CUA, Meet Your New President and Vice President of SGA
Name: Anne St. Amant
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Graduation Year: 2017
Involvements in CUA:Member of Custos, College Republicans, Lector for student Masses, Former member of SAGA, Resident Assistant for first year women in Ryan Hall, Internship with Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Internship with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Undergraduate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
Name: James Benedek
Hometown: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
Major: Politics/ Pre-Law
Graduation Year: 2017
Involvements in CUA:– Former member of SAGA, College Republicans, Student Coordinator for Residence Life, Resident Assistant in Opus Hall
Her Campus: Hi there James and Anne, thank you so much for sitting down to speak with us today. Congratulations on your election. Our first question is for both of you: Can you please explain what SGA is to the student body?
James and Anne: The Student Government Association is CUA’s new form of student government. We’re all really excited because this new format of government maximizes the ability for students to really get involved and have their voice heard. Now, students directly elect a Student Body President, which we feel is crucial for student government’s presence on Campus. Along with a President, there is a Vice President, Treasurer (who, along with a board of eight allocates the student fee), and secretary. In the fall, we will hold elections for the Senate- there will be two elected senators from each class as well as two senators from each academic school in order to maximize the diversity of student involvement in the government.
Her Campus: Anne you have wanted to run for student body President since you first set foot on Catholic’s campus, can you explain your passion for this position?
Anne: When I first came to CUA I didn’t even know what SAGA, CUA’s former student government, was. Even as a politics major, it took me a month to fully understand how student government worked here. With this new government, there is so much potential. This government encourages more and more students to get involved. Even with our applications for the task forces, we are getting applications from nursing majors, finance majors, and so on. I’ve always loved the idea of being a part of something bigger than myself- I think with this new government, we are all apart of something so much bigger and we can achieve so much that will not just affect us all positively but future cardinals for years to come.
Her Campus: We are ecstatic that your passion will drive this new SGA. What is the one thing you and James cannot wait to implement?
Anne and James: That’s actually such a tough question. In the initial phases of the campaign, James and I came up with a comprehensive list of issues that many students here at CUA would like to see change- we called it Anne’s 8 points. It’s tough for us to pick because we know that each point speaks differently to each student. One student might think our Mental Health Initiatives are most important while another is most excited about our Diversity task force. James is really excited about pursuing Financial Transparency from the administration here on campus, and I am very enthusiastic about encouraging Health and Wellness here at CUA. But again, I don’t know if we are excited about one in particular but rather the positive change we can bring as a whole.
Her Campus: In the surrounding DC area, Georgetown University, George Washington University, and American University all have policies that incorporate run-off elections to ensure whoever is elected represents a majority. Catholic University of America does not have a run-off election incorporated. How do you feel about this? How do plan on gathering the momentum of the student body being elected with 35% of the student body vote.
Anne and James: That is definitely an important topic of discussion. Speaking from a SAGA perspective, because this was the first election of SGA, we were going into unchartered territory. We weren’t even sure if the Nest had the capacity to calculate a run-off election. We would really like to see run-off elections become a reality in future SGA presidential elections; from our research, it does work well with other universities and we’re working our hardest to make SGA the best it can be. Although there were five different Presidential tickets, we all had a lot of reoccurring themes to our campaigns- whether green initiatives or mental health awareness- we all had many of the same goals. I truly believe that we all ran with the interest of the students as our first priority. The other tickets all had a great amount of passion and excellent ideas, and James and I are definitely taking those into account with how we are running our administration.
Her Campus: James, our next question is for you. How did you ultimately decide to run on Anne’s ticket? What was your relationship with Anne?
James: Anne and I actually met because of SAGA. Because of that, we have always had the utmost respect for student government because we were delegates before we were friends. Anne and I work very well together but we differ in our way of thinking and our perspectives. Our friendship and our ticket are both dynamic, respectful, and positive which is why we decided to run together.
Her Campus: We noticed you had quite a unique team on Election Day supporting you. What was your strategy? How did you get the voters to turn out?
Anne or James: We were confident that we needed 400 votes to win this election; we felt that a strong voter turn out would happen by simply getting the word out about election day and the new SGA which is why we were adamant about posters around campus as well as having a rally the night before. Our team of supporters showed great passion and have a tremendous amount of intelligence; James and I feel so honored that they chose to support us.
Her Campus: We noted an article in the Tower accusing your team members of knocking on doors during the election (an illegal tactic according to SAGA). We would like to give you the opportunity to respond to that tower article.
James: Anne and I were in the Pryz almost the entire day. We were very careful about following the rules- so much that we were hesitant to even enter our own residence halls. When we did, we remained in the lobby, which was in accordance with the rules.
Her Campus: Do you foresee any speed bumps that could potentially hinder your vision for this new Student Government and how do you plan on facilitating the most change possible despite these challenges?
Anne and James: We are hoping for good turn out for the senate elections. We really want to encourage the students from each academic school to run. We also are encouraging that the dialogue between students and the administration remain respectful no matter the subject matter. Our vision for a better student government will only happen if we all remain respectful and mindful of each other’s dignity.