Jeff Castro ’24 and Hope Kamal ’24 took to the Hyman Forum stage for the SGA presidential ticket debate earlier today. The Quindecim attended the debate, and put together the following summary of where each candidate stands on major issues brought up. SGA elections will be held Friday, November 18.
Issues discussed from questions asked by moderator Elizabeth Bobo ’23, SGA Director of Student Organizations:
Background on each ticket:
Jeff is a junior double majoring in Economics and Political Science. He is the current SGA Treasurer and a goalkeeper on the men’s soccer team. His running mates are Olivia Reichardt ’25, Vice President, and Andrea Casique ’23, treasurer.
Hope is a junior majoring in Neuroscience with a pre-med concentration and double minoring in Creative Writing and Music. They are currently SGA Chief-of-Staff. Her running mate is Siham Mohamed ’24, Vice President.
Main goal during their administration, if elected:
Hope: Making Goucher more inclusive by upgrading accessibility services on campus and making minority groups included. Fix overall negative sentiments with how issues on campus are being handled.
Jeff: End the disconnect between various administrative offices on campus and the student body by assigning SGA officers to be liaisons to certain offices. Decrease response times for various services (i.e. FMS work orders).
Issues they view as most pressing to Goucher students:
Jeff: Equity and inclusion being implemented on campus. Marginalized groups have felt ignored by President Devereaux in his recent emails addressing antisemitism since issues against Black and Brown communities do not get as much attention from him. He said that these issues should be acknowledged.
Hope: The lack of accessibility should be tackled immediately. Mental health is a big issue that there is lots of talk but little action around. They aim to work with the Wellness Center, Counseling Center, and Office of Accessibility to limit burnout and fatigue among students, as well as allow excused absences for mental health reasons.
SGA President responsibilities, in their view:
Hope: Being president is a responsibility, not a power, and representing every member of the Goucher community is important. The president should be a link between students and administration, echoing students thoughts and needs and taking action when needed.
Jeff: The president is the “chief student representative,” acting as the middle person between students and administration. Being president is a privilege, and they need to know how students feel and be able to understand multiple perspectives.
The lack of school spirit and pride:
Hope: Students do not feel represented and that is why they do not feel pride. A culture of inclusivity needs to be cultivated. If elected, Hope would do this by having their door open to every student to voice their opinion and inviting alums for events, specifically people of color.
Jeff: School pride comes from traditions and events happening on campus, such as Soul Food Friday, the Winter Gala, and No Swipe Wednesday in the dining hall for commuters. If elected, Jeff would bring back old traditions such as these, and implement new traditions.
Experience working with current and former administration members:
Hope: They have held various jobs at Goucher, including SGA Chief-of-Staff, an SI, and Goucher Guide. Following controversy on the Gopher App, they hosted a community conversation attended by the college President and Rabbi. As an international student, they have worked with administrators in the international offices.
Jeff: His position as SGA treasurer has connected him with the Office of Student Engagement and various administration members. He has made SGA recognized within those offices.
How they would cultivate a cohesive environment where Goucher students of all backgrounds feel heard:
Jeff: Diversity at Goucher is what makes us Goucher and is one of the reasons he chose the school. In order to do their job, the president needs to know how people feel and provide a platform for every student’s voice to be heard.
Hope: Diversity is important and makes us stronger. Unity can come from normalizing cultural expression, such as showing up to class in one’s cultural dress or speaking non-English first languages in common spaces. Events where people share their cultural traditions with the community can unite people.
Being visible to students as SGA President:
Jeff: He is a commuter, but spends 12-14 hours a day on campus due to various commitments. Despite not having a meal plan and having to go without food at times, he loves being on campus and will be visible to students.
Hope: Cultivated a friendly, opening environment with their mentees as a Goucher Guide, and would aim to do the same as president. She values hearing opinions and having an open-door policy. Hope said they are an open, friendly person which something innate, and they enjoy being approachable.
Continuation of current SGA initiatives (menstrual products in bathrooms, textbook assistance programs, etc.)
Hope: Plans on continuing these initiatives from President Ty’lor Schnella. In her role as Chief-of-Staff, she supervised other officers and stepped into help when they were struggling.
Jeff: Plans to continue these initiatives and admires President Schnella’s work on these. He will make changes to existing services if needed and plans to offer more “wrap-around” services to eliminate financial barriers to student success (i.e. parking passes). He hopes to continue the textbook assistance program but require professors release syllabi prior to course registration to allow students enough time to apply for the program before classes start.
Each candidate was asked one specific question geared toward their previous extracurricular background.
Hope- What specifically was required in your previous role as Chief-of-Staff?
They supervised other positions, gaining knowledge on how various SGA offices function. She did scheduling for President Schnella, completed refills for the Flo (menstrual product) project, filled in for other offices when needed, and kept people on track with their responsibilities.
Jeff- How would you bridge the divide between athletes and non-athletes?
He believes the divide is unnecessary. As a member of the soccer team, he does not think being an athlete makes one student different from another. Having more campus-wide events would bring people together and unite the Goucher community.
Questions from the audience:
How do you plan on increasing communication between SGA and students?
Jeff: Revamping SGA’s social media and using it to raise awareness of events to better connect with students.
Hope: Remembering SGA is part of the student body as well, and being more honest and upfront with students. The president should be open to being approached on campus with questions and/or critiques.
In what specific ways do you plan on making the campus more accessible?
Jeff: Working with FMS to make sure spaces are better accommodating people with physical and/or mental disabilities (i.e. the new post office location).
Hope: Connect with people who need accessibility improvements and using their input to take action. Hold administrative offices accountable for solving issues of accessibility.
What are your plans to help commuters on Goucher’s campus?
Jeff: Fixing the commuter lounge, which is sometimes locked and does not have adequate seating arrangements. He said that being a commuter is very hard on this campus and he wants to offer more “wrap-around” services to help commuters access food while on campus.
Hope: They found commuting their sophomore year very difficult and wants to work with administration to solve this problem. She said that having temporary private rooms for commuters to nap or potentially stay over for one night would be beneficial, as well as offering more accommodating dining hall services for commuters.
There were no microphones at the debate due to technical difficulties, and as a result the Quindecim’s audio recording did not pick up the voices of those speaking. Therefore, we are unable to provide direct quotes, but the following article was put together with notes diligently taken by our Editor-in-Chief as the candidates were speaking. If either ticket feels they are misrepresented by these paraphrased statements, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.