ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR
For the second time in two years, and after multiple years of uncontested elections, two candidates are competing for the position of Student Government Association (SGA) president.
Junior Natalie Criscenzo, an energy and environment policy and public policy double major, is running her campaign against junior Perry Spiegel, a junior majoring in political science. The winner of this election will replace current president Matthew Rojas.
The two candidates share a similar set of policy initiatives and ideas in their campaigns for the presidency. Both Spiegel and Criscenzo advocate for increased transparency of resources for victims of sexual misconduct, enhancing and coordinating outreach of SGA’s activity and involving more student voices in deciding the organization’s goals.
However, there are differences in how long each candidate has spent in SGA, the evolution of their roles within the group and their campaign’s proposed major initiatives.
During the first days of her freshmen year, Criscenzo was anxious and excited to learn about the litany of student groups around campus. SGA in particular stood out to her for their honesty and commitment to the university.
Criscenzo’s first encounter with the group was during activities night, and she said that her conversation with the president at the time left an indelible mark, motivating her to seek out opportunities with SGA.
“To see someone be honest and say, ‘yeah, we really do have some shortfalls, and we can help change it’ was something I wanted to be involved in,” she said.
Joining the student affairs committee her freshman year, Criscenzo said that she took the opportunity to learn as much as she could. Among the many things she learned during her time on the committee is how SGA was involved with the creation of the position of sustainability manager, currently held by Michelle Bennett.
Possessing a deep passion for sustainability already, Criscenzo made this issue one of her focal points for sophomore year and beyond. Since then, Criscenzo has coordinated the addition of recycle bins in on-campus buildings, as well as recycling events aimed at increased public awareness about proper recycling etiquette.
But her best intentions cannot solve the larger issue of on-campus sustainability, she said. In order make the campus more sustainable, Criscenzo has sought the aid from members of the Board of Trustees in the hope to receive attention, and more importantly, gain funding.
“As the representatives of students, we [SGA representatives] voice our concerns and need for more funding because this is something on campus that people really care about,” she said. “I think just constant reminders to the administrators that we’re not backing down on this will eventually begin to make a difference.”
Other issues important to Criscenzo include a more student-centric conversation about sexual misconduct, making sure that every student knows the resources available to them. She, like her opponent, has played an active role in the upcoming “It’s On Us” rally, set to happen Friday.
Criscenzo said the rally will feature student voices and victims of sexual misconduct, reiterating her point that the event should focus on the student.
“It’s an issue that has been very near and dear to my heart for a long time,” she said. “I know that after the campus climate survey was put out two years ago, we see that it’s an issue on this campus. One in five women and about one in 10 men on our campus have had an issue with sexual misconduct, which is huge. In the planning of the rally, we wanted it to be student-based.”
Much like Criscenzo, Spiegel will be running on a platform that focuses on sexual misconduct awareness. He said that his one year of SGA experience has left him wanting more, and that he hopes to take a leadership role on many issues surrounding the university.
For a while, Spiegel felt isolated on campus, feeling as though he had not found his niche. It took him up until sophomore year to find his place, joining and eventually becoming social chair of the Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity.
In this role, Spiegel remarked over the newfound connections he was making with other university groups. He said that through his position, he learned a lot more about the inner workings of the university and the groups that stand out amongst the crowd. One of those groups was SGA.
At the end of his sophomore year, Spiegel joined the governing body as a programming senator, coordinating the purchase of SGA apparel. From there, Spiegel said that he drew his inspiration to run for president from Rojas.
Among the issues on the docket for Spiegel is increasing the visibility of SGA affairs. He said a lot of students don’t notice the work of the group, which he said affects the everyday lives of many students. The printers in on-campus buildings, the push to make university grounds smoking-free — these were all items from SGA’s docket that the group passed, Spiegel said.
If elected, Spiegel hopes to use social media to highlight these successes.
“Right now, on our Instagram, we have about 200 followers,” he said. “We have a 20,000-student campus. I want people to know that things are getting accomplished.”
Describing some of the other issues on his agenda, Speigel said that he hopes to bring a large, campus-wide day of service similar to Virginia Tech’s “The Big Event.” Partnering with local communities, including Wilmington and the greater Philadelphia area, Speigel said that the objective would be to get as many students as possible to affect positive change in these enclaves — places, he said, that need the most help.
Speigel also elaborated on the work he has done with the Career Services Center (CSC). He said that after working with CSC Director Nathan Elton, they found that many students weren’t aware of the resources offered through the center. Services like Handshake and Career Shift, offered through the center, are widely unknown or unused by students, he said.
“We want to make sure all First Year Experience courses teach you how to write cover letters, resumes and how to use Handshake and Career Shift,” he said. “We need to educate students young, when they are freshmen.”
Elections will be taking place through email until Wednesday at midnight. Students can vote online through the email link they received from “SGA Student Elections” on Monday morning.