New SGA officers cite visibility, transparency as goals

Graphic by Leah Devorak|Photo Editor
The new Student Government Association executive board for the 2017-18 term, led by President-elect Olivia Erickson. Over 1,000 students voted on Election Day Feb. 21, which is down from 1,300 voters last year and on par with 1,000 in 2015. The only contested races were for President and Vice President of Communications.

Brandon Addeo | News Editor

Over 1,000 Duquesne students elected a new Student Government Association President and four new executive board members Feb. 21.

Olivia Erickson and Maria Miller, both of the MUST Party, were elected SGA President and Vice President of Communications, respectively. Three other candidates won uncontested races for positions on the SGA Executive Board: Kevin Stalker of the Forward Party will be the new Vice President of Student Life; Stephen O’Brion of the Forward Party will be the new Vice President of Academics; and Matthew Kajfez, who is not party-affiliated, will be the new Vice President of Finance.

Erickson, a fourth-year pharmacy major, said she was “ecstatic” to win the SGA presidency.

“I’m excited to head the 46th Senate and work with my fellow executive members to serve the Duquesne community,” she said.

Erickson said one of the major changes she would like to make is creating new daytime hours for the SGA Loop Bus. She added she also wants to increase the SGA’s presence on campus by sponsoring tabling events with SGA senators in senators’ respective schools.

Miller said her focus as Vice President of Communications is to make the SGA a more “transparent” organization.

“I hope to do this by utilizing all social media outlets for SGA and by forming collaborative relationships with other media-based university organizations, such as The Duquesne Duke, Duquesne Student Radio and Duquesne Student Television,” she said.

Kajfez, a sophomore finance major, also said he wants to create more awareness on campus of what the SGA does. He added that he wants student organizations on campus to be aware of opportunities to seek “financial assistance” through the SGA, particularly through conference appropriations.

O’Brion, a sophomore political science and corporate communications double major, said he plans on expanding the Student Government Book Loan Program, which started two years ago. He said he also wants to work with the registrar’s office to “streamline and promote” cross registration with other Pittsburgh universities.

Stalker, a junior political science and rhetoric double major, said he wants to use his role as Vice President of Student Life to “bring students together” and “raise the morale” on campus. He added he will promote sustainability on campus.

“It would be good to see more students aware of the importance of recycling materials, reusing water bottles and composting food,” he said.

On Feb. 20, candidates for the contested positions of SGA President and Vice President of Student Life participated in a debate hosted by The Duquesne Duke and Duquesne Student Television.

In light of two recent sexual assault allegations at Duquesne, Erickson suggested at the debate the creation of a committee on sexual violence within SGA.

“It’s important to partner with Duquesne Police,” she said. “We’ve worked with Chief [Thomas] Hart in the past and I think it’s important to develop that and push that opportunity to students.”

When asked, Erickson also said she would consider supporting the creation of designated smoking areas on campus.

“I think it would also be great to be a smoke-free campus,” she said. “If there are students who would not feel comfortable being a smoke-free campus, I think it’s important to offer them a space for that, like they do at amusement parks.”