Round 2 of Student Government Association (SGA) speeches educates voters on candidates

On April 7th at 6:00 p.m. in the Mary Lyon room, Round 2 of SGA speeches began. First to speak were those running for SGA Senate and began with freshman Kweku Ampem-Darko, running for Senator at Large. In his time here, Ampem-Darko says that he has “grown as an individual and as a member of Wheaton” and has a “passion for campus and its members.”

Ampem-Darko believes he is more than qualified to take on the position of Senator-at-Large, having been the treasurer for Wheaton’s Black Student Association (BSA). He has experience in event planning and knows how to execute from BSA. “Passion will make all the difference possible,” he said. He wants to change campus life.

When asked by a member of Wheaton what change he wants to make, Ampem-Darko said school spirit. “There’s something missing,” he says said. He has plans “to make events that’ll make Wheaton more cohesive.”

Nicholas Liotta then took the stage. Running for Class of 2017 Senator, Liotta believes that he is ready for the job. with incumbent Allison Guzzetti running as his partner. Brought in in Queens, NY, Liotta has brought the neighborhood together through various community events. “I know the importance of not being narrow minded and judgmental,” he said.

He also said that he knows diversity, as he had many interactions with people from various ethnic backgrounds growing up in Queens as well as being a POSSE scholar. “SGA is the most important connection between students and Wheaton,” Liotta said. “My partner Allison Guzzetti and I will fully devote ourselves to this position.”

Guzzetti is currently an SGA Class of 2017 Senator and is seeking reelection. Partnered with Liotta, she said that they can represent the freshmen class well. “I have taken Nick Liotta under my wing to show him how senate works,” she said. “We are both passionate about SGA.”

Guzzetti says that with her knowledge of how senate works and her ability to adjust quickly, she and Liotta can improve the Wheaton experience.

Jenish Amatya and Abe Ziner is the other duo vying for the spots of Class 2017 Senator. Amatya, having attended United World College, emphasized Wheaton’s diversity. “I know diversity and its beauty,” Amatya said. Amatya also said that he has dedication to the students.

Ziner started his speech with an observation — the lack of freshmen in attendance. He estimated about 15 freshmen were present and  noted SGA’s lack of connection to its constituents, which didn’t sit well with some of the current SGA members. Ziner said  if elected, he hopes to change the direction of Wheaton’s Senate.

Floriane Borel then opened the floor to questions. The first question was a hypothetical. The candidates were asked to suppose that there is a case in which life on campus would be improved but the actions necessary to achieve this improved would anger members of Wheaton and asked how they would respond.

Guzzetti said that this scenario actually happened when she was attempting to improve campus nightlife. Liotta supported her answer.

Ziner said, “There needs to be a balance of long term and short term happiness of those that’ll be affected,” and that he would consider those elements in dealing with the scenario.

The candidates were then asked to elaborate more specific ideas for improving student engagement. Guzzetti strongly emphasized the usage of social media like its twitter account, @SGAWheaton, and its Facebook pages. Liotta seconded Guzzetti’s response and added that he would  target a specific event such as athletic events and set up a table to gain feedback.

Ziner said that although a forum would be helpful, he believes that the dialogue of SGA needs a change in direction. He said he wants to acutely represent the members of Wheaton. Amatya supported Ziner’s response and mentioned TRYBE’s attempts to incorporate the multicultural aspect of student engagement.

The last question was how the candidates would react to hearing that SGA does nothing. Guzzetti and Liotta both would invite them to an SGA meeting and deal with the feedback in a positive manner. Liotta continued to explain that people feel as that SGA is a separate entity when it isn’t such.

Amatya said that SGA needs to work with the Wheaton administration and that he would try to do so if elected and Ziner responded saying that SGA needs to be proactive.

Next to speak was Adam Kilduff, current Class of 2016 President. As class senator, Kilduff’s initiatives would involve the Wheaton alcohol policy in regards to theme houses, as he is a member of one of Wheaton’s theme houses. He continued to say that although there has been progress, there is much to work on.

Another aspect he said he wishes to improve would be Career Services. Lastly, he wants to improve the communication between SGA and the members of Wheaton. Simon Pacht, the other candidate, was not present.

After Kilduff, Moyo Afolabi, a rising senior, spoke. In his past three years at Wheaton, Afolabi said that he was a member of Wheaton by routine: going to class, doing homework, going to the gym, and so forth. However, he says that he has now “gained a sense of obligation” to Wheaton and that he wants to leave a lasting impression on campus.

His goal as senator would be to enhance social life by improving communication between Public Safety and Wheaton students and theme houses, as he is a member of TWAP. He believes that communication needs to be improved, as the incident from last term caused a campus uproar. He said he is currently speaking with Dean of Students Lee Williams at least once a week trying to make her see the other perspective.

After the SGA Senate speeches were completed, Borel then introduced Molly Grannell who is running for Chair of the Programming Council. Grannell said she wants to promote student input, which was how selecting this year’s Spring Weekend artist occurred.

Clare Prober and Sam Hammond spoke after Grannell, running for Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the College Hearing Board. Prober is on the Executive Board of the Philosophy club, a member of SEGA, a club promoting sustainability and ecological awareness, and she also runs the Wheaton College Instagram account.

“Interaction makes me love this place,” Prober syid. “Being a philosophy major has given me invaluable perspective of the judicial system and the interpretation of rules,” she continued.

Hammond, seeking reelection, then spoke, saying that Wheaton is unique because of the Honor Code. The Honor Code ought to be exciting he said, and he intends to bring that excitement back.

Running for the Chair position of the Intercultural Board, Nani Manan spoke next. Currently the Vice Chair of the Intercultural Board, she is a women’s studies major and has worked with 13 intercultural clubs. If elected Chair, she intends to foster an intimate community.

Biljana Novakovic, who is running for Chair of the Education Council, then spoke. She said she believes that the Education Council has the potential to involve many and she wants to create change. Having held a campus wide position as Senator-at-Large, she has gained insight and plans to take advantage of what she knows and believes that she can work with faculty to host guest speaker events.

After Novakovic were the Representative to the Board of Trustees and Alumane/i (RBOTA) candidates Elena Llabovitiadhi and Liza Acevedo, who was represented by a proxy as she is abroad.

Llabovitiadhi has worked with STAC, the Student-Trustee Alumni Council, and says that she intends to work to connect alumni to connect Wheaton to the real world. She also seeks to bring alumni back to campus so that they can connect with current students now.

Acevedo, who was the RBOTA during Fall 2013, has conducted events such as Alumni of the Month in the past. Having been an intern at the budget office, Acevedo has also worked with administration, which she said she believes will help her.

Running for SGA treasurer, Michael Ratliff said he knows that this position is an important position and he believes he is qualified for it as he is “effective and organized.” He was a part of the financing committee as a senator and he knows the system. There is a “disconnect of student banker and SGA banker” and he intends to fix that if elected.

Seeking the SGA Secretary position, Katherine Elliot spoke next. As secretary, she intends to emphasize the importance of social media in the connection of members of Wheaton and SGA. “It’s important for there to be transparency at any level of government,” she says.

Elliot also said that without the constituents knowing what actions are being taken, there is no student involvement and a disconnect between the two parties. Furthermore, as a member of an a cappella group, she wants to make an investment in a sound system compatible with the chapel for events.

Alicia Alvarez is running for SGA Vice President. For SGA President, the two nominees are John Carando and Aicha Diouf. Diouf, who is currently studying abroad, was represented by a proxy. Known as JP by many, Carando says that SGA needs “openness and honesty.”

“There’s a sense of real potential for growth,” Carando said. Having been part of the Executive Board and STAC, Carando believes he’s capable of making campus comfortable. Diouf, through her proxy, said she believes that she is capable of being SGA president, having served as BSA Treasurer and SGA Secretary before.

Polls open April 8th and carry into April 9th until midnight. Every vote will count in this competitive election.