USG debate highlights diversity, City Diner, more

Mike Weilandt, Staff Reporter

The latest executive board debate for Undergraduate Student Government took place last night, March 16, and an “unprecedented number” of candidates from all years and backgrounds laid out their platforms for various positions.

Voting has started for the positions of executive vice president, as well as VP of student organizations, student life, academic affairs and finance. There are also four candidates for USG President.

For each role, all candidates were given three minutes to lay out their platform, which was followed by a slew of questions from the moderator.

The debate kicked off with the two candidates for VP of academic affairs, Nel Ganguli and Drew Lopez. 

Ganguli emphasized increased diversity in the classroom. Recalling his experiences as a person of color in elementary school, he advocated for changes in academic policy. 

“I understand the importance of understanding differences and individual identity,” Ganguli said. “I plan to implement lessons and lectures on syllabi to educate students on diversity and inclusivity, as well as a new section in the student handbook dedicated to supportive academic resources.”

Drew Lopez, also running for VP of academic affairs, advocated for a number of reforms to ease the process of receiving help from the Goldman Center for Student Accessibility and other academic resources.

“I propose we conduct an academic census, as well as a website or graphic that offers you help that is catered directly to your needs …  I also want to create initiatives for those who cannot afford the testing required to receive academic accommodations,” Lopez said.

The debate then moved on to two candidates for VP of finance, Alexa Authorlee and Koustubh Pareek.

Authorlee emphasized the importance of student organizations’ participation in the financial process.

“We need transparency and accessibility,” Authorlee said. “I will make the bylaws and information about USG and university finance more accessible to students.”

Pareek hopes to promote diversity in the financial department.

“I will work to provide workshops for very small or minority organizations on campus that focus on multiethnicity,” Pareek said.

Next were the three candidates for VP of student life: Sahil Inaganti, DaSean Spencer and Holly Steinberg.

Inaganti was clear that he wants to ease financial burdens for Tulane Students.

 “I will introduce initiatives to offer direct subsidies to cover the costs to students of books, printing and healthcare, as well as work to introduce a campus food pantry,” Inaganti said.

Spencer followed Inaganti with a platform built on a variety of changes.

“I want to safely reopen the PJs in Howie-T, restore free Adobe Creative Cloud and Photoshop access for students and amend the university protest policy so that students can protest peacefully without Tulane’s approval and TUPD presence,” Spencer said.

The final candidate, Holly Steinberg, emphasized a more streamlined form of communication between students and administrators. 

“As VPSL, my first priority will be reaching out directly to students for their wants and needs, and bringing these demands directly to administrators on a regular basis,” Steinberg said.

Peyton Friedlander is the sole candidate for VP of student organizations.

Friedlander plans to uphold equity and fairness with regards to starting and maintaining new organizations on campus.

“I want to continue to review the bylaws for creating organizations and allow provisional organizations to table at activity expos,” Friedlander said.

Olivia Mullaney, another uncontested candidate, is running for executive vice president. Mullaney plans to widen the reach of information about USG ongoings via a newsletter.

“I plan to create a bi-monthly USG newsletter to inform students on legislation, initiatives and events by USG, as well as ways to get involved,” Mullaney said.

Last, but not least, came the four candidates for USG president: Mia Harris, Bennett Lasater, Jamie Roa, and Leah Stoogenke.

Harris started it off. She emphasized her being the first Black USG president as “the step forward that Tulane needs” and advocated for reducing fines for COVID-19 violations and emphasized respectfulness of marginalized communities in Tulane’s required public service initiatives.

Next was Lasater, who said he wants to bring back City Diner.

“City Diner was an essential part of the Tulane experience, and the administration pulled it out from under us,” Lasater said. “They ran it before, they can do it again.” 

Roa said she will fight for equity, accessibility and community. 

“Trauma training TUPD, TEMS, Counseling Center and CMVSS to increase support for victims of sexual violence on this campus and to continue support for renaming buildings on this campus,” Roa said.

The final candidate for president was Stoogenke, who hopes to rebuild some of Tulane’s program and experience in favor of equity and inclusivity.

“I plan to make sure that USG becomes accessible and the information is brought directly to you,” Stoogenke said. “I’m going to develop an online forum to make USG interactive, communicative and inclusive, eliminating elitism.”

Voting starts today. Click the link below to cast your ballot:

http://tulanesa.co/usgexecvote