With the final votes in for this year’s Student Government elections, junior Political Science major Pete Petrin and his running mate, sophomore Computer Science major Nick Naraghi, were elected President and Executive Vice President for the upcoming academic year. Pete and Nick sat down to answer some questions for us about what their campaign process was like and what their plans are as the SGA President and EVP.
Keep reading to get to know Pete and Nick and hear about their goals as future student leaders on campus.
Her Campus: What first inspired you to run for SGA President / EVP?
Pete: I actually had a couple of students approach me about the idea––including my eventual running mate Nick––back in late fall. Initial hesitations aside, I found myself intrigued by the prospect of running for Student Body President because of the investment I felt in this campus. I can hardly imagine that the opportunities provided by my Northeastern experience would be possible at any other university, and thus I’ve always done my best to give back to this campus during my time here.
From my two years as a Peace through Play volunteer, my experiences as an Alternative Spring Break team leader, my founding role in the Northeastern chapter of Generation Citizen and beyond, I’ve discovered that serving my community is a principle that I truly enjoy and that motivates me to do my best. That said, I cannot think of a more challenging and thrilling way to serve a campus community that I care so much about than by serving as Student Body President during my senior year.
Nick: Back in the fall, I approached Pete about running for President because I believed he would be an excellent candidate for the position. I recognize that SGA needs serious reform, not in the amount of work that its members do, but in the way that it is represented on campus. Pete is someone that has been involved in all sorts of things around Northeastern and is someone I trust to lead the association in making the changes that it needs. Knowing that he would run, I felt comfortable running as his EVP in order to take charge of new communication efforts that will contribute to SGA's continued improvement.
HC: You both ran under the slogan "Unleash Northeastern." How did you come up with that, and why did you choose it?
Pete: Coming up with those four or five words to capture the millions of thoughts floating around our heads at the time made me CRAZY. I deplored the constraint of limiting our vision for the association and this campus into a catch-all phrase. That said, our campaign team at the time witnessed us struggling through that process and helped us develop the cornerstone of “unleash” that so perfectly articulated our views. “Unleash your Husky Potential” speaks to the belief that Nick and I share in this student body––that on a campus ripe with such innovative, entrepreneurial passion, the policies and apathy that limit our impact and constrain our passion must be cast aside. “Unleash Northeastern” is not just a campaign slogan, but also a mindset and a model that we intend to carry forward during our administration.
Nick: When we were working on our slogan back in February, we had a pretty good understanding of what we wanted it to represent––communication with students, getting students involved, and improving SGA’s interactions with everyone at the University. The difficult part was trying to fit that into a short, catchy package. "Unleash Your Husky Potential" came up in the first campaign meeting after we brought Aaron Gill on board, and we have him to thank for that particular wording. "Unleash" became the buzzword to represent our campaign, and from there we got "Unleash Northeastern" for the actual name of the ticket, the website, and the social media we used in the campaign.
HC: What was the campaign process like for you? Any highlights or low points?
Pete: Campaigning is a roller coaster of emotions like you could never imagine. I felt more pure joy and more migraine-inducing frustration in these past three weeks than I ever have in my life. Our campaign had to overcome plenty of adversity, from anonymous and unprecedented grievances to criminal hackings of our social media accounts and website, yet I remain incredibly proud of the way that our team handled those situations. Ultimately, the highlight of my campaign was the incredible initiative that I witnessed on our campaign team and the way that we worked together as a cohesive unit. As I mentioned in the last debate, a successful Student Body President and a successful SGA does not simply lead, but brings out the leader in all of us. I believe our campaign exemplified that principle, and I look forward to bringing out the best in our student body in the coming year.
Nick: In short, campaigning was completely unlike anything I've ever done before. On one side, it's really rewarding to be able to talk to everyone at the University, but it was difficult to separate candidacy from personal and school life. The best part was going out and talking to students, especially those who have great ideas that I haven't thought of or heard. All in all, it has been a privilege so far, and I believe that the role of EVP is going to include most of the fun parts of campaigning without the less-than-enjoyable parts.
HC: If there were one thing you feel you need to accomplish while holding your respective positions, what would it be?
Pete: Obviously the referenda will be at the top of my agenda next year. Referenda exist so that the voters in the student body election can speak up not just about candidates, but the issues of our campus, and I consider it my first responsibility to work with the referenda to turn those issues into solutions. Beyond the referenda, my top priority is to immediately start exploring alternative systems of representation and reassess the way that students become senators. Students declared loud and clear during this campaign that they do not feel represented by the student government. As Student Body President, it’s my top priority that the Association designed to represent your voice actually makes students feel represented, and I will not be able to call my presidency a success without comprehensively addressing this divide.
Nick: With everything else remaining the same, if there were one thing that I could accomplish in the coming year, it would be an overhaul of the communications that Student Government has with the entire student body. As I told most of the students I got a chance to talk to over the last few weeks, SGA does great work, but it doesn't do a great job of telling students what that work is. Additionally, the accomplishments of SGA thus far are not necessarily aligned with what students want. If I can create an open channel of communication between students and their Student Government, we will be much more representative in the decisions we make, which will in turn decrease student apathy and get an increasing number of people involved.
HC: Anything else you would like Northeastern students to know about having you serve as their President & EVP?
Pete: I want the student body to know that advocacy to me is a collective commitment. During the campaign, I emphasized not just advocating for students, but WITH students. For that system of advocacy to be effective, I face the challenge of getting students to see SGA not as a roadblock, but as a bridge to the administration. I aspire to help students accomplish incredible things for this university, but that starts with all of us making a collective commitment to move this university forward TOGETHER.
Nick: Don't forget that we are students too! I'm always open to feedback and constructive criticism, so if you have any thoughts you would like to share (and you haven't hacked one of my accounts), please feel free to reach out to me in any way you see fit. My email is email@example.com, and I'm also on Twitter and Facebook. On top of that, I'm always open to one-on-one meetings with anyone. If you are willing to take the time out of your day to sit down with me and tell me what you think, I am ready to listen.
Thank you to Pete and Nick for your commitment to Northeastern thus far, and best of luck on your future endeavors as President and EVP! You can follow Pete and Nick on Twitter at @Pete_Petrin and @Nick_Naraghi and check out their Facebook page for more information.
Photo courtesy of the Huntington News