Visibility, Student Participation at the Center of PSGA Candidates Forum

Updated: Mar 22, 2019

By Brian Ponte

Photos by Victoria Fennell

Logo of the PSGA. Via Facebook

Candidates for the upcoming Purchase Student Government Association elections stressed, among other issues, the need for increased communication with the student body at the candidates forum yesterday.

“As the student government we have a unique position to work between the student body and the administration, and I don’t think we’ve utilized that a lot,” said Ellen Jones, the Crossroads RA who is running for coordinator of public affairs.

Jones (left) and Bunch (right)

SOA Senator Mina Bunch, also running for the position, referred to the position as being a “vessel between the student body and the PSGA.”

Other candidates expressed a desire to focus on similar issues including all three candidates for chair of senate. Commuter Senator Steve Kollias, a candidate for the position, lamented the fact that students do not attend PSGA senate meetings—a sentiment echoed by fellow candidates Fort Awesome Senator Bridget Martin and LAS Senator Charlie Caspari. Both Martin and Caspari expressed a desire to fill every academic senate seat, with Caspari outlining a plan to increase tabling across campus to raise awareness.

Left to right: Martin, Kollias, Caspari

“The student government is a liaison between ourselves—the student body—and the administration, but also but also a way of communicating things to the student body,” said Caspari, who is currently a senator for liberal arts and sciences. “I think that everyone wants to have their voices heard as a student here.”

Kollias outlined a plan to hold an open forum on campus every month where the student body could voice their concerns directly to the PSGA.

“What is important is that we have forums like this,” Kollias said. “If you have a problem that you need resolved, you can know who your senator is, you can know who the executive board is, and have them solve the problem.”

Candidates also addressed other issues and concerns affecting the student body. Julia Tortorello-Allen, a commuter senator who is running for the PSGA Vice President stressed the importance of student access to “safe and adequate, mold-free housing,” among other issues.

Tortorello-Allen (left) and Evans (right)

“Every student, especially students of color, women, those with disabilities and our LGBTQIA+ community need to always feel safe on campus even when interacting with the UPD,” Tortorello-Allen said. “My main goal is to keep the PSGA’s internal operations running smoothly so that we can continue this important ongoing work.”

Tortorello-Allen also touted previous achievements as a senator including setting up a system whereby commuters stranded on campus will be provided with shelter and sleeping bags, as well as reaching out to the college administration following an incident where anti-semitic posters were placed around campus.

Rosie Evans, who is also running for vice president and currently serves as the manager for WPSR, stressed the importance of more evenly distributing responsibilities throughout the PSGA’s executive board to alleviate the stress of some of the more burdened positions.

Presidential candidate Donyae McCray echoed previous speaker’s commitment to increased visibility on campus while planning to utilize the Purchase’s status as a art school to reach out to students.

“This is an art school, I think some people get that confused,” McCray said. “Whether it’s Culture Shock, Zombie Prom, or Fall Fest, all of those are forms of art. Recent presidents or recent senators not being able to show [their] face at these events shows what you really care about the student body.”

Polls open on Friday, March 22 at 5 p.m. on Pantherlink and will close on Sunday at 11:59 p.m.

A full video of the town hall can be viewed here.

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PSGA Bylaws (August 2018), Student Bill of Rights, Section B. Freedom of Speech, Press and Inquiry

Neither the student government nor any faculty or administrative person or board shall make a rule or regulation or take any action which abridges students’ freedom of speech, press or inquiry, as guaranteed Constitutional rights as citizens of the United States. Students of the campus are guaranteed:

  1.  the right to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them, and to express opinion privately and publicly;

  2. the right to learn in the spirit of free inquiry;

  3. the right to be informed of the purposes of all research in which they are expected or encouraged to participate either as subject or researcher;

  4. the right to freedom from censorship in campus newspapers and other media 

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