Breaking down the ballot: profiling the candidates

by Beacon Staff • April 1, 2009

bFisher focuses on this year's legislative record/b

In the upcoming student election, Emerson Student Government Association President Scott Fisher is hoping his accomplishments will speak for him in his race against opponent Nick Vargas.

"I'm very confident my record will show that I work hard for [students]," said Fisher.

He said he already has a list of issues he will work on if re-elected, including increasing student hourly wage, adding more foreign language classes, improving the student lounge and the policy for signing in guests and any other tuition or health issues that may arise.

Fisher was elected as executive president at the end of his freshman year, a rarity for a first-year college student. Fisher said what set him apart in the race was his willingness to take on difficult issues and listen to students.

"There were so many people facing issues-tuition costs, gender-neutral housing," he said. "They deserved someone who would stand up for them, even if the issue was controversial."

Serving in student government has made him realize what path he wants his future career to take.

"I've always felt an obligation to help other people," said Fisher. "It's something I want to do for the rest of my life."

He said he has several initiatives he's most proud of accomplishing during his tenure. One of these accomplishments was campaigning the Board of Trustees for a smaller tuition increase, which led to the smallest tuition increase in seven years at 3.7 percent. He said he is also very proud of getting a medical amnesty proposal passed, through which a student seeking medical help for alcohol or drug-related health problems can do so without fear of disciplinary consequences.

"It was approved exactly how I wrote it except for one addition," he said. "That could save a student's life."

He has also been focused on the gender-neutral housing issue since the beginning of the school year and said he has been told by college president Jacqueline Liebergott that the college was going to try to implement it for next year.

Fisher had a long history in student government even before he came to Emerson. He was elected as male social representative during his time at Loyola High School in New York City, the duties of which included working on initiatives such as providing recycling facilities for the campus and making work study programs more available to students. The private high school required students to take a standardized test to gain admittance but ran on funding rather than the tuition of its students.

During his time in high school, Fisher became involved in a wide range of activities, including cheerleading, acting, film and the school's newspaper and literary magazine. It was this range of activities that helped him decide Emerson was the right choice for him.

Fisher said his first term as SGA president as a sophomore, as well as his time as president of Emerson Alliance of Gays, Lesbians and Everyone, was a valuable learning experience.

"I realized that change takes hard work, but it's possible," he said. "Not everyone's going to be willing to work with you."

He said he takes the upcoming election seriously and hopes other students do, too.

"I think when it comes down to it, it's not about slogans or gimmicks," said Fisher. "We're adults facing real concerns. I think that's what it'll come down to." i- MD/i

bVargas says its time for change atop the SGA/b

Junior theater education major Nick Vargas is awfully busy this time of year. The performing arts senator, class of 2010 vice president, president of theater group Kidding Around, brother in fraternity Zeta Phi Eta, and Greek Council board member is swamped with rehearsals for the show he's currently directing for Rareworks. And, of course, he's running for the position of SGA executive president.

"At the speech [Monday] night, I gave a quote [I'd heard]. 'Students don't come to Emerson to find themselves. Students come to Emerson to be themselves,'" he said. "And I think that I've had that opportunity here at Emerson, and I want to give that to future Emersonians. And I think that [the position of] SGA president is a way to do that."

Vargas will challenge two-time incumbent Scott Fisher for the SGA's top position. He cited his extensive and varied extracurricular record at Emerson as one of his qualifications for the position. In addition to the roles listed above, Vargas has been an Orientation Core Staff member and held an internship at Boston's SpeakEasy Stage Company. As Class of 2010 senator his freshman year, and class president last year, he has been on SGA as long as Fisher.

If elected, Vargas said he plans to continue work on current issues like gender-neutral housing, as well as improving the commuter meal plan, arranging for local businesses to start accepting EC Cash and getting off-campus students better access to the dorm facilities.

"On the heels of the issues that Scott has brought up, I'd like to continue working on those in a more effective way," Vargas said.

Vargas also said he is interested in changing the format of the SGA meeting to make sure that every interested student had a chance to voice his or her opinion.

A vocal opponent to Fisher in SGA meetings, Vargas felt Fisher has not always communicated effectively with the administration or other necessary departments in order to best implement his ideas.

Vargas said he was disappointed in Fisher's lack of communication with SGA, and that Fisher often introduces ideas through Facebook before SGA.

"At times, I feel like there's a secrecy within our organization," Vargas said.

"His ideas are refreshing but the way he goes about it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of students and the administration," Vargas said of Fisher in a previous iBeacon/i interview.

Vargas has been holding unofficial SGA senate meetings since current Vice President Maude Okrah cancelled them earlier this semester.

While Vargas admitted there would be challenges in his attempt to upset Fisher's third consecutive run, he said he does not see them as a deterrent to his candidacy.

"I definitely think his name has been exposed to the entire Emerson community, and unfortunately that's not [an opportunity I've had,]" he said. "I feel like my active involvement in student organizations.has been significantly greater than Scott's in the past three years." He said he thought this gave him a better window onto the needs and mindset of the student body than that of his opponent.

Vargas was hopeful about his chances in the race against Fisher.

"I'm very excited about the upcoming debate on Saturday," he said. "I think it'll highlight some of Scott's and my differences. And I think it will make it clear [to the student body] that new leadership is the best way to go." i- EC/i