2020 SGA Presidential Candidates Announced
6 mins read

2020 SGA Presidential Candidates Announced

For the second year in a row, students have three running teams to choose from for Student Government Association president and vice president. 

The teams are Katie Brust and Erin Weightman, Abuk Jiel and Carter Larson and Carrissa Occhipinto and Blake Brown. 

The three competing teams were announced at the first SGA meeting of the decade on Jan. 21. The teams are now preparing for the campaign trail. 

Brust and Weightman

Brust and Weightman have a campaign centered around three components: advocacy, accessibility and affordability.

“We want to advocate for them. We really want to take action on their behalf and take their feedback and really put it into meaningful legislation,” Brust said.

They plan to improve accessibility by increasing awareness of resources. 

“We want to create better options, to know what resources are, know how to contact people, and just really revise how we currently are sharing that information,” Brust said.

One way to improve affordability, Brust said, is to extend the waiting period for when the cost of parking tickets double. 

Weightman said connecting with people will prepare them to lead the students. 

“When you can sit down and talk to someone and connect with them, that goes a lot further than a social media post,” Weightman said. 

Weightman said she and Brust also plan to talk to student organizations to hear what kinds of changes they want to see.

Some of their campaign goals include increasing enrollment and voter turnout for SGA elections. These goals are measurable and Weightman said that is a crucial part of their campaign.

“For us, we want to have something feasible and something that we can see results from and whether or not we’re doing a good job,” Weightman said.

In order to meet these goals, Brust said advocating for the students is key. 

“The student body needs to have a strong student government to advocate for them and so if they are left without a strong student government, then they’re probably going to be dissatisfied with their university experience and that will lead to a lack of retention,” Brust said.

Jiel and Larson

Larson and Jiel said they’re aiming to unite students and bring change to the student body with their campaign. 

“Our main goals are focusing on making sure that jobs are accessible to students, like the work-study jobs that aren’t really known on campus,” Jiel said. 

Jiel also said the team will advocate for needs-based scholarships and encourage students to be involved in student organizations on campus. They said they particularly want first-year and transfer students to be kept informed and involved at USD, so they don’t feel left out. 

The team said they are talking to faculty and staff to hear what issues are most important to them. Communicating with a wide variety of people at USD is important, the team said, because they want to adjust their platform to accommodate the needs of students and faculty.  

“We don’t want to make our platforms stuck in stone. We want to make sure that we are assessing all the needs of all students and making sure that all students are heard,” Jiel said. 

Spreading out their time and energy to all areas of USD, Larson said, is extremely important.   

“One thing that we’re trying to do is balance our energy on all of it, just so, because we don’t want it to be biased towards anything,” Larson said. “We want to be able to balance on all types of aspects on campus.”

Jiel said after announcing their candidacy, they started their tour of meeting with different student organizations.

“And that is just the beginning of our campaign road,” Jiel said.

Occhipinto and Brown

Occhipinto, a sophomore political science major, has been on SGA since she came to USD in fall 2018. Brown, a sophomore accounting major, however, has never been a part of SGA. 

The team said they feel Brown not being involved in SGA allows them to better represent students outside of the senate. 

“I think that SGA has a lot of potentials to do a lot of good things … to make a big impact, but it’s not always like what we do,” Occhipinto said. “Sometimes SGA kind of has a bubble, and just like think of thinking about what we want and like not taking into consideration the entire student body.”

Through their presidency, they would like to accomplish four main goals: offer open educational resources, create a downtown discount program, a total internal reformation and have SGA become more accessible. 

An open education, Occhipinto said, is something other universities have implemented. This program offers textbooks online. These textbooks are not published through publishers, but rather peer-reviewed. 

“It would lower the price of textbooks for students across the board, especially,” Occhipinto said. “We would advocate for the use of them in general education classes, which would impact like a large number of students.”

Their other goals focus on building relationships. Brown said building a stronger relationship with students and SGA will help them do the most good for the student body. 

“We have a couple of goals and things I think are actually attainable,” Occhipinto said. “We just to make sure that the senate is actually advocating for the interests of the entire student body and making sure that we’re actually making a difference on campus rather than just like coming up with ideas that we think people want.”