Meet the Unity Party: SA e-board candidates

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The Student Association executive board is responsible for controlling more than $3.5 million of student money collected through the mandatory student activity fee, which will be raised to $104.75 starting next semester. Elections will take place from April 14-16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Student Union Theater. This is the first election since 2008 in which a party is running unopposed.

President

Name: Minahil Khan

Party: Unity

Year: Junior

Major: political science and communication

Current SA position: Director of Student Affairs

Minahil Khan said the ideal Student Association President is someone who is first and foremost an advocate for students. As the UB Council student representative and SA Director of Student Affairs, Khan said she fits that ideal.

“I feel like I really understand the undergraduate needs and that, coupled with the fact I have the skills and experience with advocacy, make me confident I can do a good job as SA president,” Khan said.

Khan said she’s “worked in every aspect” of SA during her three years at UB.

She started off involving herself in political clubs like College Republicans, College Democrats and Mock Trial as a freshman. She has also served as an SA senator and last year was the Special Interest, Services and Hobbies (SISH) Council coordinator.

Khan said she wants to increase the voice undergraduates, both in SA and not in SA, have in the organization. She said she’s “committed to making an inclusive and encouraging environment to all students.”

One of the ways she plans to do this is by creating “a fair hiring process” for SA positions, as the majority of students who apply are already in SA, according to Khan.

“I know everyone says that every year, but we’ve laid it out specifically,” she said.

She plans to use UB’s listserv to email different UB schools and on-campus departments so SA can diversify its applicant pool. She also wants to hold information sessions at different department meetings about SA jobs for people who don’t know what SA is.

“So when we hire students, we’re getting students who have diverse experiences, not just SA,” Khan said.

Khan said to further appeal to the general student body, she wants SA to sell books at a reduced rate for students preparing to take exams like the MCAT, LSAT and GRE.

She said she’s in contact with companies that would sell SA the books at wholesale prices so SA could then sell the books to students at a reduced rate. She said SA would most likely distribute the books through the Sub-Board I Inc. ticket office, but that the details would have to be worked out this summer.

Khan would also like to use the General Activities and Programming budget line to fund buses to take students to other areas of Buffalo like the Albright Knox or to Buffalo Sabres’ games.

She said the scheduling of the buses would be based on the demand and would be catered “around everything else we’re doing so we can maximize the number of students we’re taking.”

“There’s a lot this city offers that people don’t necessarily get to see in Amherst just being on North Campus,” Khan said.

Khan said all options for the buses, including UB Parking and Transportation Services, are being considered and she would go with the cheapest one.

The funding for the buses from the General Activities and Programming line would be available because of the mandatory student activity fee increase, according to Khan.

The mandatory fee all undergraduates pay that funds the SA will increase from $94.75 to $104.75 beginning this fall. Khan said this increase would allow SA to introduce new programs and expand programs that go beyond clubs and cater to all UB students.

“At the end of the day, all students contribute to SA, that’s what makes it possible,” Khan said. “I want students to understand they have a vested interest and it’s something they pay for … We are a student government and we’re collectively responsible for representing all undergraduates.”

Name: Sean Kaczmarek

Party: Unity

Year: Junior

Major: Political science and economics

Current SA position: Special Interest, Services and Hobbies (SISH) Council coordinator

At the age of 18, Sean Kaczmarek half-jokingly told his father he would run for the Cheektowaga-Sloan Board of Education because he felt the Board needed a younger perspective. At the age of 19, he was the youngest person ever elected to the Board.

As the current Special Interests, Services and Hobbies (SISH) Council coordinator, Kaczmarek oversees the budgets and events for approximately 60 clubs. For this reason, Kaczmarek said he feels he is qualified to become the Student Association vice president.

Kaczmarek, who is UB’s finalist for the Harry S. Truman Student Scholarship, worked as the publicity director in the Model United Nations and vice president in the College Democrats during his freshman year. In these roles, he said he learned more about how clubs interact with SA and he recognized where there was a lack of communication between clubs and SA.

As vice president, Kaczmarek wants to form a grievance policy where SA can see where fault lies, if there is any miscommunication and clubs can get a more positive experience.

He also wants to update the current SA club handbook. He is hoping to have a proposal by Aug. 1.

“We are operating on [a club handbook] from two years ago, we want to update it and make it an official working policy that fits SA views,” Kaczmarek said.

Kaczmarek also wants to improve the club orientation experience by gearing orientations specifically toward certain subjects to make them more efficient and easier for those councils and to shorten the overall experience.

“Clubs kind of dread going through them and coordinators think they are kind of boring because they are not specific to our council and a lot of times our clubs don’t get much out of them, so what we want to do is shorten the orientation,” Kaczmarek said.

Kaczmarek said, for example, engineering clubs will hear more specific things about material donations, sports clubs might hear more about traveling and competitions and International clubs might hear more about how to plan events like International Fiesta.

He also wants to make club workshops more effective by having them be more subject-specific. He wants specific workshops in which SA can show clubs what is needed for banquets as far as contracting venues. He also mentioned workshops on coaching for sports clubs and how to bring in speakers.

Kaczmarek said he feels SA’s new website is functional because SA’s budget, club information and forms are all readily available on the website.

“Every database we need to operate as a $4 million organization is built into that website,” Kaczmarek said.

As vice president, Kaczmarek wants more students to get involved in SA and join clubs, which he said they could do by sending out a simple email to discover new clubs. Although the specific details and strategies have yet to be mapped out, Kaczmarek said he plans show students that every club is welcoming and encourage them to get more involved in clubs.

Treasurer

Name: Joe Pace

Party: Unity

Year: Junior

Major: Aerospace and mechanical engineering

Current SA position: Engineering Council Coordinator

As the Engineering Council coordinator, Joe Pace organizes events that the 15 clubs he oversees hold throughout the year. Engineering Week is the largest of these events and this is where Pace said he has gained the experience that qualifies him for Student Association treasurer.

The past two years, Pace was appointed to the finance committee of SA, which is in charge of preparing the entire SA budget for the following year. Pace also said that as the Engineering Council coordinator he disperses more than $20,000 to the clubs in his council.

“My work as Engineering Council coordinator has given [me] insight into the day-to-day process of financial policy and how the SA finance department operates,” Pace said.

Pace wants to make it easier for clubs to receive a rollover from their last budget, as clubs currently must raise 50 percent of the budget allocated to them to receive that budget next year. Pace said he understands that some clubs’ missions are to provide a service rather than to generate revenue, so it may be difficult for them to raise 50 percent of their budget.

He has devised a system that allows clubs to hold or attend three additional community service events, three club events and three SA events to receive a 3 percent reduction off of the 50 percent they are required to raise. This will be in accordance with SA’s program that mandates clubs hold or participate in two fundraising events, two club events, two community service events, two club meetings and two SA events.

He said that the maximum reduction clubs can take off would be 27 percent.

Pace said this new policy would allow more clubs to receive rollover from year to year and it will appeal to the diverse clubs the SA has.

Pace said he also wants more students to get the most benefits they can from their mandatory student activity fee. He said this will start by hiring an effective and motivated staff that will do a good job promoting events.

“If you are putting students’ money towards [events and services], they should know about it and be able to reap the benefits,” Pace said.

Pace said he brought corporations to this year’s Engineering Week so that students could foster relationships with professionals in the industries. Pace said he wants students to benefit from the greater Buffalo community by working with local companies.

Pace has purposely taken a larger credit load this semester so that he can be more available in the SA office if he is elected. He plans to take 13 credit hours next semester. He also said he and his party want to set up a Google calendar for the e-board so clubs can know when the three will be in the office.

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