Freshmen SGA senators look to a new year

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Freshmen SGA senators look to a new year

By Facebook user Suffolk SGA

By Facebook user Suffolk SGA

By Facebook user Suffolk SGA

By Facebook user Suffolk SGA

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As the SGA election came to a close Wednesday evening, the campus was buzzing with anticipation over who would be the freshman class’ next senators under the Student Government Association.

After weeks of campaigning both on campus with flyers hanging up on every elevator and bulletin board as well as campaign efforts spreading on social media with numerous Facebook posts and videos, the results were finally in.

Nine senators were chosen: Cat Seaver, Doug Botelho, Yasir Batalvi, Nicolas Rodriguez Gallego, Clara Jorritsma, Tohfa Signh, Matt O’Brien, Christopher Martone, and Benjamin Calitri..

The senators Benjamin Calitri, Matt O’brien, Yasir Batalvi, Cat Seaver, and Tohfa Singh spoke with The Suffolk Journal about their plans for campus, ideas for the future and personal lives.

O’brien, a government and economics major from Mendon, Massachusetts, explained in a recent interview with The Suffolk Journal what he would bring “transparency, accessibility and honesty” to the SGA.

“My father always told me, ‘Always have a plan and work the plan. For, if you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail,” he said.  “As your senator, I will always have a plan to improve our class. However I will be the first to admit, when one of my plans does not work, I will admit fault and construct a new plan.”

Batalvi, a government major with a concentration in public policy and law from Toronto, Canada said, “I’m looking forward to gaining experience, being a voice for my peers and creating positive change at Suffolk University.”

“I’ve been elected by the students of the Class of 2020 to represent them, work for them and fight for them, and that’s exactly what I intend to do,” said Batalvi.

He extended on his plans to create a smartphone app for the university. The app, he said, will have easy-to-use features in order to access resources at the university while on-the-go. These features he hopes to include the ability to book study rooms in the library, the map of all of the departments and offices at Suffolk.

Calitri, a government major from Westerly, Massachusetts added that his goal as a freshman senator is to the direct resource for when the class needs something done.  

“[I will] work to listen to the needs of the entire student body and work toward improving Suffolk as an institution,” said Calitri.

Seaver, a government major from Taunton, Massachusetts wants to bring “a fresh view” to campus.

“The way that I work is by knowing when I can be a leader and when I should be a follower, I believe that that can be an extremely powerful trait that can help with the success of the SGA,” she told the Journal.

Singh, a biology major from Moonachi, New Jersey stated, “I can assure everyone that I will bring my constant dedication and ambition in order to make Suffolk a better place.”

For some, elected as a freshman senator will serve as the beginning ground of a potentially long, political run for some of these students.

“I’ve learned that a lot is possible at SGA,” said Batalvi after learning more about what the upperclassmen have accomplished in the past few years. “There is a pervasive misconception that student government doesn’t matter, or can’t effect change, however, the long history of successes at SGA prove otherwise. It’s true that change is difficult, and that the road of improvement is tough. But something I have learned from upperclass students in SGA is that when you wonder whether something is possible, with hard work and persistence it usually is.”

For O’brien, who takes advice from the more experienced in order for him to serve as a better senator for the freshmen class, he said, “Accessibility is huge for me.”

“The greatest piece of advice I received from an upperclassman in SGA was to be approachable, so that students can come up to you whenever they have a problem that needs fixing,” said O’brien.

He added that in order to achieve this he will hostoffice hours on the eighth floor of 150 Tremont every Tuesday from 7p.m. to 8p.m.

Seaver explained that as a freshman, she has not been able to learn much from the upperclassmen but added, “I do think that they will have a lot to teach me over the next year.”

“During the retreat, the SGA members opened my eyes to how over four years,” Singh answered.  “There’s this strong bond over the idea of making our university a better place.”

Considering that all three senators are studying government and had plans to continue being associated with the government after graduation, they were asked whether they had any plans to work toward a higher office within the SGA.

“So far I’m dedicated to my role as SGA Senator and my position on the Finance Committee. I’m focused on doing the best and the most I can this year, in my role,” said Batalvi, “I want to continue to be involved and effect positive change, wherever that takes me. If that means taking on greater responsibility, then that’s something that I would be open to considering.”

Similarly, O’brien stated, “Right now, I’m focused on creating a Stronger Suffolk for every student. Being the voice for those without one in our community is my main goal.”

Calitri had no comment to make on that question, unsure whether or not he would pursue any higher office within the student government.

Seaver was hopeful in her advancement in the government, stating, “I do hope to eventually work my way up to a higher position as a senator, what position I will run for will have to be a future question as my time as a senator has only just begun.”

Singh was uncertain of what position she may run for in the future, exclaiming, “as of yet my main focus is to get adjusted and learn the ropes of SGA before I get ahead of myself. We are all students first and whatever is in store for me will come along.”  

It has been clear in the news and around campus that Suffolk has been having troubles with housing, food, and the board of directors switching presidents relatively often.  The senators were asked what they find needs to be improved about Suffolk.

Batalvi answered, “I believe that Suffolk University deserves better than a pattern of unstable leadership at the high offices of our institution. Our dedicated faculty, promising students, and hardworking staff deserve better,” when referring to instability in the office of the university president and board of directors.  “The solution to an issue like this will necessarily not be singular. The first step is awareness and open communication between all the participants and the students of Suffolk, and I’m hoping to facilitate that in my role.”

O’brien referenced a main focus of his campaign, the issue regarding the cost of laundry for students.  He stated, “My largest concern, and one plank of my platform when I ran, was to give students an allowance of $30 dollars to fund doing laundry…It is my mission to get each student more bang for their buck, and this is the first step.”

Seaver expanded on her own concerns in regards to the issue in the laundry rooms.  “The laundry rooms at suffolk are awful, they are probably what I’ve heard the most complaints about too. A lot of the washing machines do not finish on time, and sometimes when they finish they clothes have not been rinsed, this is causing students to loose money.”

She continued by explaining the issue with dryers not having proper “out of order” signs to save students from making the same mistake and losing money.


“We need to get “out of order” signs up and if other machines start doing the same thing, we need to reimburse students for their lost money,” she concluded.

“I think that we should promote the idea of community and supporting one another to show that we aren’t exactly the underdogs that people make us out to be” Singh told the Journal.

Calitri expanded on the issues several students have faced with paying for housing, explaining “there is only guaranteed housing on campus for one year.  This will be a difficult problem to fix because of our location in downtown Boston where real estate is very expensive, but I will do what I can to make housing easier for all students.”

As the interview came to a close, each senator made one final statement to the class to the class of 2020.

Batalvi clearly stated, “I’m grateful and humbled by the trust you have placed in me and by the opportunity to represent you. I’m not blind to the challenges our university faces, but I’m excited by the promise and potential of everyone I’ve met, to do our part in improving our home, our Suffolk. I truly believe Suffolk University’s best days are still ahead of us. This is only a beginning, not an end, and so I hope that we all continue to participate and get started with the work of making Suffolk the absolute best it can be.”

O’brien answered, “I’d like to thank each of my supporters for getting out the vote! To those that didn’t vote for me, know that I will fight for you as well, to get you more bang for your buck, to have your voices heard, and to build a Stronger Suffolk!”

Calitri stated, “Thank you for electing me Class of 2020, I am happy to listen to any questions, comments or concerns that you have.”

“If you see me around do not hesitate to say hello or say what’s up! Even if we don’t know each other let’s change that,” Singh concluded.

Seaver, who was excited to be chosen as a senator finish with, “I hope that I can help be an accurate representation of the class of 2020 and make the next four years some of the best of our lives.”

The senators have a long year ahead of them and very clear paths set ahead of themselves.  Hopefully their determination and hard work will lead the Class of 2020 into a successful school year.

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