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Meet the candidates: R.E.A.L. Party

Transparency and student engagement amongst top promises

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Nearly 24 hours after interviewing with The Spectrum, United Peoples Party, one of two parties initially running in this year’s election, dropped out of the race, Student Association Elections and Credentials Chair Jacob Brown confirmed. U.P.P. dropped out of the race after failing to secure any SA club council endorsements on Monday night.

Members of the R.E.A.L. party are now running unopposed. The last time a party ran unopposed in an SA election was in April 2015, when Unity Party candidates Minahil Khan, Sean Kaczmarek and Joe Pace were elected. Roughly 1 percent of the undergraduate student body voted in the 2015 election.

The Spectrum reached out to Anisha Karim, Makayla Roma and Maia Johnson, candidates of the United Peoples Party. All three declined to comment. Johnson dropped out of the race due to “unforeseen circumstances,” she told The Spectrum in an email.

The SA e-board controls nearly $4 million of undergraduate students’ money funded by the mandatory student activity fee of $104.75 per semester. With these funds, the e-board is responsible for planning many events on campus including Fall and Spring Fest, Distinguished Speakers Series and the Homecoming Carnival. 

Elections for the 2018-19 e-board will take place on March 27-29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Student Union theater. Here is a breakdown of the R.E.AL. party, advocating to “restore effective, accountable leadership.”

President

Name: Gunnar Haberl

Year: Junior

Major: Education policies, political science and legal studies

Current SA positions: Chief of Staff

Gunnar Haberl was a member of the SA Assembly his freshman and sophomore year, leading to his selection as SA Chief of Staff last semester. Haberl also completed an internship with the New York State Assembly. Following his internship, the Assembly hired him, which made him the youngest legislative aide in New York state history. He also won a seat on the Elma School District Board of Education.

Haberl said after Vice President Jamersin Redfern left SA this semester, he filled in when President Leslie Veloz and Treasurer Janet Austin could not hold office hours. He oversees 90 staff members and said he wants to use his management skills to “restore some of the broken relationships within SA [and] form a more transparent, better functioning government.”

He said his first priority is to change the hiring process for SA by taking the application off UBLinked.

“I think in previous years, you’ve seen friends get hired. I think the way the application is on UBLinked gears it towards people that currently work in SA because those that work in SA know how to use UBLinked,” Haberl said. “UBLinked is not easy to use, especially for the general student population.”

One of Haberl’s biggest promises is to advocate for more mental-health care on campus. He also plans on working with Russ Crispell of Campus Life’s Outdoor Pursuits to incorporate an outdoor recreation element on campus. He said he believes a campsite will be beneficial to students’ mental health.

“The university recognizes this is an issue, yet we’re not allocating more funds toward that,” Haberl said. “We’re planning [a] campsite so students can have a fun way to exercise and relieve stress on campus.”

Other SUNY campuses have campsites, and Haberl said he thinks UB should have one as well to remain on par with other institutions. SUNY Cortland has three campsites, and both SUNY Fredonia and Buffalo State College have campgrounds, according to Haberl.

The e-board also said they will invite President Satish Tripathi and Vice President for Student Life A. Scott Weber to have meetings in the SA office, rather than on the fifth floor of Capen. He said it would show UB officials what the SA and its students are accomplishing.

Haberl said his experience as a commuter has encouraged him to reach out to that demographic. He wants to make the commuter lounge more welcoming for commuters, which he said could help entice other commuters to stay on campus and participate in more SA events.

Vice President

Name: Anyssa Evelyn

Year: Junior

Major: Health and Human Services

Current SA position: N/A

Anyssa Evelyn has worked as a resident adviser in Wilkeson Hall and an orientation leader for two years. She’s the Black Student Union events coordinator and she helped found the Fashion Student Association during her freshman year.

Evelyn said her experience with clubs allows her to tackle common club concerns and understand what the general student body wants.

One of her priorities is to help clubs retain the information they learn during orientation by creating “cheatsheets” that clubs can take home with them, Evelyn said.

“The orientation clubs receive is so much information,” Evelyn said. “We need to think of more creative ways of presenting that information to them so they actually retain that information.”

Evelyn also addressed the lack of SU space for club use. Many clubs share offices and struggle to reserve spaces for club meetings. She said she plans to work with Campus Life to expand the available resources for clubs and utilize empty spaces in the SU so clubs can hold larger meetings on a regular basis.

Treasurer

Name: Tanahiry Escamilla

Year: Junior

Major: Chemical and biological engineering

Current SA position: Engineering Council Coordinator

Tanahiry Escamilla has worked as the engineering council coordinator for the past fall semester, working closely with clubs on campus.

Escamilla said the e-board will make club budgets more transparent by informing club leaders about the process of creating club budgets during orientation.

She also said she will create an incentive for clubs to understand the SA Finance book. Currently, a club has to raise 50 percent of its budget through fundraising to qualify for a rollover for the following year. The plan is to lower the fundraising requirement from 50 percent to 45 percent for clubs that prove knowledgeable about the finance book, Escamilla said.

She said her main priority is to be available to answer questions clubs have about the event-planning process.

“By the treasurer not being there to answer their questions, it basically delays their process in planning their events. So that’s my main priority,” Escamilla said.

In regards to the hiring process for SA, Escamilla said she will make it a point to have all three SA e-board members present during interviews.

“If [the employee] knows all three of us in the future, throughout the year when they have issues they should feel comfortable coming to any one of us,” Escamilla said.

Another priority is reviewing how SA spends their budget, especially the entertainment budget. She said the larger events are meant for the whole student body and she would like to see more students get involved.

The news desk can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com.

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