SGA elections are today: meet the candidates

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Voting is underway for the Student Government Association’s Monroe Park Campus Presidential and Vice Presidential positions. VCU will elect its representatives  from March 15 to March 17. Students can vote here.

Before you vote, get to know the candidates! There are three tickets that will run for the opportunity to represent the Monroe Park constituency, here’s what they said at Monday’s Presidential and Vice Presidential debate:

Presidential candidate Suraj “Sunshine” Telhaj and Vice Presidential candidate Tristan Ledbetter

Photo by Fadel Allassan
Tristan Ledbetter (left) and Suraj “Sunshine” Telhaj (right). Photo by Fadel Allassan.
  • On the biggest personal hurdle to overcome if elected

Telhaj: “My fear of not only girls, but of people who have authority over me. Like professors, faculty and staff. The way I was raised you’re more humble toward people who have a title over you, but I feel like as I progress an important thing is to know when to speak up.”

Ledbetter: “Balancing my time. Cause I’m gonna be entering my senior year, I’m running for this position, and I’m also an R.A. Taking time for myself and making sure I do like my senior year will be my biggest hurdle, and not getting stressed out too early.”

  • On changes you’d bring and how you’d be implement them

Telhan: “We want to run SGA next year by empowering the student body. There’s a ton of student leaders on campus but I feel like we only interact with such a few amount of people, if elected we really want to empower leaders.”

“We’d like to appoint students to the different committees who aren’t necessarily SGA.”

Ledbetter: “We want to get not just student leaders but students in general more involved with the SGA. We want a voice for student concerns.”

  • On diversity in the faculty and staff

Telhan: “The university’s touched it, but what the students would like to see, what the faculty would like to see is concrete details.”

“When we get elected to president and vice president, we want SGA to formally announce that black lives matter and that we’d like to see more diversity in our faculty.”

Ledbetter: “When elected we can advocate for the students and we can collaborate with OMSA and plan for events to really create a diverse atmosphere.”

Presidential candidate Katie Clark and Vice Presidential candidate Kedji Abazi

Photo by Fadel Allassan.
Katie Clark (left) and Kedji Abazi (right). Photo by Fadel Allassan.
  • On the biggest personal hurdle to overcome if you’re elected

Clark: “Taking time for myself. A lot of the time I’m really dedicated and all about what I’m doing and I don’t take the time to step back and say “Okay, Katie time.””

Abazi: “I get emotional about issues that are going on. I think approaching everything with a more positive attitude instead of an emotional one is something I can work on.”

  • On changes you’d bring and how you’d be implement them

Clark: “To me everything starts at home, you can’t go anywhere, be able to help others if you don’t have your stuff together. One of the big things that we have is making a lot of internal changes to SGA.”

“Just have an all-inclusive non-biased SGA.”

Abazi: “We know we won’t be able to solve all the problems that our very diverse student body has, however, we do promise we will start the conversation for every issue that is brought to our attention and for every issue we ourselves see at VCU.”

  • On diversity in the faculty and staff

Clark: “One of the things that Dr. Rao has done is put in training online to help staff understand of those issues. Right now it’s the only solution that’s been presented. I think that as student government our job is to put that through checks and balances to make sure that these steps he suggested are being implemented.”

Abazi: “The conversation has already been started by students. An important step is for us to continue and keep pushing that.”

“It should start with us educating our members, our delegates, our senators, our judicial members, our executive members and then going on to educating our student body.”

Presidential candidate MaryBeth DeMarco and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Kilmon

Photo by Fadel Allassan.
MaryBeth DeMarco (left) and Sarah Kilmon (right). Photo by Fadel Allassan.
  • On the biggest personal hurdle to overcome if elected

DeMarco: “Being in front of a large audience and having the confidence in myself to speak out and say what I want to say. I know what I want to say but I have a hard time articulating it to others.”

Kilmon: “Making sure I don’t get too passionate about what I’m working on. I think sometimes I get too stressed out because I’m too involved in what I’m doing. I think that can be something I have to think about in the future.”

  • On changes you’d bring and how you’d implement them

DeMarco: “We should continue working with the partnerships that we already have and ICF, the intercultural festival.”

Kilmon: “In the past year me being vice-chair and MaryBeth being vice president, we’ve had a strong impact on making sure the students in SGA feel as empowered as possible, and I feel like that’s our core mission.”

“If every senator in our senate, 40 senators, took one issue that they were concerned about and started working on solutions, we’d have 40 problems solved on our campus in one semester.”

  • On diversity in the faculty and staff

DeMarco: “We should continue working with the partnerships that we have and working with organizations.”

Kilmon: “I think this is a bigger issue than SGA. We won’t be able to solve this problem on our own, however, if we let students know about what SGA can do and how we can help…I think it’s important to note that the students who stood up to President Rao, we had a discussion with them and they didn’t even know what SGA was.”

“If we can foster diversity in our students we can grow that movement and get more diversity in our faculty.”


Print News Editor, Fadel Allassan

Fadel Allassan, photo by Brooke MarshFadel is a sophomore print journalism major. He is fluent in English, French and Sarcasm, and he probably doesn’t like you. Fadel enjoys writing about politics and making people drive him to Cook-Out. // Facebook | LinkedIn

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