The Student Government Association (SGA) held a “Meet the Candidates” event on March 21 to introduce the students running in its executive board elections, taking place from March 28 to 30.
Candidates for the four executive board positions of the SGA – president, vice president, treasurer and secretary – went to the Student Center to make their pitch to attendees as to why they should be elected to their respective positions.
Students tweeted questions and were rewarded with water bottles if their questions were asked. Bags of chips and popcorn filled the table in the back of the room, and even Rocky the Red Hawk made a brief appearance.
Matthew Lerman, Junior, Finance Major
Leadership positions: President of Interfraternity Council, Assistant Director of Greek Life and Activities, Former Vice President and Treasurer of Theta Xi
Matthew Lerman said his three main goals as SGA president would be “to build a better relationship with the Center for Student Involvement, to rebrand the SGA and to make SGA affairs more transparent.” Lerman focused on his experience within Greek Life, and made the point that he reduced Theta Xi’s debt by over 90 percent in his time as treasurer. In terms of increasing student involvement, Lerman advocates for building on the day of unity.
“We made a decision to change Greek Week this year. Instead of having a men’s fraternity bracket and a women’s sorority bracket, we combined the teams,” Lerman said. “There was a lot of controversy, yet I made the decision, because my job as Assistant Director isn’t to focus on one organization, but to focus on all the organizations as a whole.”
One word or phrase to describe the legacy he intends to leave at Montclair State: “Passion.”
Jean Camacho, Senior, Biology Major
Leadership positions: CEO of Scholars, Former Vice President of SGA at Kean University
Jean Camacho began by saying, “I’m running for president because I believe in our school.” Camacho stated that Red Hawk Day needs to become a Red Hawk Week festival, emphasizing that student involvement begins with kickoffs such as this event. Additionally, Camacho advocated for fixing classroom allocation so that students aren’t cramped in small classrooms.
“As a family, we have a large path that we can take to success. I believe that I can voice the concerns that our student body feels,” Camacho said. “I believe that, in running for president, you have a mission to the students. You have to voice their concerns.”
One word or phrase to describe the legacy he intends to leave at Montclair: “Renaissance.”
Juan Santana, Junior, Justice Studies Major
Current leadership positions: Vice President of Alpha Chi Rho, Resident Assistant Coordinator, SGA Attorney General
Juan Santana stepped to the podium and said three key elements to his platform were “visibility, transparency and advocacy.” When asked how to maximize student involvement, Santana stressed making Red Hawk Day something bigger and more interactive, as well as making it something that is consistently done.
“I’ll advocate for students when it comes to not tapping out to university administration when we are actually addressing them with hardcore issues, and letting them know, whether they like to say ‘It is all here’, it’s not all here,” Santana said. “It’s not all here until we have an administration that’s ready to not only sit down and talk, but sit down and listen to student concerns.”
One word or phrase to describe the legacy he intends to leave at Montclair State: “Why stop now?”
Welington Gomez, Sophomore, Public Health Major
Leadership positions: Resident Assistant
Welington Gomez took the stage and advocated for cosponsorship between organizations in order to promote communication and unity. Gomez said, “Concerns are never going to end, but at the end of the day, we are here to make sure we put in 100 percent effort to help our students.”
“I know that in an institution of 20,000 plus students, not all of our needs are met. We have such a big student body, and we just keep bringing in more people,” Gomez said. “What about their needs, and what about the things that are bothering them on a daily basis? At the end of the day, what really matters is the effort that the SGA puts in to try and solve these issues.”
One word or phrase to describe the legacy he intends to leave at Montclair State: “Transformational Experience.”
Kelly Szczerkowski, Sophomore, Public Relations Major
Leadership positions: Chair of Student Affairs Committee, Volunteer EMT, Yearbook Section Editor
Kelly Szczerkowski began her speech by saying she wants to bridge the gap between commuter students and residents, and increase student involvement. “I like to put everything I have into what I am doing. I’m passionate about this and it’s something I’ve been doing since middle school,” Szczerkowski said.
“I want to create a transparency between the administration and the students. Right now, there is a lack of transparency,” Szczerkowski said. “People don’t really know what’s going on, and they don’t know how things work. It’s just opening it up and making it more of an open-door policy.”
One word or phrase to describe the legacy she intends to leave at Montclair State: “If not now, then when?”
Gianna Zaino, Junior, Justice Studies Major
Leadership positions: Undergraduate Student Ambassador
In her speech, Gianna Zaino focused on improving communication and the SGA’s visibility. She specified that the SGA needs to have a greater presence at Accepted Students Day, as well as at orientations and Red Hawk Day.
“I believe communication is key. Communication between the organizations, the legislators and the general student body is needed more and needs to be a lot better,” Zaino said. “I want to help everybody in every organization meet their goals and exceed their goals. I want to provide more opportunity for students to get involved.”
One word or phrase to describe the legacy she intends to leave at Montclair State: “Diversity.”
Brenden O’Shea, Junior, Economics Major
Leadership positions: Treasurer of Newman Catholic
Brenden O’Shea promoted the idea that the treasurer should hold more information sessions with organizations on campus. “I want to be there for not just Class Is. I want to be there for every organization,” O’Shea said. “If a colony needs help filling out financial paperwork, I want to be as much there for them as I am for a Class I organization. Every organization deserves to be treated equally.”
“[Newman Catholic] trusted me with the responsibility of handling the budget. As a Class I organization, it’s totally different than anything I have ever experienced before,” O’Shea said. “What they teach you in economics classes applies to businesses as a whole, but [being treasurer] you actually learn how to communicate with others and effectively manage a budget.”
One word or phrase to describe the legacy he intends to leave at Montclair State: “We can help give back.”
Joshua Bishop-Mbachu, Sophomore, Biology Major
Leadership positions: Communications Director of Student Life at Montclair (SLAM)
Joshua Bishop-Mbachu took the stage and said his goal is to “minimize the doubt and maximize the experience.” In his mind, Class IV organizations should be the ones that work with the SGA the most in order to figure out how to fundraise and develop additional fundraising opportunities.
“I want to provide transparency within the student government so people feel comfortable coming to us with their issues,” Bishop-Mbachu said. “It’d be my responsibility to dig into what organizations are spending money on and allocate funds to the right activities that are trying to promote Red Hawk pride and unity.”
One word or phrase to describe the legacy he intends to leave at Montclair State: “Red Hawk pride.”
Vice President (Unopposed)
George Koutsouradis, Sophomore, Business Administration Major
Leadership positions: SGA President Pro Tempore
George Koutsouradis deferred use of the microphone and began by emphasizing that he goes to Greek Council meetings, even though he isn’t required to do so. Koutsouradis said he would like to go to all of the council meetings in order to tackle every issue at hand. He described his beginnings at Montclair State and said, “The first thing I did when I came to Montclair was grab one of those legislator petitions — I got the 150 signatures, and I joined the SGA.”
“The ultimate issue between the SGA and Greek Life is that there is some type of barrier there,” Koutsouradis said. “My goal as VP would be to crush that barrier and make it clear what exactly the SGA does for Greek Life, and what Greek Life does for the SGA and the campus as a whole.”
One word or phrase to describe the legacy he intends to leave at Montclair State: “Guaranteed.”
Board of Trustees Student Representative (Unopposed)
Hasani Council, Sophomore, Political Science Major
Leadership positions: Vice President of Residence Hall Association
To begin his speech, Hasani Council said, “My main goal is to reach out to different organizations and see what their concerns are and see where I can work with other representatives to handle these concerns on the Board of Trustees.” Later, Council added, “I wanted to be active on this campus, and the position seemed like something I really wanted to do, and it’s important to the career path I’m trying to take.”
One word or phrase to describe the legacy he intends to leave at Montclair State: “Dedicated.”