See who’s running for president of SGA this year

By Cole Schnieders, Copy Editor

It’s election time for next year’s Student Government Association, and two presidential candidates have assembled their tickets.

One ticket features Shanice Gitungo for president and Elizabeth Raehpour for vice president.

Gitungo is a junior biology major on the pre-med track and is a teaching assistant for chemistry and organic chemistry. She is currently the co-president of Health Equity Resources (HER) with Kimberly Pham. Gitungo is serving as the student body secretary for 2020-2021 and serves on Newman’s mental health task force. She has also been the secretary for Black Student Union and MCLO.

The other ticket features Daniel Knolla for president and Minh Nguyen for vice president.

Knolla is a junior biochemistry major and is a teaching assistant for biology. He is involved in the theatre department, most recently performing in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and has been a member of Newman’s improv troupe, the Sloppy Joes, for more than a year. Knolla is part of the Honors Program and has been a senator-at-large this past year.

While candidates are running with their full cabinet, students will only be voting for president and vice president next week. However, once elected, the president will be able to appoint their chosen treasurer and secretary after advisor approval.

Students will have a chance to vote for SGA senators as well, though all senate positions are uncontested. Vacant senate seats will be filled in the fall elections, as well as two seats for freshmen senators.

Elections will open at 1 p.m. Monday and close 4 p.m. March 25 and will be conducted via email. The winner will be announced 9 a.m. March 26 at Jet Friday in the Fugate Student Center.

Once elected, the candidates’ terms will start Fall 2021.

Following is a summary of where the candidates said they stand on certain issues:

Goals if elected

Gitungo said that mental health is the driving issue his campaign is working on as well as making sure that COVID doesn’t have long term effects on student involvement.

Gitungo also said that addressing diversity and inclusion, ranging from faculty and staff to the student body and government is an important issue for her.

“Lots of people don’t understand how important that representation is, but to me, I understand how important that representation is,” she said.

Knolla said his priorities are revitalizing campus life and making sure he and his cabinet members are available and approachable. He said by doing so, he’s opening up SGA to any students who want to express their opinions.

“I think the president should recognize themselves as a student; they’re still a colleague to other people,” he said.


Gitungo said during the Wednesday debate that her experience on SGA and the executive board of BSU, MCLO, and HER have taught her how to communicate effectively and navigate the processes of SGA to make change happen.

Knolla said theater has made him a better leader and team player, while improv has helped him break out of the pure logic that his science courses require.

“I’m not afraid to disagree, but I’m also, now, not afraid to accept new ideas,” Knolla said.

He also said his wide range of experiences at Newman, from sciences to fine arts and commuter student to dorm resident, qualify him to speak on behalf of most student experiences.

Filling out the cabinet

Gitungo said her main reason for picking each member of her cabinet was their experience in leadership positions and passion. She said that because her treasurer candidate Martin Pham has already served in that role and because she has been on the executive board, her ticket will be able to carry on the momentum that current SGA President Gabby Altenor has started.

“I can see that passion, that drive, in my board members, and I know that they are ready to take the next steps toward change,” she said.

Gitungo plans to appoint Junior Pham as Treasurer and Sophomore Jenny Duong as Secretary.

Knolla said he wanted to make sure that his cabinet’s strengths balanced his weaknesses and to make sure that no matter which students come to him, someone on the cabinet would be able to help.

“All of them are hard working people,” Knolla said. “I chose a team so that there’s many different facets that people can jump into.”

Knolla plans to appoint Junior Brenden Schwartz as treasurer and Freshman Ashley Dinh as secretary.

In conclusion

“I know that I have a passion for advocating for students, for all students…being intentional, being inclusive, and making sure that everyone is heard because everyone has a place at the table,” Gitungo said.

“I’m still one of their classmates,” Knolla said. “I just want to help them. And I feel like the most efficient way to do that is to be the person that they can come talk to, to be the bridge between the administration and the student body.”

PHOTO: Cole Schnieders, Copy Editor