SGA begins election season; candidates reflect on issues

The spring semester brings a new set of classes, lots of snow and eventually warmth to Gannon University students – it also brings election season to campus.
Each year, the elections for the executive board of the student government association (SGA) begin in the spring.
This year, two tickets are running for executive positions.
On the first ticket, Amanda Granata is running for president and Caitlin Klein is running for chief of staff. On the second ticket, James Gruss is running for president and Michael Haas is running for chief of staff.
The first debate of the season will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Room 219 of the Waldron Campus Center.
The candidates are preparing themselves by discussing with each other what topics they would like to bring up at the debate and what topics they would like to pursue during their year in office.
Abagail Cavalier, SGA’s vice president of academic affairs, said that the debate won’t be a traditional sense of the word.
The candidates will both have an opening statement, which will be followed by questions for both presidential candidates and chief of staff candidates. Cavalier said she will then give closing remarks and will open up the floor to questions from the audience.
One of the concerns that all four candidates had was the lack of a sense of unity on campus.
Gruss, a junior software engineering major, said that one of the major points he would like to address as the president would be the lack of communication within SGA and between SGA and the Gannon community.
“I think SGA’s main problem right now is its lack of purpose,” Gruss said. “The point of SGA is to be the voice of the students. There’s this communication model that is between the student body, the SGA and the administration and whenever that model doesn’t work correctly, nothing can get done.”
Gruss, who is SGA’s current vice president of technology, has been involved in the organization since his sophomore year. He said that his experience with the organization will help him in the race.
“There seems to be a lack of purpose, a lack of actual buy-in from the members and that makes it hard to come up with ideas and pass them on to administration,” Gruss said.
Haas, a junior theater communication major and candidate for chief of staff, agrees with Gruss and said that his focus is similar to Gruss’ – to turn SGA into a well-oiled machine.
“From producing a mainstage 10-minute play festival at the Schuster Theatre to running Edge Magazine for the past year and a half, my focus is on turning ideas into action,” Haas said.
“Too often I hear that students don’t know what SGA does and I know that James and I want to reach out even more. The difference between our campaign and others is that we have a cohesive strategy for enacting those ideas.”
Haas also said that he and Gruss work together well.
“James and I come from very different backgrounds and that gives us the perfect lens to look at situations through different angles,” he said. “SGA is on the right track, it’s just a matter of finding the president and chief of staff who can continue a strategy of action, not just talk.”
Granata also said that campus unity is something that she and Klein want to focus on as well.
Granata, a junior pre-pharmacy biochemistry major, said that her campaign is to focus on the unity of the Gannon community and specifically the international students.
“It’s really all about coming together for me and making people feel like this is their community,” Granata said. “I want students to try to get to know more people and get involved on campus.”
Granata said that she is excited to run for office.
“This past year I’ve found my place in SGA,” Granata said. “It really just sparked a passion that I have to do something better for the Gannon community and students.”
Klein, a junior biomedical engineering major, said that she is very focused on Greek unity and the unity of student body in general.
“I’m thinking of installing something outside of the SGA room like a suggestion box that people can put suggestions of what they think needs to be done.”

SAMANTHA GRISWOLD
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