The aroma of free cheese pizza filled the Red Zone on March 6 when Shippensburg University students gathered to hear the speeches of student senators running for executive board positions.
Michelle Bradley was the first to speak at 7:30 p.m. Her former opponent for president, Dominic Giovanniello, dropped out of the race due to personal reasons.
In her speech, Bradley commented on the confusion that surrounds some of the rules of Student Senate. As president, Bradley would work to clarify these rules and make Student Senate more organized.
During the question and answer period, Student Senate Vice President Olivia Straka commented on Bradley’s young age, seeing as how she is a freshman running for president. According to Bradley, being a first-year student gives her an advantage because she has a fresh point-of-view on SU. Although Bradley is 19 years old, she is willing to learn quickly for the sake of Student Senate and the student body.
“I have no issue looking like an idiot and asking questions,” Bradley said. Serving as Student Senate President can be a challenge for any student, but through her time as senator for the class of 2017, Bradley has become very passionate about helping the student body.
James Wood, a freshman political science major, has recently decided to run for Student Senate President against Bradley. Since Wood is a write-in candidate, students who wish to vote for him will have to write his name on the ballot during election week.
Unlike the new candidate for president, Olivia Straka is a veteran member of student senate. She is running again for her current position of vice president. Instead of moving up to the position of president, Straka decided to run for vice president again so she can continue to vote in caucus and voice her opinions frequently. The president of Student Senate only votes in a tie.
As the chair of the student group and activities committee (SGAC), the vice president gets to work closely with clubs, sports and other campus organizations. Starting this year, the vice president will also have the power to vote on budget and finance committee decisions. The vice president works directly with student groups and the budget and finance committee deals with the allocation of funds within student groups. The hope is that the vice president’s experience will benefit the decisions of budget and finance.
During the question and answer period after Straka’s speech, she admitted that there is some “bad blood” between student senate and some student groups. This may be due to the stricter policies SGAC enforced this past year regarding paperwork.
“I can’t stop doing my job just because some groups don’t like it,” Straka said. To counter dissent among student groups, Straka wants the public relations committee to focus on promoting what makes Student Senate great.
Many SU students are still unaware as to what the purpose of student senate is and what it does for the community. Sen. Kevin Rezac is a strong proponent of supporting the students, which he hopes to do if he is elected as treasurer. “I know that a good leader is also a good servant,” Rezac said.
In his speech, Rezac stressed the importance of budget and finance committee working with SGAC. As the chair of budget and finance, Rezac would work to control costs and spending within student groups.
His opponent, Nicholas McClure has experience serving as a member of SGAC. This experience, McClure said, would be useful in the next year as budget and finance works more closely with SGAC.
Student senators posed the question as to whether the candidates for treasurer can make themselves immediately available to the president in last-minute cases of decision-making.
Rezac said he would be the man on call for the needs of student senate.
McClure takes extra classes in the winter and summer to stay up on his schoolwork and make his schedule more flexible.
Luke Perry, the current president of Student Senate, dropped many of his extra-curricular activities to become more dedicated to the executive board. “Senate has become my life,” Perry said.
After the senators finished grilling the candidates for treasurer, Rebecca Zelner took to the podium. If elected as secretary, Zelner would like to encourage more community service from student senate and SU clubs in general.
The secretary of student senate is the chair of the public relations committee and responsible for keeping minutes at meetings. Nickolys Hinton, the other candidate for secretary, was sick and unable to speak at the Red Zone event.
Zelner believes that community service has made her a better person, and she wishes to spread that feeling across campus.
Elections for student senate executive board began March 10 and will continue until 4 p.m. on March 13. There will be a table set up in the Great Hall of the CUB for voting as well as an online survey available through SU email.