Amid all the changes the undergraduate student body has experienced the past couple weeks due to the coronavirus, one thing is set to continue.
The Gonzaga Student Body Association (GSBA) Spring 2020 elections are upon us.
Emma Kilroy, one of the elections commissioners, said campaigning was supposed to start right after spring break, meaning candidates were not able to campaign in person this election cycle.
Now, instead of tabling and visiting students in residence halls, candidates have been personally reaching out to students and conducting social media campaigns on various platforms.
Additionally, the open forum with candidates for executive staff positions were held via Zoom and uploaded onto GSBA’s YouTube channel.
“My first reaction was definitely one of concern and sadness — for the people in the GU community who are most vulnerable, economically and health-wise, for all of us in the community, and for the candidates, who aren't necessarily able to run the campaigns they envisioned,” Kilroy said. “But, I am proud of the way our community has responded to this crisis, and I am excited to be a part of keeping students connected to our community.”
Wealthy Vue & Miguel Acosta Loza
The first pair of candidates running for GSBA president and vice president are junior Wealthy Vue and first year Miguel Acosta Loza. The main message of their campaign is advocating for students, representation and motivation.
One thing they want to improve on campus is the connection between students and board members, faculty and the community.
“To us, every single voice matters,” Vue said.
“We want to reignite the spirit of the students who chose GU,” Acosta Loza said. “You chose this community and this community chose you for a reason.”
As an incoming first year and an international student from Ecuador, Acosta Loza said he had doubts about attending college in the United Sates.
“My first year pre-orientation program, Rising in Solidarity and Engagement (RISE), changed everything,” Acosta Loza said. “I found a community that didn’t want to change me at all. Serving alongside those people, I felt like I could be who I am. That has empowered me to do these things as a freshman.”
Last year, Vue experienced a life-threatening injury. During his recovery, many Zags outside of his friend group reached out to him.
“People care about you even if they don’t know you well. This is part of what made me passionate about running for this position,” Vue said. “To thank them. This is a community that is second to none.”
Vue, who is current the junior representative for GSBA, has found many ways to be involved on campus, from Building Relationships in Diverse Gonzaga Environments (BRIDGE) to intramural sports to GU dance.
Acosta Loza, this year’s international senator, has also found leadership opportunity in co-curriculars such as International Student Union and GU’s Net Impact chapter.
Fese Elango & Taylor Sipila
The second pair of candidates is Fese Elango and Taylor Sipila, running for president and vice president. The three words guiding their campaign are community, compassion and courage.
“Leadership is not overpowering or forceful, but rather a way to unite people and work with them collaboratively and that’s what we envision if given the opportunity to do this work,” Elango said.
One of the things they are focusing on is shifting GU’s climate to one that is not of ignorance, but awareness. For them, ensuring that students of all backgrounds are represented in committees where decisions are being made, is important.
Elango has found comfort in her struggles at GU because of the power she has felt from the community of professors and students around her. She knows they will be there when her troubles are a bit too much for her to carry alone, she said.
For Sipila, planning events over the last three years has had a great impact on her.
“There is nothing sweeter than seeing a Zag smile," Sipila said. "I have loved getting to program events that could be a student’s ‘Zag moment.'"
This year, Elango holds the position of director of diversity and inclusion while Sipila is the director of campus events within GSBA.
“We have been able to support our teams, see programmed events come to life and have a voice in weekly cabinet meetings,” Elango said.
According to Elango and Sipila, they have been looking forward to running for these positions because it makes them a little uncomfortable and that is the best way to grow.
To find out more about the senate, class representative and executive staff candidates, short biographies have been featured on the GSBA Instagram.
Below are the rest of the candidates for executive staff positions which the whole undergraduate student body can vote for.
Speaker of the Senate Candidates
Carson Chapman, Junior
Braden Bell, Sophomore
Daniel Weinberger, Junior
Students can submit their votes by Friday at noon at: https://gonzaga.campuslabs.com/engage/.
Election results will be announced at 5 p.m. the same day on GSBA social media platforms.
Gifty Minhas, the other election commissioner, urges students to continue to vote online, despite not physically being together and seeing campaigning around campus.
“With so many positions being chosen, this time is important for students to make sure their voice is heard,” Minhas said.