “I have been a member of USGA since the Fall of 2016. I became a House Representative for a non-top 20 RSO in the Fall of 2016; a Senator in the Spring of 2017, and this continued until the Fall of 2018; at which point I became a House Representative for a top 20 RSO. During my tenure with USGA, I have been awarded the unique perspective of the needs of the Senate, the House, and the middle. Additionally, I have served on both the Student Life Sub-Committee, Student Affairs Committee, and Points                                                                           committee for three full semesters.”

Q: If you had to pick a handful of your major platform points to share with the student body, what would they be?

A: “My work on campus has given me the opportunity to identify four specific areas that need great improvement. These areas include: communication, academics, student life, and empowerment. Under these four areas of competency there are a few objectives that will have the largest impact on the student body. These include: working to develop a strong line of communication between the administration and the student body; ensuring professors are held responsible for grading transparency and maintaining a safe classroom environment; providing joint committees with faculty and students to access the needs of the student body; empowering our student body to make a the difference they want to see on our campus!”

Q: How do you think you can make this campus a better place?

A: “Based on my various, pre-established, professional relationships with faculty and safe, I am sure that, under my administration, student’s voices will be heard louder than ever before. I will continue to put the needs of the student body above the wants of the University.”

Q: What is the one thing you want everyone to know about you as a candidate?

A: “I am running for this position because I am passionate about advocating for the student body. I want every student to know that I will not rest until every student feels safe, included, and accepted on our campus!”

 

Christina Genovese, junior communications major

Courtesy of Christina Genovese

Q: When did you decide you wanted to run for president? Why do you want to run?

A: “I decided I wanted to run for USGA President when I was a freshman. I looked up to the leadership in USGA, and went to all the meetings and became Class President and sat on the House. I got really inspired to make a difference, and in next two years my passion for USGA has only grown stronger. I wanted to run because I believe I can aid in positive change on campus and create a more transparent and inclusive community for the student body.”

Q: What is your past experience with USGA?

A: “I have been Class of 2020 President since Freshman year, been on the House one year, been Senate for two years, been on Points Committee, Budget Committee, the Charger Spirit Sub-Committee Head and the Studenr Affairs Committee Head. I also attended the American Student Government Association conference in DC my freshman year, representing USGA and our university.”

Q: If you had to pick a handful of your major platform points to share with the student body, what would they be?

A: “To further diversity and inclusion training on this campus not only for students, but faculty and staff. So, I would like to further work towards integrating a diversity standard into the university classrooms so that there can be a better relationship between students and faculty in years to come, and that students feel that they can be themselves and be free to voice their opinions. I also I believe it is important for the USGA Eboard to be transparent and work cohesively with the student body. A brief look into the idea I have for this is for the USGA Eboard to do more open office hours together across campus, and survey students each week with a different question and open to hear concerns. I would like to have more USGA exposure to the campus, and something that I believe could engage the entire student body in what goes on in the meetings would be to live-stream the USGA meetings.”

Q: How do you think you can make this campus a better place?

A: “I can make this campus a better place by listening to the student body and creating positive change. I believe every student on this campus brings something unique to our community, and that we should all work together to better one another. I want to make this campus a better place by taking action for the students of this university, and to be an active voice on campus. I believe I can be that female leader, who can carry USGA in a positive direction, and that with my goals and ideas, can aid in student driven change at the University of New Haven.”

Q: What is the one thing you want everyone to know about you as a candidate?

A: “I want everyone to know that with my passion for USGA from the last 3 years until now, that I feel I am a strong candidate who is well-rounded in what USGA stands for, and would want to make it even stronger. I want people to know that I promote inclusivity and positive change on campus, and that together as a voice we can make the campus community a better place.”

 

Ian Maloney, junior criminal justice and legal studies double major

Courtesy of Ian Maloney

Q: When did you decide you wanted to run for president? Why do you want to run?

A: “I decided to run for President around October 2018. Naturally, it’s always been something that I’ve considered, but when I became USGA Treasurer I was seriously considering running for a second term in that office. In any event, I decided to run for President because I felt that the work I put in and the impact I could make on students through the Treasurer’s Office was far outweighed by an opportunity to create an impact and lasting improvements on a much larger scale as USGA President.”

Q: What is your past experience with USGA?

A: “I was first introduced to USGA through the First Year Leadership Experience (FLEx) program as an incoming first-year student. Then, I went on to become a USGA Senator during my first year on campus, which included participation in the Budget Committee. Soon after, I was appointed to and served a year as USGA Assistant Treasurer. Last spring, I was elected by the student body to serve as USGA Treasurer, where I currently serve!”

Q: If you had to pick a handful of your major platform points to share with the student body, what would they be?

A: “Some of my major platform points are as follows: Continue the trend of streamlining USGA processes for student organizations; Support research to enhance the Coordinator of Inclusion and Campus Relations position; Bring the discussion on diversity & inclusion to everyone on our campus; Increase Charger Pride and reinforce that we are all Chargers; Expand USGA’s focus to all student concerns by strategically diversifying the Senate; Promote civic engagement on campus by uniting with other Universities on issues facing our local community, nation and society; Explore the transition of club sports oversight from USGA to ChargerRec.”

Q: How do you think you can make this campus a better place?

A: “I don’t think it’s possible for one person to singlehandedly make this campus a better place. Rather, it takes the actions of many to make the changes that we, as a community, have a longing to see changed. The way that I can help is by identifying the people and groups who are already actively engaged in discourse and efforts to improve our campus, and levy the full support of USGA behind them. One group that I am specifically interested in are the Diversity Peer Educators (DPEs). I think that they would be very successful as ambassadors working directly with USGA’s Coordinator of Inclusion and Campus Relations (CICR). By merging DPEs with USGA, we will introduce students to the University of No Hate modules through RSO involvement, residence hall outreach, and classroom contacts.”

Q: What is the one thing you want everyone to know about you as a candidate?

A: “One thing that I want everyone to know about me is that everything I have done and will continue to do is in response to what students wish to see from their leadership. I frankly and humbly assert that my efforts in USGA have been for the betterment of our student body; I hope that you will trust in me and allow me to continue serving you, and the rest of our student body, as your next USGA President!”

 

Kenzie Whiting, junior biology: pre-med major

Courtesy of Kenzie Whiting

Q: When did you decide you wanted to run for president? Why do you want to run?

A: “I have spent all of my time in USGA admiring the Executive Board, and as a Freshman, I never thought I would have had the chance to be on the Executive Board! Over the past semester, my admiration and dedication has grown substantially for all aspects of USGA not just the parts that directly affected me or my positions. As the Senior Vice President, I work directly under Parker and have been following in her footsteps to fully understand her responsibilities as the President!

I spent the majority of break debating with myself on whether or not I should apply for the elections, and ultimately didn’t know which way to go. I worked on my platform and my application over break with the possibility that I would send it in once we got back from break. My hesitation stemmed from my own intrusive thoughts, but in the long run my love and passion for USGA were able to overcome the fear in applying. After the first USGA meeting of the semester and seeing the issues that many RSOs were facing from the executive boards stand point, I knew that I would do everything in my power to make sure that all RSOs are give not only the best chance to thrive but every chance. I went home after that meeting and edited my platform so it could be uploaded with my application as the passion that I have was enhanced substantially from sitting through that meeting!”

Q: What is your past experience with USGA?

A: “I came into USGA as a first year student as the Secondary Representative for a Blue Status RSO, Love Your Melon, I them became the Primary Representative when the Executive Board at the time realized that our Primary Representative was actually a graduate student.  Then, my Sophomore year I became the Primary Representative for Up Til Dawn, and spent the year on the House and in the Points Committee! Now this year, I have spent the year as the current Senior Vice President and in association the committee head for the Points Committee! Throughout this year, due to the line of succession, I have also attended a few Judicial Council meetings and meetings with the Dean of Students.”

Q: If you had to pick a handful of your major platform points to share with the student body, what would they be?

A: “I think the key points of my platform revolve around the ideas of clear communication, a feeling of connection, mental health advocacy, and improving the newly paid positions of the Senate and the Coordinator of Inclusions and Campus Relations. I think my most important part of my platform is the idea of discussing and advocating for mental health. As a college campus, a large majority of our student body suffers from one form of mental health related issues. However, the idea of mental health is seen as taboo in certain eyes, causing many events revolving around it to be drowned out over other events. I believe that starting with USGA and expanding our reach with the discussion and implementation of more mental health resources, we can truly change the environment on this campus for the better!”

Q: How do you think you can make this campus a better place?

A: “I believe that the first place to start is building a connection between everyone; student, professors, offices, etc. I think so much information or understanding is lost due to the lack of connection we have with everyone on this campus. I want to make sure that all bodies feel welcome coming to our weekly meetings, or walking up to the CSELO office to ask a question! Without this basic connection, we loose out on so many opportunities to help each other thrive, many offices and RSOs will host similar events, yet one has a higher attendance rate due to extra credit opportunities, or just through word of mouth, where as if we just communicated with each other, we would be able to help each other and make all events successful!”

Q: What is the one thing you want everyone to know about you as a candidate?

A: “I would hope that the student body knows that I am running for them, as much as I had mentioned my own passion for USGA, seeing the passion that others have for USGA has made mine grow, and in turn has made me that much more passionate for USGA as well as the change for things that need to change. I believe that I give off a very warm and welcoming environment that hopefully any individual would feel comfortable coming to me for their problems, whether they revolve around USGA or not! I am running because I believe I will be able to make RSOs as well as the students and faculty feel heard and appreciated for their concerns and their ideas! I want to be the USGA President so that I can give all students the voice that they may not have, but certainly need.”

 

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Q&A With the USGA Presidential Candidates