What may have been a competitive election this year at PUC for SGA Student Body President will now have only one candidate on the ballot. Marisa Henderson and Jonathan "Jon" Rachowicz were the only candidates to qualify for the ballot by the March 1 deadline, but Rachowicz subsequently withdrew his candidacy.
Henderson, a sophomore majoring in both political science and Spanish, said her main goal is to increase students' involvement in student government. She said only 6 percent of students participate in SGA elections, and the low involvement can inhibit the SGA's representation of student concerns.
"Student government essentially represents students," Henderson said. "And if we have the student body unaware that the student government represents them in these aspects, then we can't really do our job."
What students need, she said, is an awareness of the ability the SGA has to advance their interests. As examples of avenues through which the SGA can effect changes, she cited the SGA's positions on committees dealing with student fees and its place on the Food Service Advisory Council.
Henderson's former opponent had made the present setup of the university's food service the central part of his campaign.
Rachowicz, a PUC graduate now seeking a master's degree in mathematics, is especially dissatisfied that Chartwells operates the only three available food outlets on the campus. He said Chartwells can charge whatever it wants for its food because students do not have time between classes to go elsewhere to eat.
"I don't think any business should have a monopoly on a campus where some students do not have other options," he said. He proposed giving another company the two smaller of the food outlets on the campus.
Philip Brown, PUC's director of procurement and general services, said that the university has a contract with Chartwells through May 2016 and the contract would not allow taking these two outlets away from Chartwells.
While ending his campaign, Rachowicz said that he believed he could do more for the students by concentrating his efforts on fixing what he called a "food crisis." Besides prices, he cited student concerns with the health, value and general quality of the food.
Henderson said that she would have to work within the university's relationship with Chartwells, but expressed hope that changes could be made to meet students' concerns.
Henderson and Daniel Curtin, Henderson's running mate for the SGA's Executive Board, spoke of the importance of making the university multicultural. Henderson herself works as a mentor in the university's International Programs Office, which promotes studying abroad and helps international students understand American culture.
Henderson also wants to promote student activities and cooperation among student organizations. She gave the example of continuing the SGA's work on a student organization council, which would be a decision-making body with representation from all student organizations.
She said she encourages more involvement by students in order to make the university more welcoming.
"I feel like a lot of times students just see the school as a place that's in between them getting from point A to point B. It's just somewhere that they run through; not somewhere that they're really going to stay."
Henderson does not know of any disagreements between herself and the incumbent administration of President Jessie Martin. She said she plans to continue the initiatives the SGA has begun and start work on new ones as needs arise.
Jessie Martin, who has been student body president since 2010, will graduate in May. The new SGA executive board will take office before the end of the semester.
Rachowicz's name will no longer be on the ballot. Write-in votes, however, will now be counted, due to there being only one ticket on the ballot.
The election for all SGA positions will be March 26 through March 29. Students may cast their votes through their student e-mail accounts.
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