SGA president- and VP-elect ready to take office at end of April

By Cole Schnieders, Copy Editor

The votes have been tallied and counted, and the results are in: Shanice Gitungo and Elizabeth Raehpour are next year’s student body president and student body vice president.

Of the 1,133 eligible voters, 258 students participated, clearing the SGA constitutional bar that at least 4% of students must participate for the election to be valid. The Gitungo-Raehpour ticket won by seven votes over the Daniel Knolla-Minh Nguyen ticket, 132-125.

Gitungo said that she was grateful campaigning was over so she could start work for next year.

“I’m very happy I had the opportunity to run against my worthy opponents, the Knolla and Nguyen ticket,” Gitungo said.

In an email, Nguyen said he congratulates his opponents on their campaign and wishes them the best.

“For my friends and supporters who gave me their trust, I send my deepest regards on behalf of my team and me,” Nguyen said. “I wish the newly elected board of SGA the greatest success, and it is my hope that they will do their best to fight for the student body along with issues that lie beyond the Newman community.”

Raehpour said that she encouraged students to start reaching out to her and Gitungo now as they plan for next year and close out the last month of  2020-2021 SGA business.

“We are aware of how close the election was, and that makes us doubly cognizant of how much we need to give those voters who did not vote for us,” Raehpour said.

Still, Raehpour said, Gitungo and herself will be delivering on many of the promises the Knolla-Nguyen ticket made to voters.

“We have very similar goals in mind,” she said. “We go to the same school; we see the same problems.”

One platform that Knolla and Nguyen ran on during their campaign was decreased executive board salaries and increased senator salaries. Currently, the student body president and vice president receive a $2,000 and $1,750 stipend respectively, while senators receive a $25 stipend per semester. These funds come out of the SGA budget.

Gitungo said she’d consider the measure if enough senators brought it forward, but she noted that senators at most universities receive no compensation. She also said that current stipend amounts allotted to the SGA executive board were established by 2019-2020 President Emily Larkin and, though discussed, were not changed by President Gabrielle Altenor.

“I think the stipend for exec matches the workload that we have,” Gitungo said.

An inauguration banquet will take place April 28 to officially begin the 2021-2022 SGA term.

The only other contested position in the election was the Science and Math Senator. Talia Powers won with 39.4% of the vote over Kathy Pham, Britney Ma, Hy “Emily” Hua and Nkama “Junior” Kimfuema.

Depending on the current senate’s work in the next month, Gitungo said, she and Raehpour may start work on furthering mental health initiatives and renovating the bookstore space over the summer.

Gitungo said she’s anticipating a smooth transition, but for now, she’s focused on supporting Altenor and the current SGA body, she said.

“[Altenor] has probably achieved pretty much close to everything that she wanted to,” Gitungo said. “I know I have gigantic shoes to fill.”

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Shanice Gitungo