By Madelin Shelton —
Candidates for the University of Louisville Student Government Association’s Top 4 positions participated in a forum last week about their platforms. The positions for Top 4 include Student Body President, Executive Vice President, Academic Vice President and Services Vice President.
The SGA election will take place from March 1 to March 3. Ballots will be sent to U of L students through their email.
Student Body President / Executive VP:
Candidates: – Ugonna Okorie (President) and Sydney Finley (EVP)
The candidates for both Student Body President and Executive VP are running unopposed as one ticket.
Okorie focused on her three initiatives of reshaping SGA culture to allow for greater accountability, pushing for progress and anti-racism initiatives.
For reshaping SGA, Okorie wants to begin Senate recaps, monthly updates and regularly updating the SGA website.
She hopes to push for progress by advocating against unnecessary fees and tuition costs and amplify student voices in university administration.
When asked about how she would stand up for students in her role and make sure their values were represented, Okorie detailed her desire to make Senate meetings advertised more openly so that more student voices can be heard during those meetings. She also pointed to a broader desire to get a more diverse set of students involved in SGA as a whole to ensure different perspectives are being heard.
Finley focused on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, emphasizing campus safety and increasing student accessibility to student resources. Findley also detailed her plan to stay in touch with student organizations.
“One of the main things I plan to do should I be elected Executive Vice President is reaching out to different student organizations on campus,” she said. “Specifically, RSOs that represent stakeholders in really important campus issues that are at the forefront of student discussions and making sure that I’m getting information from those students.”
Academic Vice President:
Candidates: – Alexa Meza
– Jacob Schagene
Meza’s campaign for Academic VP is about questioning current methods of grading, evaluating and teaching and introducing accessible and inclusive methods that help students succeed while at U of L.
Meza also echoed the importance of having adequate faculty representation when asked about how she would work to increase diversity in this area.
“I think that when faculty members look like us and have experiences similar to us, that’s when students really thrive,” she said.
Schagene has centered his campaign on building back trust between students and faculty, and between faculty and the administration that, he believes, has deteriorated in relation to the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m going to fight to make online learning more accessible and also to make online learning less discriminatory,” he said.
Addressing the same question about faculty representation as Meza, Schagene said, “Faculty come and go but it’s not something that we can change overnight in regards to the representation of faculty members,” he said. “I think it’s important that we analyze faculty departments where there’s not been a lot of change in the faculty and how we can help them to better promote the ideas of representation and what positions we could put in place there in order to allow students to have some sort of representation in this area.”
Services Vice President:
Candidates: – Grayson Stinger
– Eli Cooper
The candidates for Services VP are Grayson Stinger and Eli Cooper.
Cooper’s candidacy for SVP is centered around being a voice for divestment and an agent for change in all meetings with the administration. He discussed how his platform of divestment could help the university reach its goal of being anti-racist.
“Specifically, for Services Vice President, as my responsibility as a candidate, I think divestment in all instances of the world, divestment from fossil fuels, divestment from Aramark, divestment from ULPD, everything,” he said. “I think that is one of the biggest impacts we can have to move towards being an anti-racist institution.”
Stinger is focusing his candidacy on student health, student inclusion and student advancement. When asked about the university’s anti-racism initiatives, Stinger echoed the other candidates in saying the university isn’t doing enough and said it was a top-down issue.
“One of the things I want to start if I become elected as Services Vice President is mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all staff and faculty on campus,” he said.
File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal