At Issue: A new SGA president for the 2013-2014 academic year
Our Take: Almeida would bring clear direction
Amid the lackluster turnout for SGA’s speech night, passion, goals, and promises were certainly in the room.
Benjamin Halls undoubtedly has the enthusiasm and grand vision that SGA members should have. He clearly sees the big picture, and emphasizes that Emerson students can only create change if they are engaged with their leaders. Not only does he want to engage students more with his fellow government members, he wants to create a stronger relationship between the SGA and the college’s most influential bodies, like the board of trustees.
But after two years with the same SGA president, and few implemented initiatives, our student government needs someone with a clear direction. While Almeida has only sat in the background of meetings for most of his SGA stint, he has developed an understanding of what works, and what doesn’t.
Almeida listed more print credits, mandatory midterm evaluations of professors, keeping the extended hours in the practice spaces in the Paramount, and extending the hours at the fitness center as top priorities for next year. That Almeida lists such specific changes indicates he’s actively listening to student complaints.
Halls, on the other hand, wants to build a relationship with the board of trustees, open communication with the student body, and change the “day-to-day functions of the SGA,” he said in an interview with the Beacon editorial board. While these actionable items are important, they are ones that we have seen candidates promise before, to no avail.
Almeida and Halls also significantly disagree about how student organizations should be allocated money. Halls wants to reform SGA’s entire financial system, saying the appeal system is outdated, and isn’t equipped to handle the number of organizations today — but didn’t offer many specifics about these changes, or when they might be implemented.
Almeida, however, wants to keep the system, but says the SGA shouldn’t tell organizations how to spend their money, and that appeals should usually only be subject to simple yes or no vote. He also believes the process should be decided on a first-come, first-served basis, and that the SGA shouldn’t reduce or deny appeals in anticipation of potential future appeals.
The appeal process is often clouded, and discussions about the SGA pool account can sometimes be centered on appeals that are coming up, rather than focused on the appeals at hand. With a strict first-come, first-served appeal guideline, groups will be forced to be more organized about getting their funds.
While Almeida lied to the student body in his campaign to be class of 2015 president last fall, it is something that he has been able to overcome. No politician is perfect, and Almeida acknowledged that his lie about being the president of his high school class has been one of his biggest regrets. He easily could have written off all connection with the SGA after students learned of his lie and he lost the election, but he stuck around and found a way to be present in discussions as the executive assistant to the president. In that, we find a dedication to the student body that is unparalleled.
Even if you didn’t attend the SGA’s speech night—and let’s be honest, you didn’t—you still have the opportunity to make an informed decision about the candidates. As students at Emerson, we look to SGA as our liaison to the administration, head of our activities funds, and so much more. Ultimately, you have a choice to make, and a damn important one at that.