SGA hosts presidential Q&A, most candidates ran unopposed

Vish Dsouza '26, Student Government Association's President-elect for the 2024-2025 academic year. Photo courtesy of VIsh Dsouza.

The SGA presidential Q&A took place on Wednesday, April 17 at 5:30 p.m. The election committee and several students asked a series of questions to the candidate, Vishmitha Dsouza ‘26. Dsouza, first, had two minutes to deliver her opening statement. “I am honored to be running for student body president,” she said, “I believe the privilege of being supported and freely expressing one’s opinion is something that many people do not have and I’m grateful to be on the privileged side…protecting this fundamental right has been integral to me…”

Dsouza is a business and media & communication double major. Her leadership roles on campus include being the vice president of the South Asian Students Association (SASA), treasurer of the International Students Association (ISA) and a representative of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) committee. 

The first question from the election committee was, “In what ways do you think the campus can find more ways of connecting and building community amongst each other and what role do you see both SGA and the administration play in fostering that community? Dsouza responded, “I believe to build that sense of community, finding people that you still can find some sense of relatability, is important, and that’s where the affinity groups come into play for me…I have always felt this great sense of community amongst the affinity groups I’m involved in, but that can look different for a lot of people. A lot of people can find community with people that are completely different from them…I think being able to have that many opportunities and being able to have that many clubs and student resources is important, like SGA, we have been approving dozens of clubs every year…I want to work more on that, even if it’s for one person out there, I think that changes your whole college experience…With administration…as much as they want us to be proactive they also have to listen to us. If we have any feedback, I hope they’re open to working with and listening to us.”

One student asked, “With off campus housing closing, what role do you think SGA plays in the student experience?”  Dsouza replied, “…I love the uber college program…I think we need it to be renewed every semester…I also want to open our doors to the Allentown community. Allentown has great restaurants…the only problem is either we don’t have discounts or access to those places…Office of Community engagement is constantly working with that. We have the ride share program, so I would love to work and advance the efforts that they’ve already put in…”

The next question was, “How do you plan on supporting and uplifting the variety of student clubs and organizations as president and what do you see the role of representatives to be in these efforts?” Dsouza stated, “When Jake Forstein was the recording secretary, he started the club ambassador program…I think that’s a great program…this year we have been trying really hard to bridge that gap and uplift the student clubs, not necessarily how involved they are with student government. So, I think just working on making that better is one of the ways we can enhance what we already have…Another thing that comes to my mind is I want to promote that you can be involved with student government and the campus without being a student government representative. You can have ad-hoc. You just need a student government representative. We have signed up to serve the students. So if we could act more on that there could be more people that are involved in student government.”

The next question was, “How do you intend to prepare working with administration in ways that are productive and solution-oriented?”  She responded, “One thing I learned this year from Bridging the Gap, this leadership program… is to hear to listen, but not respond…I want to actually listen and that’s what I would expect the administration to do as well…listening to what they are doing and then bringing it back to my e-board and then putting together a solution that we think is more viable for student’s interests and then going back and talking to the administration about it…We find a middle ground where we are not completely radical opposites…I’m not here to stand against anyone…but rather work towards something that we both can achieve.”

The next question was, “Of all four of SGA’s committees, DEIB is the newest with only being on SGA for a total of three years now. How do you see the role of the SGA’s DEIB committee continuing to adapt to the campus needs?” She responded “DEIB should be reflective in every initiative taken by SGA, it’s not a job it’s a responsibility, and we all need to take that responsibility,” she said. “I hope we achieve a day when we don’t have events that are just put out by the DEIB committee…but rather we just have it in a way that is reflective of every aspect of SGA.”

The last question from the election committee was, “The role of president is to serve as a leader, not only on the executive board, but for the entire student government. In one word, what is one skill that you believe best encapsulates your ability to serve as a leader and how have you cultivated this skill throughout your other leadership experiences?”  Dsouza responded, “The one word is collaborative…my other leadership experience on campus include being a resident advisor, that whole job is based on collaboration. You collaborate with your residents all the time, you collaborate with housing, you collaborate with admissions…My other leadership on campus has also been very strong with collaboration…With ISA we collaborated with affinity and non-affinity groups…even my classes, I have a lot of group projects in my classes, so you need collaboration there too…I have learned collaboration throughout my life in the small and big groups I’ve been a part of. And one thing I have learned is that talking to and talking at your people are very different things. I would like to be a person who talks to my peers rather than talking at them as a president.” 

Dsouza and Sabeen Safi ‘26 won the elections for president and vice-president, respectively. Both races were uncontested. Jay Khoury ‘26, who also ran uncontested, won Treasurer. AJ Ring ‘26, Teigan Brown ‘25, Jimmy Kaba ‘26 and Josephine Glass ‘27 won the remaining E-board positions of Recording Secretary, Director of Communications, Campus Engagement Chair and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Chair, respectively. 


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