The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Candidates in Student Government special election speak at forum

Candidates+answered+questions+from+both+moderators+and+audience+members.
Photo by Sam Jackson for The Lafayette
Candidates answered questions from both moderators and audience members.

The Lafayette moderated a forum on Tuesday featuring the Student Government candidates running in the special election for inclusivity officer and parliamentarian.

Virginia Sacotingo ‘25 and Sasha Carter ‘27 — the candidates for inclusivity officer — and Ava Gallia ‘26 and William Gutiérrez ‘27 — the candidates for parliamentarian — fielded questions focusing on their platforms, track records and goals.

Sacotingo was first asked about her pledge to provide benefits to Student Government executive board members, including $250 in Pard Dollars each semester, free parking and 24/7 fob access to residence halls.

“I think that having these benefits recognizes the privileges that these students would like to have on campus,” Sacotingo said.

Sacotingo said that other colleges offer their student governments compensation. 77 percent of Student Government leaders are paid, according to the American Student Government Association.

When asked about the potential safety issues associated with granting 24/7 residence hall access to “unpaid, untrained individuals,” Sacotingo said that “if students, exec, representatives had the same training as RAs,” they could be trusted with access.

Sacotingo was later asked about the falsehoods in a campaign flyer posted to her Instagram. In the post, Sacotingo called herself a “five-term representative,” despite the fact that she has only served for one full term. Sacotingo defended herself by saying that the forum was the arena for correcting mistakes.

As of publication, the post remains live with the photo caption of her post edited to say “ONE YR*.”

Carter was asked about her plan to create an Equity and Inclusion Committee Instagram to promote multicultural clubs on campus, an account that already exists but is dormant. 

She said that students are more likely to turn to social media accounts to interact with diversity, equity and inclusion organizations on campus.

Carter also spoke about her initiative to create an anonymous form offering a space for equity and inclusion concerns from the student body – this would be a more personable alternative to the OnePard form, according to Carter.

Gutiérrez was then asked about his platform, which centers around a culture change within Student Government. He said that all class year representatives should be voted in by the student body.

“If we really want students to be at the center and forefront of every decision, students need to be the ones holding representatives directly accountable,” Gutiérrez said.

Gallia was asked why her platform offers no proposed changes to Student Government. 

“I don’t believe that there’s anything in the constitution that needs any sort of major overhaul,” she said.

Both Gallia and Gutiérrez were asked about how they would master the rules and regulations of Student Government before they are sworn in.

Gallia emphasized her “strong understanding of the Constitution,” having read through it and the bylaws multiple times. Gutiérrez cited his previous role as the Student Government correspondent for The Lafayette for his familiarity with its operations.

When asked about her platform on changing transparency with Student Government, Gallia replied “I do believe Student Government is transparent” and that there “may be some opportunities for some transparency.”

Gallia said she planned to create parliamentarian-specific office hours for this purpose to address any concerns in her purview.

Gutiérrez argued there is a lack of transparency within Student Government, claiming that students do not have the time to attend meetings — the reason he proposed recording them — and highlighted previous instances in which general body members had been prevented from speaking with The Lafayette.

The parliamentarian candidates were asked to contrast themselves from their two predecessors, both of whom quit before the end of their terms. Both candidates emphasized their commitment and dedication to the position.

Candidates were then asked to assess their “tangible impact” on the campus community.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily tangible,” Sacotingo said of her impact on students. “I think it’s something intangible, and I think that is the relationships and the bonds that I’ve built with them.”

Carter cited her limited time and fresh perspective as a first-year student and experience on the executive boards of ballet and dance clubs.

“I’d say the most tangible thing that I’m currently working on is my work like the Sustainability Committee,” Gallia said. She mentioned several campus-wide projects of the committee, such as the Graduation Gown Renewal Project.

For Gutiérrez’s most tangible impact, he again referenced his former role as The Lafayette’s Student Government correspondent to hold the organization accountable.

Candidates were then asked to give closing remarks.

“I think it’s become abundantly clear that this isn’t just between Ava and I,” Gutiérrez said. “It’s one about keeping things the same versus reforming.”

“I am running on a platform that supports the current constitution,” Gallia said. “I don’t think that requires any sort of great change but rather just active communication and listening.” 

Questions were then opened to the audience.

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About the Contributors
Selma O'Malley, News Editor
Waiting for someone to write a sitcom about a college newspaper.
Andreas Pelekis, Assistant News Editor
Tennis addict.

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