March Madness

2011 Student Association elections

The annual Student Association executive board elections mark, for some students, the most obnoxious time of the year to attend UB.

For three consecutive days at the end of March, students steer clear of the Student Union at all costs to escape being bombarded by candidates and campaign supporters. Desks, classroom floors, and hallway walls are covered in flyers and posters in the colors of opposing political parties.

While the obvious byproducts of the election may make it very difficult for students to ignore, most undergraduates at UB try their best to avoid it.

Last year, only 2,492 students voted in the Student Association elections, down from the 2,566 students that voted in 2009.

Whether students choose to vote or not, all undergraduates at UB play a part in SA. Each semester, every undergraduate at UB pays a $94.75 "Mandatory Student Activity Fee," which makes up an approximate $4 million budget.

With this money, SA provides funding for over 150 clubs, provides free events like Spring and Fall Fest, and offers numerous other student services.

This year's election is comprised of two very different parties, the Blue Party and the VOICE Party.

The Blue Party, headed by presidential candidate Daniel Ovadia, a sophomore business administration major with a concentration in financial analysis, and vice-presidential candidate Teresa Sprow, a sophomore communication major, is composed mainly of SA newcomers.

While Ovadia is the current SA Community Service Coordinator and Sprow is a current SA graphic artist, this is their first year actively involved in the SA office.

Jonathan Steffen, a sophomore business administration and economics major and a Resident Advisor in Dewey Hall, is running alongside the Blue Party as its candidate for treasurer.

Also running with the Blue Party are delegate candidates Ben Shaw, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, David Noll, a junior political science and economics major, Hannah Carrol, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, and James Gibbons, a junior political science and history major.

In a statement issued to The Spectrum, The Blue Party stated that its platform focuses on "promoting UB Spirit, encouraging campus-wide collaboration and increasing student input. We believe that by promoting UB pride and spirit, we will help make students feel more connected to UB."

The Blue Party continued that their "goal is to best serve the students. To do so most effectively, we would like to collaborate with the other offices at UB…As a party, we have a great deal of experience working with various UB offices, making for very seamless collaboration."

The VOICE Party is led by JoAnna Datz, a senior business and communication major, and Megan McMonagle, a sophomore psychology major. Datz, the current academic coordinator and McMonagle, the current Special Interest Service and Hobby coordinator, have enlisted Sikander M. Khan, a junior computer engineering major, as their candidate for treasurer. Khan is currently the president of the Muslim Student Association.

Khan, like Blue Party opponent Steffen, has never held a treasurer position in an SA club before.

Running as delegates for the VOICE Party are Joseph Belfon, a junior English major, Justin Neuwirt, a sophomore accounting major, Juan Pereyra, a senior sociology major, and Kayla Williams, a junior psychology major.

In a statement issued to The Spectrum, the VOICE Party listed that its main goals were "to educate and advocate for the needs of the students within UB and SUNY. [To] give the voice back to the students at the University at Buffalo. [To] increase school spirit via collaboration with different departments on campus to better serve the students. [To] create better awareness, efficiency, and effectiveness of the Student Association allowing undergraduate students to get the most from their Mandatory Student Activity Fees. [To] organize Student Association functions to make resources more accessible to clubs allowing them to reach their personal and organizational goals."

Current SA Senator Darwinson Valdez, a sophomore political science and philosophy major, is also running in this year's election as an independent delegate candidate.

Valdez, the current treasurer of the People of Color club, PODER, issued a statement to The Spectrum regarding his decision to run.

"The reason I decided to run is because I believe that it is important for the delegate position to be filled by students that have the experience and that have commitment and dedication that it takes," Valdez said. "Once elected to those positions, it is up to the person to really decide how much work they want to put in. I have the passion and the will, and [I] know that if elected I will put the time to make the UB student voice strong."

While all of the delegate candidates, including Valdez, have held notable leadership positions at UB, ranging from RAs to club executive board members, none have had any significant experience dealing with SUNY-wide issues.

In statements issued to The Spectrum, all candidates encouraged students to come out and vote in the election next week.

"The elected people play a big role when it comes to the events that happen on campus, as well as they make the decision that affects all UB students," Valdez said. "These people in office are their voice and will be representing them. If they don't vote for someone that has the idea they want, then their voice most likely will not be heard."

SA Elections, held in the Student Union Theater, begin on Tuesday and end on Thursday. Ballots are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are open to all undergraduates with a valid UB ID.