VCU’s Student Government Association will hold its executive officer elections this week.
Students will be voting on three positions:
- Vivek Kuruvilla running unopposed for president.
- Zara Zahid running unopposed for vice president of Graduate and Professional Students.
- Christopher Oltorik, Cameron Luster and Hassen Hafiz running for vice president of Undergraduate Students.
“All students want to be recognized and heard by the university administration,” said Keith Zirkle, vice president of Graduate and Professional Students. “I’d like to see the newly elected board [have] more communication and more frequent interactions between undergraduate and graduate students and their campuses.”
SGA serves as the governing body for student voices on both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses. In the summer of 2017, the Monroe Park and MCV SGAs merged to create a unified SGA. Now the undergraduate and graduate students work together alongside university administration to make changes to the university that align with what students want.
“I love working with everyone in SGA,” Oltorik said. “They all bring different perspectives to what our overall goals are.”
Oltorik and Kuruvilla have been a part of SGA throughout their time at VCU, holding multiple leadership positions within the organization. The pair has been campaigning together. Their platform includes fixing funding request opportunities and pushing the pursuit of more creative ideas from SGA members.
“I want to create an environment where ideas are fostered and conversations can be had,” Oltorik said. “As vice president, I could just focus on my ideas, but I think it’s more important to serve as a resource to all the senators and committee chairs.”
Luster who is a sophomore and also running for undergraduate vice president, based his campaign platform on the importance of informing students about tuition and financial aid.
“I want to connect, achieve and motivate the student body,” Luster said.
SGA functions within three branches — legislative, executive and judicial — with officers, senators and committees/subcommittees in each. The entire association is headed by a president, undergraduate vice president and graduate vice president.
To run for an SGA officer position, a candidate must fill out an application and get at least 100 signatures indicating student body support. For people running for senator positions, they must get at least 50 signatures. After the petitioning process, candidates give speeches and run their campaigns, leading up to the student body elections. The officer with the majority of votes from the student body begins governing in May.
Kuruvilla said the past two years he’s been involved with SGA have prepared him for a presidential role.
“It’s a cool experience helping VCU become a better place,” Kuruvilla said. “You’re kind of like a small cog in the greater machine that is SGA and working towards big goals.”
The running candidates presented their campaign platforms to the SGA undergraduate and graduate senates after petitioning ended. Students were able to hear candidate positions as well, at an open forum March 27.
Kuruvilla stressed the importance of both undergraduate and graduate students getting involved and especially coming out to vote.
“The continued support of the student body is really important going into next year so we can effectively make the changes that we want to get done,” Kuruvilla said. “We need that backing.”
The student body can watch candidate speeches and vote online April 2-4 for the SGA executive board at https://sga.vcu.edu/elections/. Election results will be announced April 9.
Saffeya Ahmed, Staff Writer