Image courtesy of the WeCU
By Eva Lynch
Spring semester at Catholic University has long been characterized by vibrant campaigns and contentious elections for the Student Government Association’s Executive Board. This year’s ticket for the 2021-2022 Executive Board features two campaigns: WeCU and Hands to Serve, Hearts to Lead.
The WeCU ticket presents presidential candidate Alan Cunningham, a junior politics major involved in College Democrats and residence life, specifically as North Neighborhood 2 president during his freshman year. Cunningham shared with the Tower the primary reasons that he is running for SGA executive board.
“Pretty simply, I feel like I have issues with SGA, and I feel like as it is now, it doesn’t represent me,” Cunningham said. “I know I’m not alone, and I’d rather be doing something about my concerns than sitting on the sidelines. I felt compelled to stand up for everybody.”
Alongside Cunningham is vice presidential candidate Jordan Farrell, a junior sociology and politics major involved in several different fields on campus, acting as a member of the women’s golf team, a director on the Treasury Board, and a co-founder and co-president of Ignite.
“My motivation to run for the SGA executive comes from seeing a lot of different issues on campus that aren’t being addressed,” Farrell said. “We wanted to offer students an alternate choice as people who have experience on SGA but also as underdogs who have experiences outside student government as well.”
Rounding out the WeCU ticket is secretarial candidate Grace Birth, sophomore social work major from Baltimore, Maryland. Cunningham shared that he was empowered to continue the campaign and even more inspired to win after hearing Birth’s sentiments about running to meet the need for representation in SGA.
“Grace is incredible,” said Cunningham of his running mate. “I could go on for a while about it, but when we were putting together this team, signing Grace up was probably the smartest move we ever made. She is an incredible advocate, an incredible student leader, and she’s incredibly passionate about the issues that are present on this campus.”
Cunningham and Farrell also spoke about having different SGA-related experiences than the other ticket, primarily that their involvement, while it includes SGA, also includes membership in many other organizations.
“This race is not personal, Abby Anger was one of my first friends here at Catholic,” Cunnigham said. “Our campaign is about reimagining SGA and creating new avenues for student power and advocacy. We want to create a new culture within the executive that hears the concerns of everyday students and sees how we can stand up and fight for them.”
“Thankfully, experience is not something that really defines what makes a student leader. I think results do, and action does.” Cunningham continued. “Right now, SGA, particularly on the executive level, does not have a track record of really standing up in an impactful way that allows all students to be heard. Too often we see people in SGA make the move to choose inaction instead of action, which in itself is still a choice.”
The WeCU campaign has several policy ideas lined up that are inspired by the pillars of their campaign: representation, inclusivity, and community. They will advocate for student workers, especially for compensation according to the D.C. $15 minimum wage. Further, they will bridge the gap between upper and lower classmen through tangible institutions like a mentorship program, as well as address a similar gap within the Senate by fostering closer relationships between undergraduate representatives and the deans of each school. Lastly, they will address Catholic University’s freshman retention rate as a student organization instead of leaving it to the administration, through efforts like student-run surveys and a task force dedicated to the issue.
“Our race is about redefining SGA’s role as the champions of the student body and really being the individuals that are standing up for us. When administration turns down the issues, we want to be the ones fighting and championing the rights of all of these students, whether it’s [CU]Allies being pushed out, whether it’s students not being paid, whether it’s jobs being cut, or schools being left behind. We want to be the ones pushing the new ideas that the students desperately need and will directly impact their lives,” Cunningham said. “We CU.”
Farrell and Cunningham shared that their campaign is overcoming challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic and spreading awareness about their campaign, specifically that their campaigning has to be done entirely over social media. They’ve adapted to run a highly interactive and inclusive campaign, including events like frequent conversations with students from all walks of campus to ensure their perspective is heard and involved in policymaking.
“The core of our campaign is that it’s not about us. We want to and will do our best to advocate for issues that students are encountering,” Farrell said.
If elected, the WeCU campaign is excited to advocate for students’ rights, to stand up for students even when the going gets tough, and to redefine SGA’s role as a champion for students. If there’s one thing to remember about this team, it’s that they see you; all of you.
Voting day is quickly approaching on April 6. Students should log on to The Nest before 10 pm EST to cast their votes for next year’s SGA executive board as well as other elected positions. You can also follow each campaign on their various social media platforms: Hands and Hearts, WeCU.