Voting on the future Student Government Association (SGA) president and executive vice president as well as various referenda is set to open on myNEU on Thursday, March 26. The two platforms, IgniteNU and EngageNU, are driven by Eric Tyler with Morgan Helfman and John Finn with Neel Desai, respectively.
Tyler, a junior information science and business dual major, is currently the vice president for academic affairs within SGA and running for student body president. He initially got his start as a senator, representing computer science, which didn’t have any senators at the time, and, after diving into committees, he was hooked.
“I’ve really seen tremendous progress over the past two years,” Tyler said. “Both Nick [Naraghi] and Noah [Carville] have done a tremendous job in engaging students and the administration and creating a conversation and dialogue between both sides. I want to continue that.”
Running for the position of executive vice president (EVP) under Tyler, Helfman is currently the vice president of student affairs.
“When given the opportunity to run for [the] vice president position of student affairs, I jumped at the opportunity,” the sophomore political science and sociology major said. “I’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people through this position.”
Both Tyler and Helfman have noticed a breakdown of communication between students and SGA, highlighting the little-known textbook exchange SGA created last semester. One of their key goals is to increase communication between academic senators and their constituents.
Their platform, IgniteNU, is meant to spark communication, effectiveness and tangible change.
“There’s so much going on on campus and there’s so many things that SGA does; there’s kind of a disconnect between them,” Helfman said. “We know that we need to increase our communication because it’s our responsibility to let students know what we’re working on, especially for something on campus that is happening that’s related to what we’re doing [in SGA].”
Tyler and Helfman hope to improve accessibility to academic senators in order to increase communication and initiatives that have a direct impact on the student body, such as mandatory co-op evaluations and to set up a peer mentoring service. This service, according to Tyler, will pick up where orientation left off and allow students to access peers with diverse backgrounds. He hopes it can help foster student communication and engagement, and provide a support system to students.
“We want to be able to give our students something that they can say ‘SGA did this for me, I’m proud of my SGA, and I’m proud of Northeastern for providing this avenue for change,’” Helfman said.
Finn, the other presidential hopeful, was originally involved in Resident Student Association (RSA) as the liaison to SGA. He then returned to SGA as the vice president for student services last fall. Now on co-op, the third-year finance and accounting major notes that what he loves about student services is the reach and interaction with students, which he hopes to expand upon as president.
“I thought, ‘this model really lets SGA assimilate into the student body and can get a lot of feedback and talk to a lot of people,’” Finn said. “I thought that I really wanted to bring that to the whole organization and let people know that SGA is a tool they can use on campus and we are here to help. I’m really excited to meet a lot of students and to help them as much as I can.”
Desai, a sophomore economics major, is the current vice chairman of the finance committee. He notes that the position of EVP would allow him to work as the project manager on student initiatives and increase participation and diversity.
“It’s up to us to really put student issues in context, because students are the ones that face these issues for the administration,” Desai said. “We have the ability to have tangible change and improve things on campus if we go about it the right way.”
Finn and Desai’s platform, EngageNU, is a three-part plan focusing on engagement, building relationships and action.
“We want to be able to engage with the student body, enable discussion and have people feel comfortable seeking us out,” Finn said. “The second step is to build. We want to build relationships and have the infrastructure needed so students trust us when they come to us, that we can get things done for them. And finally, act. When students come to us, we want to be able to be receptive, hear what they’re saying, but most importantly be able to act on it and help them get their goals done.”
EngageNU’s main goal is to take what students are passionate about and expand on it quickly and efficiently.
“I think the core of our platform is really being an accelerator, not just an incubator for change,” Desai said. “Being able to connect with students on a year-round basis and reach out to them and see what kind of issues they face and what particularly SGA can help them out with.”
The announcement of future SGA president will be made on April 6.
“I’m a very outgoing person,” Finn said. “I really like to have conversations with people who I may have never met, and I really just like to talk to people on campus. I think that it’s a lot of fun to to talk to someone who is very interested in what’s going on on campus and really loves their school, and if anyone ever had anything they wanted to talk to me about – they could always reach out.“
Platform and candidate information is listed on the SGA website.
“I would be a great president because of my experience and my passion,” Tyler said. “Having sat on the executive board this past year, I know where SGA stands and what needs to change in order to move forward and better advocate on behalf of the student body. As much as I love Northeastern, I love seeing the university change for the better and doing whatever I can to make the student experience even better."
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
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