On April 20, 21 and 22, UMBC students will decide who will serve as their next SGA president. This election season, Anthony Jankoski, a junior English major, is a candidate in the race. He is currently serving as the treasurer of SGA.
Can you tell me a bit about your platform? What do you want to get done, what’s most important, etc?
My focus is on student needs, as it should be. The biggest thing is the fight for free printing. Last year, in my campaign for SGA treasurer, I fought for free printing. The initiative was shut down by the current administration.
Was it shut down by Ganesh himself, or was it voted down?
He worked with the senate to shut it down, so basically he and the senate shut it down. It came to the point where Ganesh and I were so divided on free printing that we both submitted different budget drafts for approval. My budget took away half of SGA stipends to cover the printing initiative. The senate ruled with Ganesh to keep free printing out and to keep salaries high. The stipends are already thousands of dollars; I thought the cuts were worth it and a good way to give back to the students. UMBC is one of the only USM schools that doesn’t provide free printing. But it got shut down, so I think that says a lot about how the SGA currently is now. So the fight for free printing continues, and I can only do it with a good team.
Another main point is stopping student fee increases. Right now there’s a projected fee increase to pay for more arts facilities on campus. While that’s a great idea, we already have many facilities open. I can see it as the administration’s attempt to attract more students to the school. However, at the moment only 5% of the population is art majors. So I don’t see how increasing tuition for stuff we already have access to benefits the students body.
Do you think that the student fee increases are a result of that only or can they also be attributed to the budget cuts happening state-wide?
The increase is all SGA, so there are no outside factors influencing it.
And what is the student fee now?
$98 per student.
And what is the proposed increase?
It’s gonna go up by $5 to $103 per student (Editor’s note: the fee is remaining at $98). That is dismal, but in the state of affairs now, where tuition is projected to increase, we need to do everything possible to keep it low instead of raking in thousands more for the university.
So free printing, no student fee increase; anything else?
Another thing is that our platform is very expansive: more lenient tailgating policies, a swipe access policy for sporting events that would give attendees consistent chances to win gear. We want students that identify as LGBTQ to have increased rights and better sexual harassment policies — we think that they’re not adequately covered — gender neutral bathrooms … things like that. Under that umbrella, we’re also trying to increase the amount of funding for student activities on campus. UMBC has one of the highest rates of mental illness, depression and suicide out of any school in America, and that’s alarming. So by getting more money for events, we can get people out, make campus a more vibrant place, and people can have a better time. I guess our main concern is increasing student happiness, but we can only do that by dealing with the practical side of things and handling the money better than it already is.
Ok, so what would you do to open the communication network between students and SGA?
I think that really takes place on a personal level, so that depends on the candidate who’s running. I think I’m one of the few candidates who will remember student needs, such as the free printing initiative. I’m willing to represent the individual because our university is a collective of individuals. I think that my ticket — the only one not affiliated with greek life — is the best one because students will support us conditionally based on whether we do our job. We don’t believe that blood should be thicker than water in these elections, we’re out here repressing the individual students.
We’re also willing to increase the SGA body. We want more people to get involved. Right now SGA is composed of people who are already highly involved, but it shouldn’t be that way. It should be a way for people to get involved and learn how campus works. We want to expand the departments, the application processes, etc. So I think it comes down to the personal level and that my whole team has the right personality for that.
I read your AMA on MyUMBC, and your platform, etc. I saw one of the things you want to do is expand UHS to 24/7 service. Can you tell me about that? Where is the money coming from?
The way the budget currently stands, there’s no money to pay for expanded health care options. However, students need that. We need to provide immediate care for people with acute conditions or emergencies that may arise. Our school doesn’t provide that. I see a lot of emergency vehicles coming in and out of campus, and who knows how long they come after the person has succumbed to their sickness or whatever. If we shift the budget around a little bit, cut SGA salaries — which is already saving us $52,000 — we’ll have more money for staff, upkeep of the facilities at night, etc. We want to keep people healthy and fit, but we absolutely need to keep the health facilities open at night and on weekends. We also need some sort of free pregnancy and STD testing on campus for students who don’t feel they get the chance to do that on campus. Healthy students, healthy minds, healthy university — it really comes down to us shifting around money in the budget — removing things that are superfluous such as SGA salaries, and putting that big pot of money towards facilities on campus.
I looked over your budget and in it it said that if you were to cut SGA stipends in half then you save $17,163.
Actually with the cuts I made, we only take out $15,000.
And thats to cover the printing initiative, yeah?
Yeah, that’s correct.
So you proposed $15,000 to be taken from SGA stipends, and you’re saying that the $15,000 will cover UHS expansion?
No, that $15k is just for free printing, and that’s all I tried to get done this year. I can only make these changes incrementally — one thing at a time. Though, if we get this whole team [his slate] elected, then we’ll get a group of people willing to work together to make these changes.
So then — if we cut the stipends completely down to $0 — then we’ll have the money to make these changes. The salaries serve as a barrier between accountability and the students. We give people these thousands of dollars in salaries, then it could just the about the money, not the students. I mean, you don’t even have to do anything as president if you don’t want to; you could just be lazy and still collect the salary. They can’t take that away from you. But if we cut the salaries down to zero, then we know that the people are committed to doing the job well and have that passion.
Say that doesn’t happen. In the current situation in what you proposed in this budget you have $15,000 coming out of salaries to cover printing. And then to cover the rest of your proposals you want to move money around throughout the rest of the budget?
But you don’t know how you would do that? is that correct?
I’ve experimented with a few ideas. The biggest one is to take that money out of salaries and stipends for SGA so we can put it toward other stuff — also, the benefit of $0 salaries. Right now, I’m looking at the budget to see what can be cut. This year I’ve cut certain things already — for example, the Greenpaw fund, which pays for sustainable events on campus — simply because it wasn’t being used. So there’s a lot of money that remains stagnant in the budget right now. A lot of money the current administration isn’t willing to cut.
Greenpaw fund, any others?
Yeah, I guess just those two [the SGA stipends and green paw fund].
I’ve had to do a lot of compromise. Really just unused money and stipends — that’s what we wanted to take money out of.
If you cut all the stipends down to $0, what does that leave you with?
So you’d still have money in reserves to use as you will?
Yeah, we could make use of that as well. It’s a large pot of money that is just sitting there.
So what is standing in the way? Say you become President: what is the timeline or what has to happen for the stipends to be cut down to $0?
It’d be part of the budget, so we’d present it to the senate, and they’d vote on it. Then it’d go to the finance board of SGA, and they can approve or disapprove. If it’s approved, then it goes to a panel composed of SGA and real campus administration, and they have to approve it as well.
Do you think that’s realistic? Cutting the salaries completely?
I think it is; I think it’s something the students want. It’s noble — the right thing to do in order to increase accountability. College Park doesn’t have any stipends other than the president’s, which is much lower than ours. So I think we need to follow CP’s model and have people who aren’t just in it for the money.
I thought that CP had a system for SGA members to apply for stipends?
Right, I think you’re pulling that from their old constitution. They’ve since changed it. The current one only lets the president receive a stipend.
Yeah, that was on the AMA, and then someone defended me with “actually, if you read the constitution … .”
24 hours UHS is accompanied by 24/7 RAC and library. (RAC meaning basketball courts, weight room, and cardio balcony. Library meaning the first two floors.)
That money can’t come from stipend cuts because there isn’t enough, but like I said, there’s so much room in the budget. We might not accomplish all these things in one year, but we can work toward them. My team is planting the seeds. All the best universities have these facilities.
You say your administration would be planting the seeds for these projects. Do you have a timeline for these? Has this been a conversation with the administration or whoever else needs to be consulted?
Free printing, yes. We have that set up and ready to go. It just didn’t pass the senate.
The timeline for all this is to have it by next year [2016-2017]. I won’t be able to use these facilities; I’m doing it for posterity.
Why the tailgating policy? Do you think it’s important given the general lack of enthusiasm for athletics at UMBC?
That’s not true; there is enthusiasm for athletics. Our soccer team is very well followed by our student body. Tailgating is a part of sports culture, building a sense of community. Of course it’s associated with the vices of sports, like drinking and all that, but I think students have enough of a concern for safety. We could really do great things for attendance at games, enthusiasm, etc.
How would students be safe at these events?
I’m sure security would be out there — police and student marshals, etc.
So I read about your idea for parking. Can you tell me about that?
So the way the system works now is inadequately serving students. If we make more universal parking passes that expand parking options, we can really get our commuters into those spaces and into school. I know a lot of commuters spending a lot of time trying to find places to park. By combining parking passes and being more lenient on where students can park we can get people more spaces.
So what would be different with the universal parking pass?
We’d try to combine resident and commuter parking. Right now, there’s a lot of resident parking that isn’t taken up, like on the top floor of Walker garage. Walker avenue’s spots aren’t completely filled all the time. There’s just a lot of residential parking that isn’t being used that could be used by commuters.
Another thing that we can work on is getting restricted faculty parking hours. I know students need the parking more than faculty for more hours of the day because they’re in class, the library, etc, whereas professors are teaching classes, and then they’re out.
You say that residential parking goes unused a lot of the time. I’m a resident with a C pass, and if I come here during the week, especially late in the day, I have trouble finding parking. The loop near the dorms/apartments is totally filled up all the time.
Right, yeah all the time.
And that’s just residential. So you’d be taking away spots from the residents and giving them to the commuters?
Not at all, not at all. Just that if there happens to vacancy in the residential spaces, commuters should be able to park there. If it’s during the day, and you’re a resident, your car is already going to be there so you won’t lose your spot. If there happens to be empty space, though, the commuter should be able to get it; that’s why we have amount of unused parking we do now.
They just built the new lot by Walker. Do you think that projects like that aren’t doing enough? Because for example that lot is all commuter parking.
I mean, it’s definitely helping. More lots means more parking — that’s good. Unfortunately, it’s not a solution because it takes years upon years to fix, whereas working with what we already have is more efficient.
I would like to see more things built like that; unfortunately the SGA doesn’t deal with that. If I could, I’d built more lots, but I don’t have a say in that.
A lot of the tone of your campaign have been citing what you call the inefficiencies and apathy of the current SGA. What is your response to someone who says, Well you’re campaigning to be the head of this organization, but your rhetoric makes it seem like you don’t believe in the system that’s in place?
I believe in the system, just not in the individuals that are a part of it. I think it’s a great system: it allows students to give their opinions; it allows for a lot of money to go toward student events; it allows for resources to be distributed to students in a way that benefits everybody. However, the individuals that are a part of that system aren’t using it to the advantage of everybody.
As treasurer, I’ve tried to make those funds available to everybody by distributing thousands of dollars to student orgs. We need to put the right heads in the right positions and get their minds to work and get the sources distributed in the proper ways.
You think the people on your slate are the solution to that? Like bringing them in and phasing out the current members of SGA is the way to revamp the system?
I think that they are shining examples of the kind of people we need. It’s not necessarily individuals but the type of individuals. We have a lot of great people in SGA that are doing a great job — everybody in SGA is very smart. Are their attitudes right for SGA? Maybe not.
I think right now the SGA is exclusive. It’s biased; it gives to certain groups and excludes others. The people I picked for my team are examples of people that could make resource distribution on campus more fair and efficient.
There’s been some concern that the way in which you express yourself is inappropriate. It comes off as an attack on SGA if and when something that you don’t agree with goes forward. The rhetoric seems inappropriate for the position you’re running for because if something doesn’t goes through, like the printing initiative, you go on the attack. Do you have anything to say to that?
I’m not attacking anybody; I’m just saying what I see. I think people are attaching opinions to me that aren’t really reflective of what I think. I’ve spoken my mind and stated facts, but at the end of the day, I’ve only put out there what’s objective.
I told students that the free printing initiative is getting shut down because the SGA doesn’t want to cut its salaries. A lot of people assume there are opinions attached to that, but really it’s just mistaking the facts, and people are getting riled up. Do people really think SGA is doing the best job? If not, would they be attacking me for stating the facts of what the organization is doing?
So you feel like it goes both ways?
Yeah, I mean it’s all perspective. I feel like I have the correct visions, whether people believe it or not.
Do you think you’d be using the same tone and rhetoric that you’re using now as president? I’ve read your posts, and you’re very critical of SGA as it is. Do you think that will cause some friction down the road if you’re elected?
No, because if I’m elected and my team is elected, we’ll have the power to report what needs to be done without reporting any negative news. So if elected, no it won’t be a problem.
In past elections, you were associated with Jeffrey Kee, who as we both know was expelled from the election. What is your relationship with him? Do you think any connection that you may have to him will hurt you in the election?
Well, I’ll start off by saying that I wasn’t involved in anything that he did to get kicked out; I don’t condone what he did. I was associated with his ticket, undoubtedly, but if I had been found in violation of any rules, I would’ve been removed from the election as well.
Kee is a great guy; he just had a lapse of judgement. I think that the pressure gets to a lot of candidates. I don’t think what he did last year is representative of his character as whole. I think that he’s grown from it. So no, I don’t think my association with him will hurt me — at least not to the person who is informed.