The Board of Directors debate was an interesting evening that allowed students to gain insight into the platforms of the many students running for the available positions on the Board. This year there were 12 students running for the positions of Board of Directors. After having gone through the experience myself, I was definitely intrigued to see how the debate would unfold. Last year I felt overwhelmed, but also equally excited to take a leap of faith and challenge myself. As a student interested in student engagement and involvement, I really wanted to feel out the room for a variety of unique and intriguing opinions that were brought forth by the candidates.
The night started off with an overview of each candidate’s platform followed by a series of questions that were put together by SMUSA members and the audience. It was definitely refreshing to see an array of student objectives and listen in on what truly mattered to each contender. The first candidate to speak was none other than The Journal’s former Editor-in-chief, and throughout the night Neil Van Horne definitely highlighted his objectives of transparency and accountability. Transparency and accountability was definitely on the platform of literally every candidate at some point. Majority of candidates highlighted the communication gap between SMUSA and “SMUdents” – as Omar Semeda said during one his speeches.
The fact that Ollando Brown, one of the actual candidates, was absent somewhat confused students. It just so happened that Ollando was in the middle of writing a midterm and wasn’t permitted by his professor to take leave to participate in the debate. Shylock Edwards, Ollando’s campaign manager, represented Ollando for the first half of the debate and clarified that his stance was only a reflection of Ollando’s perspective and not of his own.
Rafee was quite the jokester throughout the evening and really lightened the mood amongst the candidates. Drew, who was a transfer student, highlighted the necessity of student involvement and how much involvement impacted his life positively. Valerie Caswell emphasized to students that she was for inclusivity and sustainability. Vicky Jie Li highlighted to students that there has yet to be any Southeast Asian members of the Board, signifying that there was a gap that needed to be filled considering the fact that students that hail from South Korea, Japan and China make up a large portion of the student body.
Nikhil Sharma confidently stated his agenda if elected, and outlined his efforts in founding the Marketing society in his first year. The very involved and engaged Alyssa Frampton spoke about her work with Non-for-profit organizations and her passion towards mental health. Yuri Kumar captured the audience with his motivating speech about being there for students. And lastly but certainly not least, Mitchell Archibald spoke about his past experiences in working in policy decisions and the creativity that comes with that. All in all, every one of the candidates really made me proud to be a SMUdent! Seeing all this passion and talk of inclusivity, transparency, accountability…and many other improvements that need to be made at the University, is quite inspirational. Also, witnessing the emotional response of some candidates after a question was addressed to them regarding mental health, makes me really hopeful about this coming generation. On March 9, 2017 it was announced that, Valerie Caswell, Vicky Jie Li, Ollando Brown, Mitchell Archibald, and Omar Semeda became the newly elected Board members! Congrats to all the candidates and wonderful job to all those that participating in the elections. All the best!