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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

SGA hosts annual candidate forum ahead of elections

James Bartlett
Candidates forum Thursday.

Suffolk University’s Student Government Association hosted its annual candidate forum March 4, where candidates discussed issues such as SGA recruitment, future initiatives and accountability ahead of this week’s election.

Candidates spoke on their goals for next year, if elected to their position.

SGA President Angela El-Jazzar, who is running for re-election, said she wants to increase the frequency of in-person events on campus, as well as expand the commuter support budget she previously implemented as treasurer.

El-Jazzar said her top priority is “effectively communicating with the student body on actions they want to see on campus.”

She said the commuter support budget will be focusing on parking passes for students in order to help alleviate any financial burdens on students commuting into the center of Boston.

“Over the summer, if elected, I plan on actively researching and learning more about parking lots in and around the campus area and launching commuter fund support,” El-Jazzar said.

Presidential candidate Stephen Merrick said he wants to focus on implementing more resolutions and solutions for students within SGA next year.

“We’ve done a really good job this year of … getting out and hearing the students’ voices, but at the same time, I feel as though we need to work more on carrying those voices through,” Merrick said.

He added that major decisions, such as the recent booster mandate, were made by the university without student input.

“Going forward, there’s going to be a lot more of these big decisions being made as we transfer out of COVID and into the real world, and we need to make sure our voices are carried through and make sure that we are representing the students’ voices in the face of the administration,” Merrick said.

Merrick said he also wants to look internally at SGA and make improvements to ensure inclusion and transparency within the organization.

“I believe that we need to make ourselves stronger before we can fully and adequately help the student body,” he said.

If elected, Merrick said he plans to add seats to SGA’s Diversity Committee for students who are not in SGA in order to get an outside perspective. He also said he will help to create a code of conduct for senators in SGA, in order to hold them to a higher standard as student leaders.

Vice presidential candidate Tara Maltese said she wants to increase student knowledge about SGA through information sessions during election season to encourage participation and enthusiasm.

“When we returned to campus after so long online, many people didn’t know what SGA was, what our responsibilities were, how to even run for a position, or what our positions meant,” Maltese said. “I think if we’re going to increase not only the number of senators we have but also the areas of the school that those senators are coming from, we really need to increase our recruitment efforts.”

Candidates for treasurer, Logan Gozzi and Gabrielle Abdelnour, both said they plan to make funding initiatives through the SGA Finance Committee an easier and more accessible process for students.

“My goal is to really just make it easier for them. I want to create… a safe environment where they know how to get the resources, they know what to do, what’s needed, so that it’s a fast and easy process for them,” said Abdelnour.

Gozzi said he has witnessed students returning to SGA several times in order to be granted the money they need, and wants to make this process smoother for everyone involved.

“[I] really talk to them and understand why they wanted that big number and … help them use it effectively, and also make the process easier so it’s not as medial or difficult,” he said.

Isabella Tencer, candidate for secretary, said she will enthusiastically jump into her role as secretary if elected.

“Being vice-chair of public relations, I’m super excited to be more involved and represent the school,” said Tencer.

She said she wants to expand SGA’s public relations into social media such as Tik Tok to reach a wider array of students and spread the message of SGA. She added that her mission is to become more involved in the Suffolk community to amplify the goals of SGA and facilitate outreach to students.

“I would love to improve upon [the membership] of student government and amplify exactly what we do here, but I also want to promote more on-campus events and send people in student government to these events,” Tencer said.

When asked about concerns and reactions to criticism from senators and students, both presidential candidates said they would openly accept criticism and actively work to improve upon it.

“With criticism comes an open mind and a helping hand, and it’s important to remind ourselves and we are human and we are individuals and to remain neutral when understanding where [someone] is coming from or if there are any personal experiences that have led to it,” said El-Jazzar.

Merrick referenced The Journal’s Feb. 16 article about recent senator resignations and said he used the criticism as inspiration to make SGA a stronger and more welcoming organization.

“Like I said, that hurt to read, but at the same time my gut reaction wasn’t to say ‘this isn’t an issue,’ my gut reaction was to say ‘alright, this is where these people are coming from, how can we work together to change this perception and make sure that these people are feeling validated,’” Merrick said. “Because, whether or not you like what the people are saying, the fact that they said it does mean they do believe it.”

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About the Contributors
Shealagh Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief | she/her
Shealagh is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in international relations from Ashby, Mass. She has previously worked as a co-op for the Boston Globe on the homepage desk and as an intern for GBH News and Boston Public Radio. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, finding a new favorite coffee spot and exploring Boston. She is a huge art lover and wants nothing more than to see the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. After graduation, Shealagh hopes to be a political journalist in Washington D.C. Follow Shealagh on Twitter @ShealaghS.
James Bartlett, Multimedia Editor | he/him
James Bartlett is a senior studying print and web journalism. Originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, James has a strong interest in photojournalism and new journalism tools such as podcasting and user-generated content. James is currently a Web Journalist at WHDH Channel 7 and has previously worked at and the Newburpoty Daily News. Follow James on Twitter @James_bartlett8 Email him at [email protected]

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SGA hosts annual candidate forum ahead of elections