Photo by Victor Gee.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to Zane Poffenberger as Zach Poffenberger and mischaracterized the structure and function of the Finance Board. This article has been updated.
“For me, this is about starting habits, good habits, of being an engaged citizen now; it starts at UMBC,” said Collin Sullivan, a junior double majoring in information systems and economics and the only presidential candidate for the Spring 2018 Student Government Association election.
The lack of options for the presidential ticket could disincentivize students from voting, exasterbating an already low voter turnout. This is an issue to Sullivan and his running mate, sophomore Vrinda Deshpande, who hope to increase communication with the student body and SGA board.
Both Deshpande and Sullivan have previous experience in SGA; Deshpande was a First Year Ambassador of the Service and Outreach Department in 2016, and Sullivan was a former SGA senator. Both candidates had limited participation in SGA this academic year but accredit their experiences outside of SGA to helping them better understand the needs of student organizations.
“We want to target accountability and visibility; we feel like there is a disconnect between SGA and the student body,” says Deshpande. “Students don’t really see the SGA for the resource that it is, so just being a lot more transparent and communicative of what the SGA does is important.”
Deshpande is the student leader of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative and has worked with the SGA as a member of a student organization. Deshpande and Sullivan cite the importance of being more connected to students through their organizations and clubs and have a more accommodating relationship, “so we can collaborate and make our community the best that it can be,” said Sullivan.
Even though there are 20 positions for which students may run, and over 24 candidates, the goal to create awareness of SGA policies and open communication with students is a common one. Koby Samuel, a sophomore double majoring in computer science and applied linguistics, is the chief engineer of the UMBC student-run radio station WMBC and is running for Vice President of Student Organizations.
“I was hoping to help other clubs find what they’re looking for,” Samuel says, referencing issues with getting sufficient financial support and space for student organizations, a problem that has been criticized by WMBC station, MBC News. “I want to reach out to clubs and make sure they know the process for getting funds, and can get through it.”
The VPSO is part of the leadership of the Executive Branch and a voting member of the Finance Board, the legislative body that allocates funding for student organizations.
VPSO opponent Zane Poffenberger, a freshman double majoring in history and political science who was the Unit Coordinator for the Student Organization Support Team, worked alongside student organizations to better understand their needs, goals and operations.
Poffenberger, also a member of the College Democrats, emphasizes the importance of student organizations on campus. “Being involved gave me a sense of belonging,” said Poffenberger.
He sees the culture of involvement on campus and in the community as invaluable and purposeful connections and will draw on his involvement in the student organization outreach if he is elected as VPSO.
Further information on all candidates can be read on the SGA Election page, as well as information concerning voting, which will start Monday, April 23 at 7 a.m. If students have any issues or need to report violation of Election Board rules, they may submit a complaint.