The 2018 candidates for Gonzaga Student Body Association (GSBA) president, vice president, speaker of the senate, and treasurer answered questions about their platform at a forum in Joan Jundt Lounge inside Hemmingson Center, Tuesday night.
Candidates for GSBA president and vice-president on the same ticket, this years candidates for the positions are as follows: Junior Kimberly May is running for president with her sister, junior Caitlin May as vice president. Junior JamesDaniel Valle is running for president alongside junior Connor Hayes. Junior Athena Sok is running for president with vice president freshman Trent Smiley.
The theme of the night was diversity, inclusion, and bridging the gap between the GSBA Senate and the student body with all three tickets emphasizing the importance of those issues.
Kimberly May is looking to be GSBA’s first female president since 2008. She is currently GSBA’s Director of Clubs and Organizations and while Caitlin May has not had any GSBA experience she touts numerous clubs and leadership programs on campus.
The May sisters are running on a platform that continues conversations about gender-inclusive housing, sexual assault, and handicap access to campus bathrooms. Kimberly May also cites the positive mood of Gonzaga’s campus as a motivating factor for her campaign.
“We want to preserve the special, unique atmosphere of Gonzaga,” she said.
Valle has been on the GSBA senate for the past two semesters, while Hayes is the current Speaker of the Senate.
Valle and Hayes want to ensure that first-year students are engaged with the GU community, a goal that stems from Valle’s time as an RA, which he sites as an influence on his Gonzaga experience.
“I want to make sure that the moment a student walks on campus they understand what is available to them and that they can go make an impact as a part of a club or an organization,” Valle said.
Sok, the former GSBA Campus Inclusivity Coordinator, is looking to be GSBA’s first ever female Asian-American president.
“My goal is to build a foundation for generations to come to succeed,” she said.
Sok and Smiley hope to continue the work done in regard to gender-inclusive housing and hope for greater inclusion of international students in the GU student community. Smiley, GSBA freshman class senator, hopes that his unique voice can allow for meaningful change in the vice-president role.
One question from the audience asked the candidates to describe specifically what they will do to help empower the concept of diversity and inclusion at GU.
Valle and Hayes explained that their goal was to understand what each student has to deal with on campus and that they wanted to help the marginalized communities in understanding their issues.
Hayes pointed to a conference on white-privilege he went to as a freshman and how he is going to be able to bring students this year to that same conference in order to spread the knowledge he gained from that experience. That conference had a clear impact on Hayes’ thoughts on inclusivity at GU.
“We can always be more inclusive,” he said, “We don’t want to simply advocate for these groups, we want to give them a seat at the table.”
The May sisters wanted to highlight campus cultural clubs as an important resource for GU students.
Sok echoed that goal of promoting cultural clubs, but wants to push GU more in becoming a school more accepting towards those marginalized communities.
“When I first came to Gonzaga I realized that I came from a very difference background than most other people. I showed up as a person of color and of a low socio-economic background,” she said, “My freshman year I ended up only finding cultural clubs as a home.”
Sok wants to ensure that experience does not happen for the next group of marginalized students. Sok has shown these ideals before when she was a part of the “Where Were You When” video published last year.
The candidates agreed that GSBA should be more accessible to the general student body, with the May sisters proposing a ‘Get to know your Senator night’.
Hayes wanted to change the GSBA website to make the home screen a button that leads to a page where a student can directly contact their Senator.
Sophomore Giulianna Pendleton is running unopposed for the position of speaker of the senate. This year she served as a sophomore senator and chair of the Health and Safety Committee, creating a video movement called “I Pledge” in support of raising awareness of rape culture on campus.
Maurie Harbick, a sophomore, is running unopposed for treasurer. Harbick is calling on his love of student government and his experience as treasure in his high school student government as his reason for running.
The elections open Thursday, March 1 on Zagtivities and closes Wednesday, March 7 at 4:30 p.m. where the results will be released that night at 8 p.m. during Coffeehouse.
Sean Price is a staff writer.