Meet the candidates: Student Association Senate

SA Senate candidates for 2016-17 school year discuss platforms


UB students will get a chance to vote in the first campus election of the school year with the Student Association Senate election just days away.

The Student Association Senate is responsible for distributing the SA budget and recognizing and derecognizing clubs, according to SA’s website. The Senate controls the yearly budgets for clubs with recommendations from the Senate Finance Committee. This budget is collected from the $104.75 student activity fee UB students must pay each semester.

The SA Senate consists of 12 senators. The Spectrum spoke to two representatives from the Empowerment Party and one representative from the Integrity Party. The candidates brought up ideas such as having a “green fee” and creating a Facebook page that would explain the budgeting and distribution process for SA clubs’ money.

SA Senate elections for the 2016-17 school year will be held from Sept. 20 at 9 a.m. until Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. in the Student Union Theater.

Empowerment Party

Name: Dillon Smith

Year: Senior

Major: Political science

Current SA position: SA Senate Chair

Dillon Smith said the Empowerment Party’s platform consists of safety, transparency, accountability and a greener campus.

The Empowerment Party would be the most diverse senate in UB history if elected with seven females and five males who represent “all different aspects of the school,” according the Smith. The party consists of a former BSU president, former treasurer of Latin American Student Association (LASA) and a non-SA student, among others.

“We’re not just trying to do catch phrases that sound good. We want to make promises,” Smith said. “We want to say these things and mean them. What we say is a promise.”

SA runs off student fees but not all of the fees are public information, according to Smith. He wants to develop easier access and more visible ways for students to see where their money is going.

Smith said his party would have an “open-door policy,” where students can discuss grievances or suggestions for SA. He said he wants to hold SA and SBI accountable and make sure club money is being spent fairly.

Smith said his party wants to bridge the gap between North and South Campus.

“Very often we forget that we’re one school,” Smith said. “As SA, we often forget about South Campus. We want to try to increase presence on South Campus.”

Smith wants to develop a greener campus by having a green fee for students so money could be used to hold green projects and have “tangible results.”

Vanessa Dwyer, a senior environmental geosciences major, who is also running to be a senator on the Empowerment Party, said her experiences have increased her desire to bring change to UB. Dwyer is the former president of Environmental Network (EN) and the founder of Fossil Free UB.

Dwyer also worked on the campaign of divestment of fossil fuels from SUNY schools last year.

“Senate is a team job and just having one individual wanting to make change isn’t enough because the problems you have to address are very large and hard to deal with,” Smith said. “You need a solid team of individuals who are experienced and are dedicated to the greater good and are inspired to work in and out week in and week out to get these things done.”

Smith said he would also wants to make services for victims of sexual assault more accessible.

Integrity Party:

Name: Riley Oates

Party: Integrity

Year: Junior

Major: Economics and political science

Current SA position: none

Riley Oates said two of his “core ideals” are honesty and integrity.

“Because of these two things I will bring accountability and transparency to the Senate,” Oates said.

Oates is running independently against the Empowerment party.

Oates was inspired to run independently after former SA president Minahil Khan ran unopposed in 2015. He said he contacted Smith about possibly running on the same party, however Smith never got back to him.

He joined the UB Model European Union during his first semester at UB. He also co-founded the UB Debate Society, which he feels qualifies him for the SA senator position.

“I find myself to be a very honest person,” Oates said. “I find myself to have morals that I hold myself to and sometime it’s very difficult to hold yourself to those –that’s a common failure in today’s society.”

Oates said he would like to increase transparency within the SA. He said he wants to create a Facebook page, which would explain the budgeting and distribution process. He would explain why he voted on a particular budget for an SA club on the Facebook page.

“I want clubs to earn their grants,” Oates said. “I don’t just want to give a club money so one of the things I came up with that I think would be a really good idea is a matching grant.”

Oates said for example, if a club wants $1000, SA Senate could give them $1500 if they fundraise half of the initial price it sought.

Most UB students don’t even know what SA Senate is, according to Oates. He said the SA executive board should be responsible for informing more students about the functions of the SA Senate.

“I don’t think I have power to change anything,” Oates said. “But what I will be able to do is be a watchdog on the Senate and I will be able to make sure that nothing fishy happens,” Oates said.

Hannah Stein and Ashley Inkumsah are the senior news editors and can be reached at