Meet the Candidates: SA presidential reelection commences

On October 6, 2013

  • Sam McMahon. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum
  • Mohammad Alwahaidy. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum
  • Jessica Honan. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum

In recent years, the Student Association has been under scrutiny following scandals and open-ended promises. The most recent sequence of impropriety led to the resignation of SA President Nick Johns, who was accused of a litany of offenses, Sept. 18.

Now it's time to find Johns' replacement.

SA's presidential reelection will take place from Monday to Wednesday. Voting will be open in the Student Union Theatre from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

On Sunday afternoon, candidates Sam McMahon, Jessica Honan and Mohammad Alwahaidy stood before The Spectrum's editorial board to present their platforms for this week's election.

Editor's Note: Candidates Kyle Davis, James Lopez, Amber Potter and Michael Simons chose not to attend The Spectrum's endorsement process.

Name: Sam McMahon

Year: Fifth-year senior

Major: Aerospace Engineer

Current SA position: Senior Office Manager 

Extracurricular activities/relevant experience: Event staff manager of SA, handled budget and balances over the summer, helped put on freshmen orientation events

One of McMahon's biggest ideas of his platform is student involvement with the $94.75 student activity fee. He said every student "should have a chance to benefit equally." McMahon has proposed two ideas to make sure students can get the most from that fee.

The first is a holiday shuttle service that would bus students to and from the airport around the breaks at UB.

"I've already priced it out," McMahon said. "It's extremely reasonable. I think it's something that if we give enough advanced notice to, all students can benefit from it."

He also proposed the idea of an SA-subsidized taxi system for students. McMahon wants to look into a "10 percent off" deal for cab rides under $100 through a specific cab service when a student shows his or her UB ID card.

"Every undergraduate student who goes to school here has taken a cab at some point in the four years they're here at school," McMahon said. "I think these two things are really important points to kind of cover students who will never join a club [or] never like our Fest genre."

McMahon believes his experience separates him from his opponents. He said SA needs someone who is familiar with the organization and the current SA staff in this crucial time.

Name: Mohammad Alwahaidy

Year: Senior

Major: Biology

Current SA position: SUNY Delegate

Extracurricular activities/relevant experience: Alwahaidy has worked in SA as a SUNY Delegate for the past six months and emceed the 2013 International Fiesta

His first objective is heated bus stops.  

He said he is aiming to install a heated bus stop around the area of O'Brien Hall. The task, which is already almost complete, would keep students warm from the cold winters of Buffalo. The bus stop in the Flint Loop would no longer be used, he said.

"[Myself], Nick Johns and Jen Merckel met with Academic Provost [Charles Zukoski] who is the academic leader of the school," Alwahaidy said. "And hopefully we can get this rolling and we should have an expected due date for the heated bus stops coming back from winter break."

Another one of his objectives is the reduction of the presidential stipend. If Alwahaidy is elected, he said he will decrease the pay to $2,000 because he believes the remaining money could be used for club activities. SA presidents receive a full-year stipend of $12,000, though Johns received the summer and beginning-of-fall pay, and the incoming president will earn roughly $7,000 for his time in office.

"I think if you are willing to step into a position like this, you should be able to make sacrifices," Alwahaidy said. "We are currently, as a Student Association, not looking too bright. So, the more we put toward the [clubs], the more we can get back."

He was also adamant about establishing an 'open door policy' in which students can stop into the SA office, located in room 350 in the Student Union, to question leadership and decisions made by SA. He also believes that "if it shouldn't be said in the office, it shouldn't be said at all."

Name: Jessica Honan

Year: Junior

Major: Pharmacology/Toxicology

Current SA Position: None

Extracurricular activities/relevant experience: Honors College Student Council, work as a paralegal

Honan is a brand new face to SA. She has never held a position in the organization but wants to provide a change she believes it desperately needs.

She said there is disconnect between SA and its clubs and her solution is to collect as much feedback as possible.

She has a simple way of conducting a new form of evaluations. Every six weeks, clubs would write down on a sheet of paper how the organization is doing and what it could do better. SA would then review the feedback.

"The only way to assess and make things better and to progress is to see where we are weak and where we are strong," Honan said.

Though she doesn't have experience in SA, Honan said her experience as an active member of the Honors College Student Council makes her qualified to take on a presidency.

She said she is eager to learn and will be an effective leader if elected.

"Honestly, not being in an SA position right now and not being in the SA office or anything like that, some people might look at is as 'she might not have the experience, oh, she's not qualified.' But I think it's a good thing," Honan said.

Honan sees her inexperience as an asset because she believes she could provide SA with a "fresh pair of eyes."



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