Student Association to hold 2015 elections
By Kassie Parisi
The University at Albany recently held an open forum during which the Student Association presidential and vice-presidential candidates answered questions from UAlbany students. Voting will take place from March 9 at 12 p.m. to March 11 at 12 p.m. on MyInvolvement.org.
Presidential Candidates-Marc Cohen and Jarius Jemmott
Marc Cohen is a junior at UAlbany. He has been involved with the Student Association since his freshman year. He has served as the Director of Legislative Affairs of SA, Chief of Staff, and is the current vice president of SA. He is on the Board of Directors of University Auxiliary Services and is a Purple and Gold Student Ambassador.
“The reason I’m running for president is to help in the continuation of success…students first is not a slogan for our campaign. It has been my guiding principle since I joined SA.” he said. Cohen’s running mate is Chrisel Martinez.
Jarius Jemmott is a junior at UAlbany. He believes that, even though SA has done a lot for students, there are many improvements that can be made within the organization.
“The students don’t need a new Student Association president. They need a new student leader,” he said. Jemmott’s running mate is Kevin Murphy.
What new ideas do you have for SA?
MC- Cohen, outlining his platform of continuing to improve quality of life for students, listed a few changes he would like to see, including making it possible for students to have barbecues on campus, and implementing a free printing system. He would also like to see expansion in environmental sustainability.
JJ- “A lot of programs at this university tend to appeal to a certain demographic. There are not several events that apply to all students and I think SA needs to serve all students,” Jemmott said. He also pointed out that since every student pays the $100 for the Student Activity Fee, it is SA’s job to return that money in the form of programs that will benefit everyone. Jemmott mentioned the need for more outlets in the campus library and a more efficient way to reserve cabins at Dippikill for students who aren’t able to go down to the SA office and make a reservation. Cohen responded by saying that under his and President Agyemang’s administration, they have gotten the approval for 600 new outlets to go into the library. He also pointed out that students can reserve rooms at Dippikill by telephone.
How do you plan to get people involved on campus?
JJ- “A lot of people don’t want to get involved on campus because they don’t even know what’s going on. We need to have a sense of pride in our organizations,” he said. Jemmott had the idea of having a “Student Group of the Month” award where a different student group would be featured in the Campus Center each month to increase awareness.
MC- “There are more than just student groups on campus. We need to look outside. Our phenomenal athletes spend a lot of time studying for classes outside of their sporting events, but they still pay the activity fee,” he said, speaking to the importance of involving all students in campus activities. He also mentioned the need for SA’s increased presence on social media.
How would you better assist student groups if elected?
JJ- “I understand how it feels to spend endless nights planning programs and events, taking the risk and putting your name out there. I wouldn’t put my personal views above my job, but I will fight for students. You love your organization and it’s the Student Association’s job to respect that,” Jemmott said.
MC- “How tough is it to set up a reservation in an academic building? Students have to go online and navigate the system. There should be a uniform reservation system without glitches that helps students to progress their initiatives. The second problem student groups run into is a lack of funding. We can’t give everyone as much money as everyone wants. If we could they would be able to do the phenomenal things they want to do just as they are. We have additional funding that students aren’t aware of,” Cohen said.
What is the biggest misconception about SA?
MC- “The Student Association is more than concerts and Speaker Series. SA has an attorney that we pay for. That’s free for students who get into legal trouble. They can get counseling and get help in finding their way out of trouble. The Student Association also has Dippikill. There are so many small niches that students don’t know about. We are the most powerful group on campus because we’re one voice. We are 13,000 students working together and accomplishing goals. If we show the administration that then there’s nothing we can’t do,” Cohen said.
JJ- “One misconception is that Student Association is actually for students. Most people who know about SA are the people who are in SA. SA doesn’t represent everyone in the student body and their different cultures, so how can you say that SA is for the students?
JJ- “When I first entered this university I always wanted to be a part of the change. The change needs to be inside Student Association.”
MC- “Over the last two and a half years I’ve been involved in the Student Association. There’s nothing I enjoy more than when I see a student or students sitting down and there’s an open seat and I ask if I can sit down and hear from them. My time with SA has shown me that students have power. If we speak up and if we speak up as collective voice, we can accomplish anything.”
Vice Presidential candidates- Chrisel Martinez and Kevin Murphy
Kevin Murphy is a junior at UAlbany. Last year, he served as a senator representing Alumni Quad. During his opening statement he expressed his dissatisfaction with the Student Association.
“The reason I’m running for this position is because I believe that within SA we need change. The Student Association needs to be an advocate for the students by the students,” he said.
“This shouldn’t be a little club of politicians and people who want to advocate their own agenda,” he said.
Chrisel Martinez is a junior at UAlbany. In her past Martinez has served on the senate, been involved with the student group Fuerza Latina, and has served on the EOP Student Administrative Council. She is currently involved with Residential Life and is the Student Association Director of Multicultural Affairs.
“I can honestly say I’m ready to advocate for you all by serving as your vice president,” she said in her opening statement.
How do you plan to get the student body involved?
CM- Martinez and her running mate Marc Cohen are placing a strong emphasis on reaching out to students, so she believes that it is important to talk to students to make them aware of what SA is really about.
“SA is more than just hosting events and hosting concerts and bringing in speakers. We have a lot more to offer,” she said. She noted that there are many differing departments in SA to represent the diversity of students, including the Gender and Sexuality Department and Multicultural Affairs Department.
KM- Murphy feels that in order to get students more involved there needs to be better communication.
“How many people in this room really know everything that SA does? How many people know about the finances in SA?” he asked. He continued to say that nobody truly knows what SA does, aside from the people working in SA.
“People don’t know because there isn’t effective communication, there isn’t transparency, and there’s no student input. So these are things we need to change.”
How would you decrease UAlbany’s ecological footprint?
KM- Murphy said that the current reusable water bottle system is a step in the right direction. He would like to implement more energy saving programs.
CM- Martinez said that Residential Life has a sustainability committee, and if elected she would work with them to find ways to keep sustainability going on the campus. She would also consider adding a sustainability department to Dippikill.
If you were elected, how would you use the role to support and assist the president?
CM- Martinez has previously worked with Cohen in SA, so she is aware of his current communication methods. If elected vice president, she would be a liaison for him and everyone he is working with, whether it be students or university administration.
“I’m very easygoing and with my communication skills he [Cohen]and I will be able to advocate for the students as best as possible,” she said.
KM- “The role of the vice president should first and foremost be to assist the president with his dealings,” said Murphy. He said that the vice president should be responsible for bridging the gap between the students and the executive board of the Student Association. He mentioned that constantly looking for student input is important.
What part of the Student Association needs the most improvement?
KM- Murphy feels that the Communication Department of the Student Association needs work.
“I’m not really sure what that department does. I know that they’re funded and I know that there’s a director, and that they’re paid,” he said. He continued to say that in his opinion, it should be the role of the Marketing Department to manage communications.
“That’s student money being spent, it’s inefficiency and that needs to change,” he said.
CM- “I personally feel like all the departments are great in every way and I don’t think there is any department that would have to be fixed. They all have a budget and they all have directors who do what they have to do,” she explained. She explained that all the committees have meetings in which updates are given so everyone is aware of what’s going on.
“I think that we would be the effective choice in this election because we offer a fresh, new perspective in SA. We’re not the status quo. We’re here to make changes, not because we want an extra line on our resume,” he said. Murphy continued to say that he and his running mate, Jarius Jemmott, want student input.
“There should be emails and polls sent out to students asking what they want. They [SA] don’t do that. They fail to do that, and now they want to do it again. That’s why we need a new direction and a new mentality.”
“There are always changes you have to work on. Working within Student Association, I’ve seen that we’re working towards the little things that count,” she said. She explained that both she and Cohen are aware of the changes that need to be made and that is why they are so eager to reach out to students.
“Marc and I will make sure that the student voices are heard and advocate for everyone in this university.”