Students to choose new president

An SGA presidential campaign video set against a projection of a galaxy photo and scored with the “Game of Thrones” theme song has been viewed over 6 thousand times, according to Facebook.


The video was produced by candidate junior Niko Wu, a sociology major. Wu is running against junior Chris Petrillo, a mechanical engineering major.


“It’s a funny video, but SGA president is a very, very serious position.”

— Jason Maulucci, current SGA president


Maulucci endorsed Petrillo for the position at an SGA meeting on March 21. Voting for the elections opened at 8 a.m. on March 28 and will close at 4 p.m. on March 29.


Maulucci said it is Petrillo’s substantial, detailed platform and demonstrated preparation for the role that garnered him the incumbent’s support.


He said that Petrillo shadowed him in the weeks before the election to get an understanding of what responsibilities the presidency entails.


Maulucci encouraged students to look closely at the candidates’ platforms and choose the candidate with the most substantial platform.


“Petrillo has a clear and firm grasp of the issues at hand,” Maulucci said. “He has good ideas and will provide fresh perspectives. He’s shown to me that he’s an incredibly hard worker, and that he really cares. He’s the best candidate for the job.”


In order to run, presidential and vice-presidential candidates must collect at least 500 signatures each.


In response to concerns that the election process was rushed in years past, Maulucci said SGA took steps last year to move deadlines back.


This year, SGA announced the date, rules and other details of the election on February 22.


Election packets, which include the election schedule, campaign rules and a petition to be signed by students, were made available to candidates before spring break.


Petrillo and his running mate, junior Nicole Woodcock, picked up their packets the week before break,  Maulucci said


Wu picked up his packet on March 21, the day before signatures were due, according to Maulucci. He collected over 500 signatures by the following day, Maulucci said.


Wu said if his platform seems rushed, it’s only because he decided to run 15 minutes before the deadline to declare.


“I AM IN HERE,” Wu’s platform states. “When I worked for SGA last year, I recognized that SGA could truly do a lot connection with different organization around campus. Living Well. ResLife. Dining Hall. Or Lovely Bus Transportation.”


If elected, Wu will use his role as president to help enhance the connections among students, clubs, SGA and other University affiliates, he said.


Wu, who is a resident adviser in the Wing Davis Wilks complex, learned about the importance of communication and feedback when he served as a senator on SGA’s committee for club affairs last year, he said.


“In my opinion, our students are the shining stars,” Wu said in the video. “We are brilliant with our fantastic ideas to make our fantastic sky called UVM.”


Petrillo’s platform focuses on continuing projects that current SGA President Jason Maulucci and Vice President Tyler Davis began in their historic two-year tenure on SGA’s executive board, he said.


During their tenure, the first two-year term in over 50 years, SGA Senate had an 80 percent senator retention rate, which was higher than in years past, according to a May 2016 Cynic article.


Petrillo plans to continue several projects that Maulucci and Davis started: continuing the work of the Peer Advising and Mentoring Center, the Safe Ride program slated to begin in the fall and the Catamount Innovation Fund, which will provide funding to student entrepreneurs, Maulucci said.


Petrillo said he wants to protect students’ academic freedom, elaborate on student rights and improve the delivery of student health services by shortening wait times for mental health appointments at Counseling and Psychiatry Services.  


“I’m voting for Niko because he’s easygoing and friendly; he gets along with everyone,” first-year Justin Schimmel said. “That can be applied to dealing with people and programs in the presidency.”


Still, some students are unaware that the election is happening. Sophomores Lauryn Rowland, Charlotte Hoeft and junior Cooper Long said they were not aware of who was running in the election.


While Hoeft was aware that new SGA positions were open, she thought new positions were only in the senate, she said.


In the final days leading up to the election, Woodcock said she had a message for students going to vote.


“Think really critically about what people are standing for,” Woodcock said. “Are things really going to get done?”