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Students Elect 2020-2021 Student Government Association Senators

By Katie Ward

Elections for the 2020-2021 Catholic University of America Student Government Association (SGA) Senate took place on Wednesday, September 23. Two positions from each class and two from each undergraduate academic school were filled after the first-ever all-virtual campaign season. 

The SGA Senate meets every other week for senators to present to the body student-focused resolutions. Last year’s resolutions focused on matters such as extending the operational hours for the Kane Fitness Center, Mullen Library, and Pryzbyla Student Restaurant; adding sidewalks, crosswalks, and speed limit signs around campus; and adding printers, vending machines, and filtered water systems in buildings around campus. 

Almost 40 candidates ran for election virtually this year. Of the 25 elected, 14 will serve as first-time senators. 875 students voted in the elections on the Nest, the same procedure used in years past, according to SGA Vice President Gemma del Carmen. 

“In the virtual Senate this semester, I expect dynamic and impactful legislation from Senators that address serious, persistent issues on our campus,” del Carmen said. “During these unprecedented times, empowering and uplifting the voices of students has never been more important.” 

One vacancy in the School of Social Work will be filled “immediately by an interview process,” according to del Carmen, so that the Senate seats are all filled. 

Campaigning these past few weeks looked different than in previous years, as candidates, regardless of living on- or off-campus or remotely, were unable to campaign in person. 

Senior class senator Ally Kilgore decided to run for re-election in the senate because the class of 2021 “deserves a dedicated advocate now more than ever,” and that “as seniors we’re trying to balance our academic commitments along with post-grad plans including job and grad school applications, all amidst a pandemic.”

“Campaigning this year was definitely very different as my constituents are spread out across the country learning remotely,” she said. “Since I have been involved with SGA for so long, I decided to take a step back from any kind of intense virtual campaigning and let my record speak for itself.”

Sophomore Grace Birth decided to run to represent the School of Social Service because it is “somewhat forgotten about amongst undergrads.” 

“For senate this year, I want to see it through that we make very informed decisions regarding our potential return to campus,” Birth said. “I also want to address issues as brought up by the Instagram page @blackatcua and overall bring more attention to diversity and inclusion within our community.”

“As you know, totally online, it’s obviously a very new experience for all of you and for some of us back here too,” said SGA President Gerald Sharpe before announcing the results of the election via an Instagram live video. “Today was a day of tremendous school spirit, voter turnout was high and we had plenty of candidates.”

Sharpe also promoted open positions for SGA executive initiatives, research committee, and promotional staff. 

Student body Treasurer Brendan Civitello announced at the end of the live video the freshman additions to Treasury Board; Gabriel Molini will serve as the director for the class of 2024 and Anne Kleinle as Treasury Board secretary. 

The first Senate meeting of the academic year will be Monday, October 5 at 8:15 p.m. EST over Zoom and is open to all students. The Senate term runs through the end of finals week in May.

The results for the SGA Senate 2020-2021 term are as follows:

Class of 2021 – Daniel Paviglianiti, Alexandra Kilgore

Class of 2022- Philip Ahearn, Sophia Marsden

Class of 2023 – Maura Schlee, Dominic Decker

Class of 2024 – Jamie Besendorfer, Kyle Holcomb

School of Architecture – Katherine Janik, Richard Warren

School of Arts & Sciences – Allison Sijgers, Garrett Farrell

Busch School of Business – Joseph Galassi, Isabel Buckley

School of Engineering – Kaitlyn Caple, Christina Brown

Rome School of Music, Drama and Art – Cecilia Bracey, William Lucardi

Conway School of Nursing – Christina Hermann, Catherine Churilla

School of Philosophy – Connor Schmidt, Melissa Zentz

School of Social Service – Grace Birth, VACANCY

School of Theology – Jonathan Harrison, John Scott

Gemma Response

– How many students voted today?

This year, 875 students voted to elect Senators for the Sixth Student Government  Association Senate. 

– What is your plan for filling the social work and engineering school vacancies?

There is currently one vacancy in the Senate this year within the School of Social Work. This vacancy will be filled immediately via an interview process with students who are interested in filling the seat.While initially there were two seats that were vacant by the time the ballot was officially published, campaigns from two write-in candidates filled the respective vacancies in the Social Work and Engineering schools.

– When will the first Senate session be & what are your expectations for this virtual Senate semester?

The first Senate session will be held on Monday October 5, 2020 from 8:15-10:15pm EST. In the virtual Senate this semester, I expect dynamic and impactful legislation from Senators that address serious, persistent issues on our campus. 

– Any other thoughts/comments you’d like to share!

The Student Government Association is so thrilled to have such incredible interest in the Body in all areas. We look forward to a fruitful year where students can create impactful change on Catholic University’s campus. During these unprecedented times, empowering and uplifting the voices of students has never been more important. 

Alison Sijgers

– Why did you decide to run for Senate?

I decided to run for Senate because I have a passion for making positive change within the schools I attend. With all the challenges that COVID has presented, and the issues I have seen over the past four years, I was inspired to make a run for Arts and Sciences this year to leave the best impact on academics that I can at Catholic University. 

– How was virtually campaigning this year?

Virtual campaigning was both difficult and easy. It was difficult in the respect that I could only reach students with social media, and those I already had their contact information. It is hard to run knowing I am only reaching a small portion of the population. However, it was also easier in the respect that I could have designated time to spend campaigning through Instagram stories and post creations, and I didn’t have to worry about talking to every single person I would see around campus. I think virtual campaigns consume less of a candidate’s time, but also limits their ability to speak to the voters. 

– What are your plans for your term in the Senate & what expectations do you have for this virtual Senate semester?

My biggest goal for this term is to propose legislation to help the School of Arts and Sciences. We have a new Dean this year, and I hope to meet with him and his staff to discuss changes that students in Arts and Sciences, and across the school want to see. Arts and Sciences is such an important school because a large number of distribution requirements can only be fulfilled through that school. If the school isn’t running effectively it makes things difficult for all Catholic students. I want to make Arts and Sciences the best it can be. 

Sophia Marsden

I decided to run to make sure every student’s voice is heard. Virtual campaigning was super fun, and it provided us with a new and interesting way to reach voters. I’m super excited to work with my colleagues on issues such as reviewing the Title IX policies and working to provide more resources for the counseling center. The virtual Senate term will be a super unique learning experience, and being elected with amazing people, I can’t wait to have these new opportunities and connectedness provided virtually!

Ally Kilgore

I’ve now been a Senator since freshman year, but I decided to run for Senate this year particularly because the Class of 2021 deserves a dedicated advocate now more than ever. As seniors we’re trying to balance our academic commitments along with post-grad plans including job and grad school applications, all amidst a pandemic. Our class shouldn’t have to worry about what our last semester and graduation will look like, but unfortunately, given the circumstances, we do. As a Senator I’m hoping to ease some of that burden by leveraging my experience and communicating the Class’s concerns effectively.  Campaigning this year was definitely very different as my constituents are spread out across the country learning remotely. Since I have been involved with SGA for so long, I decided to take a step back from any kind of intense virtual campaigning and let my record speak for itself. Personally, I find myself  inundated with social media posts and emails, etc. every day, especially now that so much has been moved online, and I didn’t want my campaign to add to that or for that to be the tone of my campaign. My first priority is the SGA Townhall with President Garvey on Wednesday, September 30th at at 7:00 PM on Zoom. I encourage all seniors to attend and to submit questions via the form on the SGA website: sga.catholic.edu. Thank you!

Voting numbers

2017-2018 : 689

2018-2019 : 897

2019-2020 : 

2020-2021 : 875

5-1 res 1 kane hours

5-4 res 4 extended Mullen hours, res 5 printers in all academic buildings, res 6 Maloney vending machines

5-5 res 7 capital bikeshare

5-6 res 8 financial aid counselor identification, res 9 speed limit awareness

5-7 res 10 sidewalk, res 11 honor code signing for all students, res 12 all classes day of march for life cancelled

5-8 res 13 filtered water in gibbons, res 14 LC standardization, res 15 new portal, res 16 food services employee of the month

5-9 res 17 career fair

5-10 res 18 crosswalk

5-11 res 19 pass/fail, res 20 asynchronous lectures/student success

5-12  res 21 pryz hours, res 22 career fair

5-13 res 23 midterm conflicts

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