Everything You Should Know About the SA Candidates
Last week, two students, Aysha Seedat and Jane Hong, announced they will be running for president and vice president of the Student Association, SU's form of student government. Seedat and Hong are running unopposed, but they still need 10 percent of the student body to vote. At Jerk, we take these political matters very seriously, so we've broken down the details on everything you need to know before heading to the polls clicking some things on MySlice April 13 through 16.
1. Who they are: Seedat, the presidential candidate, is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her running mate and vice presidential candidate, Jane Hong is a junior in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Both women have been heavily involved in SA during their time at SU, so you can trust they’re knowledgeable of the codes, and we can hope for a year free of scandal.
2. If they know what they're doing: Yes, they actually do. Seedat is currently the director of the student life committee, which helps to improve students’ experiences here at SU. One of the committee's more miraculous achievements was bringing QR codes to the dining hall so students can see the nutritional information of what they’re eating (who knew that blueberry muffin had so many calories?). Hong has served on all four committees in SA and has been an assembly representative.
3. What they stand for: In their big announcement speech, Seedat said that her and Hong’s platform is “safety and support.” What exactly does that mean? Seedat and Hong think that students should feel “supported by the administration and the university as a whole.” Students have the right to feel safe and supported on their campus, and should be able to discuss things like sexual assault, issues of racism, and financial security without feeling excluded or silenced. Hell yeah, free speech! Syracuse has a diverse student body so naturally opinion and expression will differ — the candidates understand that, and want to create a “safe programming space” for students to discuss social justice issues. By this they mean an actual physical space for students of different backgrounds to have conversations. For the safety aspect, the candidates want to strengthen the already existing campus escort service because they believe no student should be walking our campus in fear.
4. Their battle song: On another very serious note, I asked Seedat and Hong what their battle song would be if the elections were decided through a sing-off. The two chose Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” as their song. Bow down, bitches.
5. What they're going to do: Seedat and Hong have a few cool proposals. For starters, talking about mental health and starting a mental health awareness campaign on campus. They also want to work to integrate new students into campus life faster. The candidates are working on an initiative to allow transfer students to participate in Greek life during their first semester on campus. Another part of their “support” platform is the idea of developing an app that would provide real-time tracking of buses and their routes. Hooray, no more standing in the cold because you missed your bus by 4 or 5 seconds!
6. On history in the making: This is the first time in SA history that two women of color could potentially be elected to the highest offices, so I asked the canidates if they felt any pressure to perform above and beyond because of this. Hong said she doesn’t feel more pressure to perform exceptionally, but does want to “fulfill the expectations that come along with my position.” Seedat, however, sees this election as a way to break barriers as a woman from a Pakistani family. "Most women in South East Asia don’t really take on these sorts of leadership roles because it’s not in our culture to do so," she says. "So I don’t necessarily feel pressure, but I do feel like there isn’t much of an example set for girls coming from that part of the world."
7. Their favorite TV characters: You can tell a lot about a person based on their TV preferences. Hong’s favorite character is Leslie Knope from the recently departed Parks and Recreations (gone but never forgotten). She said she admires Knope because of her overzealousness to serve her community. Seedat also likes Leslie, but says her favorite character is Creed Bratton from The Office because he’s “one of the most random, out of place characters in the show,” yet he makes himself known at the company.
8. On running unopposed: You’d think that running unopposed would be the best feeling in the world and the greatest relief. Wrong. According to the two women it’s actually harder because you have to show students “who they are voting for and what they believe in.” So in that spirit, the Seedat and Hong will be out campaigning and hoping to meet as many students as possible in the next few weeks. Let's hope they'll be giving out free snacks, too.
Photo courtesy of Drew Osumi