SGA Presidential debate highlights differences

Sexual assault, fossil fuel divestment and housing issues were just some of the topics discussed in the SGA presidential and vice presidential debates. The debate took place March 23 in Brennan’s Pub in the Davis Center.

Presidential candidates at the debate included senior Dylan Letendre and juniors Jason Maulucci and Caroline DeCunzo. Vice presidential candidates at the debate included sophomore Tyler Davis, junior Sam Ghazey and senior Jonathan Cares.

Junior Khalil Lee, who is running for president, was excused from the debate due to a prior commitment, said Lachlan Francis, chair of the SGA elections committee.

“He’s at a debate tournament, ironically,” Francis said.

Maulucci and Davis, who are running on the same ticket, were sanctioned for not meeting the deadline to turn in their platforms, and because of this, they will not be listed on the SGA website, Davis said.

They will still be on the ballot, and their platforms can be found on their campaign’s Facebook page, he said. Lee was also sanctioned for not disclosing the receipts for professional photos taken of himself, which he had paid for, Francis said. His campaign was fined $25, which is one-sixth of his campaign budget, he said. 

Elections will be held March 24-25 and results will be released March 26. To vote, click here

Check out the debate introductions below

 

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Presidential candidates

 

Caroline DeCunzo

BWSGA_CarolineNEW
Caroline DeCunzo is running for SGA president.

Caroline DeCunzo said she is running because of the love she has for the UVM community.

“I am inspired by the level of engagement that people have exhibited,” she said.

Increasing students’ ability to be a part of decisions that are made on campus is something DeCunzo said she would focus on. She mentioned using SGA as a “hub” to communicate these issues.

“We are big fans of DeCunzo and Ghazey,” junior Charlie Hill said. “In general, I haven’t heard anything from the other candidates.”

“Students of color are by far the most knowledgeable

on what needs to change on campus,” DeCunzo said.

DeCunzo believes in having “active academic critique” when it comes to diversity on campus.

“Students of color are by far the most knowledgeable on what needs to change on campus,” DeCunzo said.

DeCunzo also said she would push for more full-time faculty hires, among other things.

“I unequivocally approve fossil fuel divestment,” DeCunzo said.

DeCunzo said she did not support was the privatization of off-campus housing, due to the effect that students’ presence has on downtown Burlington. She also feels strongly about lack of accessibility for students with disabilities.

“Currently, the ways for disabled students to get on and off campus are really limited,” DeCunzo said.

Regarding sexual assault, DeCunzo said she doesn’t think the issue lies in men not asking for consent. She said she thinks the problem lies in men thinking they have the right to access women’s bodies. She would like to focus on the way we talk about sexual assault.

 

 

Dylan Letendre

BWSGA_DylanNEW
Dylan Letendre is running for SGA president.

 

Dylan Letendre, a political science and environmental studies double major, is running because he “has the experience and knowledge of how UVM works to run the office.”

As president, he said he would focus on issues of affordability and making sure the academic experience is “exceptional.”

 

“I think the diversity requirements that we have are not as good as they could be,” Letendre said.

 

Two major projects that Letendre said he would focus on would be to fund unpaid internships and to make resources such as the ALANA, LGBTQA+ and Women’s centers more accessible to students.

“I think the diversity requirements that we have are not as good as they could be,” Letendre said.

Knowledge of UVM, communication and empathy are what Letendre believes are the top three characteristics for the position of SGA president.

Letendre said communication between the SGA and international students is an important issue in the area of diversity on campus.

 

 

Jason Maulucci

BWSGA_JasonNEW
Jason Maulucci is running for SGA president.

Jason Maulucci, an economics and political science double major, is running because he believes the SGA has a profound role in “shaping the student experience.”

As current speaker of the SGA senate, he said that he feels that he has the knowledge to lead the organization into the future.

Making sure that everyone’s voice is heard including those not in SGA or leadership positions, is an issue that Maulucci said he wants to focus on.

Maulucci said he would work toward making academic syllabi available to students before they register for classes.

“I think that students having this extra knowledge would improve students’ overall academic experience,” he said.

 

“I certainly don’t support the tobacco initiative,” Maulucci said.

 

Maulucci said he has heard that a big concern that international students have is that they are all grouped together in the Marsh Austin Tupper residence complex.

“One concern that I’ve heard from them is that it doesn’t really allow them to mix [with other students],” Maulucci said.

He discussed the benefits of the group One in Four, which is an all-male group that advocates against sexual assault.

Maulucci said he believes that the top three characteristics of an SGA president should be motivation, inclusion and experience.

“I certainly don’t support the tobacco initiative,” Maulucci said.

“We didn’t come to Brennan’s for the debate, but we’ve seen them [the candidates] at clubs and sororities,” senior Jillian Brown said.

 

Vice-presidential candidates

 

Sam Ghazey

BWSGA_SAM
Sam Ghazey is running for SGA vice president.

 

Vice presidential candidate Sam Ghazey said that problem solving needs to take a “transdisciplinary” approach and that working with clubs such as Student Climate Culture, which promotes fossil fuel divestment, has given him experience with “how to navigate our school.” 

Ghazey is running with Caroline DeCunzo

Ghazey said he would ensure proper undergraduate representation when it comes to campus-wide issues. He said he wants to foster “a very fluid connection and conversation about what students want and how they can achieve it.”

In regard to the tobacco-free initiative, “I never believe that prohibition is the way that we should be going,” he said.

On the topic of supporting divestment from fossil fuels, Ghazey said that he has been campaigning very hard for divestment.

Ghazey said he wants to give more autonomy to professors to choose their own personal advising style, in regard to the academic side of governing SGA.

 

“We need to think about the demographics

that really need housing,” he said.

 

“A lot of Muslim students don’t have a place to pray on campus,” Ghazey said, in responding to a question about diversity on campus.

In regards to upcoming housing changes, he said he would advocate for more low-income housing within the city of Burlington.

“We need to think about the demographics that really need housing,” he said.

“I thought Sam and Caroline killed it,” first-year Nick Scott said.

 

 

Jonathan Cares

BWSGA_JonathanNEW
Jonathan Cares is running for SGA vice president

Jonathan Cares, chair of the SGA’s student action committee, believes he has the knowledge of SGA and the student body to give the students what they want.

He wants to make sure that SGA clubs are more accessible to students. He explained how some students want to get involved, but don’t know where to start.

“I would want to create a database to assign people to committees with more continuity,” he said.

 

“I really would push for an advising center,

I think that’s what this campus needs,” he said.

 

“There has a been a severe lack of communication with the tobacco-free initiative,” Cares said. “I think that needs to be improved.”

“I really would push for an advising center, I think that’s what this campus needs,” he said.

Cares wants to change the D1 and D2 requirements, and make the focus on issues happening on campus.

He explained that he is also a proponent of the creation of an interfaith center on campus.

Cares also said he wants to form committee groups for students to discuss the temporary housing of students next year at Quarry Hill and the Sheraton Hotel.

 

Tyler Davis

BWSGA_TylerNEW
Tyler Davis is running for SGA vice president.

 

Tyler Davis said that, as vice president, he wants to bring the “great UVM experience” that he has had to everybody. Davis is running alongside Jason Maulucci. 

“The reality is that construction is a secondary problem to students feeling at home here,” Davis said.

 

“I think you would be hard-pressed to find

a student who wouldn’t want their university

to look better,” he said.

 

Davis said he wants to see more communication between students and non-student residents of Burlington. He also wants to focus on combating sexual assault on campus.

“Being part of the problem is not saying anything at all,” Davis said.

“I think you would be hard-pressed to find a student who wouldn’t want their university to look better,” he said.

To improve the overall academic experience, Davis said he would push towards creating a more positive advising experience for students.

Davis, who says he is a quick learner, explains how, although diversity isn’t his “strong suit,” he is willing to make connections and make diversity a top priority.

“Two of the candidates, Jason and Tyler, came to speak to our sorority, Tri Delta,” sophomore Catherine Douglass said. “They spoke to us about what’s on their platform and they showed really big support for Greek life.”