The Maroon

Q&A with the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates

Jessica Molina

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Presidents

Amy Watkins

Amy Color.jpg

What is your previous involvement with SGA?

During my sophomore year, I served as a senator for the College of Business and it truly opened my eyes and ears to what it means to be a voice for Loyola’s student body. I gained insight and enjoyed every moment on Senate, but I witnessed a decline in the Loyola spirit among my fellow students. This decline only motivated me to do even more for Loyola and I was truly honored when Ellie Diaz selected me to serve as your chief of staff. The main purpose of my position now is to ensure everyone involved in SGA is thriving in their positions and ensuring everything we do is in Loyola’s best interest. I’m so proud of how much progress this organization has made in the past year and I want to keep the momentum going as your SGA president.

What made you decide to run?

I believe in Loyola and I believe in the potential of the Loyola student body. I am a servant-leader and I believe the most effective type of leadership is leading from the back of the Wolf Pack. I am running for your SGA president because I believe members of SGA should uphold our Jesuit values, leading by example by helping the students of this university achieve moral excellence. I am ready for the responsibility to transform your words into actions, reinvigorate the spirit of our university, and help our student body reach its fullest potential.

What changes do you want to make with this new position?

Over the past semester, I’ve reached out to freshman, sophomores, juniors, graduating seniors, faculty, alumnae and even some prospective students about their opinions of Loyola. The majority of my initiatives are based on this feedback because this is your Loyola. Our first major initiative is to improve transparency and communication between SGA, the student body and Loyola’s administration. One specific action to improve transparency is to facilitate and better advertise Senate Town Halls once a month so students have more opportunities to speak and be heard by the administration. Another specific way I want to do this is to compile a biweekly newsletter in the Danna Center bathroom stalls which would feature SGA’s current and future initiatives, upcoming events, campus resources and more. Our second major initiative is to push for more advertising and programs for mental health. We have seen far too many student deaths in our time here, several of which have stemmed from mental health issues. In the past month, I’ve agreed to serve on an interdisciplinary committee promoting emotional health and preventing suicide among college students. Check out our Facebook page or Instagram for more about your initiatives.

What are you going to do to encourage voters? (Last year’s election had historically low turnouts)

Yesterday was the first day of campaigning. Today and every day from now on, Megan and I will emphasize to everyone that when you vote in this election, you have taken the first step in making Loyola a better place for you and generations to come.

What would you say SGA actually does?

I believe there are three specific purposes to the mission of Loyola’s Student Government Association. The first purpose is to listen. Listen to your student body and actively listen to their concerns, ideas or questions. The second purpose is to learn. Learn about potential solutions to their problems, learn about campus resources, and most importantly learn from each other. The third and final purpose of SGA is to lead. Lead your constituents towards effective and positive change together. As president, I will establish and maintain effective leadership within SGA, and motivate my peers to listen, learn and lead to be the best they can be as modern day Jesuits.

 

Ben Weil

Ben Weil President Online.jpg

What is your previous involvement with SGA?

I was the first Music and Fine Arts senator to be appointed at the beginning of this school year because I saw that no one was representing my school in SGA and I wanted to make a difference. In addition, I became a part of the University Programming Board which is a prominent part of student government and plans all the classic Loyola events like Sneaux and Third Fridays. Over the past year working as a senator, I was a strong force in bringing mozzarella sticks onto campus, getting more recycle bins, transitioning from Wolfmail to Gmail, planning and setting up events like Crawfish in the Quad and constantly listening to the student body’s concerns along the way. I strongly believe that having the title of senator in SGA, or being a committee head in UPB, doesn’t mean anything unless I am working hard for the student body I serve.

What made you decide to run?

 

Over the past six months, I have run events on campus and had the honor to meet with students from all corners of Loyola. Hearing about their concerns is the reason I decided to run. I love this community and am forever thankful for all that it has given me. Now, I believe my running mate Blane Mader and I are the most qualified to make sure this beautiful community is changed for the better. I want to improve the lives of the people I love in what I believe is the best university in the world.

What changes do you want to make with this new position?

Blane and I have crafted a six-initiative plan for what we want to accomplish in office, with real steps to success. Each initiative covers an issue that needs to be resolved on campus and is inspired by the conversations we have had with our peers. Here is a brief breakdown of our platform … first, the “Find Your Loyola” Initiative is our pledge to directly promote the little nuances that appear on campus and that the overall student body doesn’t know about. For example, many students aren’t aware that there is a sauna that is open to all students in the sports complex, and only some students are aware of the study nooks on the fourth floor of the library. These small aspects of student life allow for our pack pride to be improved and more students to feel included. Second, our “Amplify Diversity” Initiative aims to bring student feedback as part of the consideration and process when Loyola hires new faculty/staff. Diversity is a huge issue, and we want to use our platform to connect the student leaders and the board of trustees to push the conversation forward. Third, is our “Maroon, Gold, and GREEN” Initiative which would allow for more recycle bins on campus, as well as more efficient printers in the library as to lessen the amount of paper waste. Fourth, is the “Professor Accountability” Initiative where we want to craft a bill with the senate that we would present to upper-level faculty that requires all professors to post grades on Blackboard. We understand it is an issue when students don’t know where they stand in a class heading into mid-terms or finals. Fifth, our “Post Grad Test Prep” Initiative is our push to get affordable test prep courses once-a-week for a semester for LSAT and MCAT on campus. Loyola offers great opportunities for after college, and this is one way to strengthen that. Finally, our sixth initiative is called the “All Loyola” Student Athletics Integration Initiative. This program would be installed by SGA to ensure that the sports teams on campus are getting the support they deserve, both in the number of people who show up to games and also in the funds to travel. In return, athletes will be more involved on campus, joining organizations and becoming campus leaders. I strongly believe our six initiatives will positively improve Loyola and make this community an even stronger one.

 

What are you going to do to encourage voters?

The best thing I can do to make sure that the student body gets out to vote is to relay how impactful student government can be. I want to make sure the students understand that this is about the future of Loyola and that they can make a difference when voting for the candidate they feel truly understands the issues.

 

 

What would you say SGA actually does?

SGA, with effective leadership, listens to the concerns of the student body and acts to make sure the issues are resolved. No school is perfect, but with the power of student government, we can work to make Loyola the best it can be. We love this community, but we know there is work to do.

Hernan Espinal

Hernan Espinal President online.jpg

What is your previous involvement with SGA?

My previous involvement with SGA is being president of First Year Council and being a senator for the College of Business.

What made you decide to run?

What made me decide to run is the passion I have to make a difference for Loyola and us as students. SGA is a voice for all students of Loyola and as president, you have the power to sit in on meetings with people who make decisions that affect all of us as students. I realized that I wanted to be the person to sit in that seat, not just sit in that seat, but own that seat and recognize that I worked to get where I am. I want to be a part of something that is larger than myself. Being SGA president would help [me work] to improve the quality of life for a lot of students on campus and I want to make that change.

What changes do you want to make with this new position?

I would employ a six-point plan:

· Diversity

o Make student government represent a diverse Loyola community.

o Implement an interview program where any person who wants to work on campus has to go through student interviews to give students a voice on campus.

o This will aid to diversify the faculty, staff and student leaders of the Loyola community.

· Transparency

o Keep the student body updated on exactly what is going on in SGA.

o Create a cohesive program for all aspects of student affairs in which all departments on campus are aware of current events on campus.

· Sustainability

o Have recycle bins on every residential floor.

o Incorporate divided recycling efforts to decrease our carbon footprint even more; aluminum, paper and plastic.

· School Pride

o Student-designed T-shirts and increasing the popularity of Wolf Pack Wednesdays

o Increase student attendance and provide transportation to Athletic Events on or near campus.

o Increase student attendance at musical performances by providing transportation or providing cover charges to shows put on by Loyola students.

· Communication

o Have a weekly president’s address to keep the student body updated on what is going on around campus.

o Increase support for student organizations that are struggling with attendance at events or student involvement.

o Increase communication with Tulane to allow Loyola students to benefit from their resources as they benefit from ours. For example Wi-Fi and swiping into LBC at night.

o Increase communication with all New Orleans universities to have various cohesive events to bring us together as students and to help the New Orleans community

· Resources

o Increase study space on campus. Make the green space outside of Monroe Hall accessible to students who want a calm and new place to study and relax. I would want to put solar-powered benches with charging ports and an umbrella out for students to use.

o Upgrade student ID cards. We would have access to apps such as GET using a CBORD platform to avoid lines at dining locations on campus. Be able to use our ID’s on vending machines and be able to “Tap” in wherever we go.

o Have Nola Bucks incorporated into student meal plans to give students the option to go off campus and dine with the convenience of paying with student dining dollars.

o Increase the number of practice rooms available to music students.

o Work with organizations that may need more allocations and assets, each on a case by case basis.

o Password Protected Wi-Fi to increase efficiency and reliability of campus Wi-Fi.

o Parking for students to be priced at a more comfortable rate and to accommodate for commuter students who want to stay on campus past 2 a.m. find a way to get rid of this last ‘ing’ verb; something like get parking priced at…

What are you going to do to encourage voters? (Last year’s election had historically low turnouts)

To encourage voters I want to motivate the Loyola community to go out make their voice heard. This election will impact the lives of all of us on and off campus and I will encourage them to take part in that difference. I will also educate students on how to log in to their OrgSync to vote for SGA candidacy.

What would you say SGA actually does?

SGA in the past has not met their full potential. What SGA actually does and what SGA has the potential to do are two very different things. Part of my campaign is to have transparency between SGA and the student body, this would come in the form of a weekly president’s address to the Loyola community. This would serve as a way of holding SGA accountable for remaining active and to continuously work on initiatives and improving student quality of life.

VP:

Megan Bourg

Megan Online.jpg

What is your previous involvement with SGA?

In terms of my previous involvement with SGA, I have been a member of the University Programming Board for the past two years. I have been able to work with other students to plan SGA campus-wide events for the Loyola community.

What made you decide to run?

What made me decide to run was that I want to make sure that our students’ voices are being heard. Even if they are not directly involved in SGA, I want to make sure that all the students on our campus feel that their voice will be heard and listened to.

What changes do you want to make with this new position?

One change that I would like to make if I were to get vice president would be to create mental health initiatives for our students. I feel that working alongside the University Counseling Center would be beneficial to provide more programs to students to educate them on mental heath and bring awareness to our campus.

What are you going to do to encourage voters?

To encourage voters, I plan to just really push going to the open polls that will be located in the Danna Center on voting days. I want to encourage all the students to go out and vote, regardless of who they decide to choose as their candidates so that their voice is being heard and is making a difference.

What would you say SGA actually does?

I would say that SGA works to be the “middle man” for the students of the Loyola community. SGA works to provide students with resources and information, as well as opportunities to get involved, in order for our students to know about what is happening with our campus community.

Blane Mader

Blane Mader Vice President Online.jpg

What is your previous involvement with SGA?

I have worked diligently as an active member of the University Programming Board within SGA for the past academic year. I also worked as a Krewe Leader with the Department of Student Involvement this past summer and fall semester.

What made you decide to run?

 

After Krewe Leading this past summer, my running mate Benjamin Weil had expressed interest in running for SGA president and asked me if I would be interested in being his vice president. Having worked with him all summer as Krewe Leaders, I was able to see first-hand how passionate Ben is about Loyola and the community. I knew that being president was not just a resume booster for Ben, but rather a way for him to really reciprocate his passion and energy for a school that has given so much to him. The passion Ben displays for this school is the same passion I felt when I decided to transfer to Loyola. I knew that I too wanted to give back to this amazing school in any way that I could, and I also knew that I could effectively do that by supporting Ben as his vice presidential pick.

What changes do you want to make with this new position?

Over the past academic year, Ben and I have listened to the voices of the student body and we have developed six primary initiatives that we would like to push for on campus. The six initiatives are just the start. Ben and I will have a suggestion box at all of our tabling events that we will give to the next administration regardless of whether we win or lose.

 

What are you going to do to encourage voters?

What I saw happen in last year’s SGA election was a version of the bystander effect. Students might believe that other individuals will vote on behalf of their interests and therefore they do not need to participate in voting; however, given that Ben and I’s slogan is “We Are All Loyola,” we will encourage students to vote because their voices do matter. Through our energetic and compassionate platform, Ben and I will not rely solely on aggressive social media output to remind students to vote, but also personal face-to-face interaction as well. When students are appropriately informed of how effective SGA can be and that Ben and I are prepared to represent the entire school as a homogeneous unit, we are certain they will be inspired to vote in this election.

What would you say SGA actually does?

I believe SGA serves as a way for students to actively represent their concerns and the concerns of others in a tangible and effective way, as well as allow for students to have an active hand in the many different things that happen on campus. Senate allows for individuals to represent the constituents of their respective colleges through operative discourse, whereas UPB [the University Planning Board] allows for allows students to dynamically plan and engage in the great events hosted on campus. First Year Council serves as a unique way for new students to get involved and find their place in the Pack as well. There is something for everyone within SGA, and that’s why Ben and I feel so drawn to it. We have the privilege to work in a room full of individuals equally as passionate about Loyola as we are, and it truly is something inspiring and special.

Anthony Rizzi

Anthony Rizzi Vice President Online.jpg

What is your previous involvement with SGA?

I have not had much involvement with SGA directly, much of my work has been indirectly in that working together with SGA on environmental programs and events around campus. For example, this year for Earth Week (April 18 – 22), SGA and the Environmental Department will be co-hosting April’s Third Friday. SGA is helping us plan, finance and fully support the event.

What made you decide to run?

I was surprised last year how inactive the SGA elections were and how disconnected SGA officials can be with the student body, and with that in mind, I believe Hernan and I have a great opportunity to strengthen that loose bond. We fell in love with this university and want to see it grow and thrive as much as possible, by being in office we have the capability to see that happen.

What changes do you want to make with this new position?

The three points Hernan and I have always discussed were Diversity, Transparency, and Sustainability. We want everyone, no matter their background, to feel like they belong and can work with/at Loyola University. With this said, students should have a say in the school’s diversity. We also feel the students have a right to fully see and understand details within the administration level of Loyola. This includes SGA. We hope to connect and mold a new bold bond between students and SGA. As sustainability, and coming from an environmental major, New Orleans is in the harbor for environmental issues for this nation. As a university, and Jesuit institution, Loyola should be at the forefront of the environmental movement in this city and in this country. But it starts with the students and the student leaders.

What are you going to do to encourage voters?

Engagement! Taking that extra step to restlessly talk and interact with every student as possible. This approach is not to increase voting, but to simply get students to think about the student government and discuss what changes we can make to better this university. In turn, we hope to see voting numbers go up and up.

What would you say SGA actually does?

SGA is a service. On the name tags and titles they say president or leader, etc., but we are here to serve the student body and university. The students, individually and together, are the true leaders of this community; SGA allows them to thrive in every direction possible.

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About the Writer
Jessica Molina, News Editor

Jessica is a mass communication senior with a concentration in public relations and a double major in Spanish language and culture. After working as a...

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