Michael Montoro elected as 2019-20 council student representative

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Students elected Michael Montoro as the UB Council student representative for the 2019-20 academic year. Montoro will take office on July 1.

The election took place online last week and Montoro, a mathematics Ph.D. student, ran against Matthew Taboni, a sophomore business administration major. Roughly 3.9% of students, 1,095, voted, with Montoro receiving 601 votes, Taboni receiving 434 votes and 60 voters abstaining. The student representative serves as a liaison between the 10-member council, which oversees and advises the university, and the student body and is included in the council’s decision-making process. 

“It feels good to win,” Montoro said. “I’m grateful for all the people who stuck their necks out for me and helped with my campaigning.” 

Montoro is an organizing committee member for the Living Stipend Movement. Montoro said he will be as forthcoming as possible about the graduate stipends since he has personal experience with the movement. 

“I can bring facts and personal experience to the table because this is something I’ve been thinking about for the past year,” Montoro said.

In his first days as student representative, Montoro said he hopes to focus on issues that can be “immediately solved.”

“I think renaming Kapoor Hall should be top billing at the next meeting, since it’s such a small ask,” Montoro said.

Jude Butch, associate director of Student Engagement, said Montoro must understand the entire student bodies’ wants and needs as the student representative.

“Montoro seems passionate and intelligent, which are both great qualities to have,” Butch said. “He has to remember he’s the only student in the room so he has to represent the student body and what’s best for the student body.” 

Montoro said the council has “huge leverage” over university policy but thinks it doesn’t “take action.” He said he encourages people to discuss student movements so the council can take action on them.

Michael Brown, current UB Council student representative, has held the position for two consecutive years. Brown hopes Montoro will continue to push for UB and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to expand transit pass access to students, as part of his platform is economic justice.

“Public transportation improves sustainability, reduces the cost of commuting and expands student housing options since over 8,700 students live off campus without a car.”

Brown said he is proud of his success in bringing back weekend bus service.

“It was a very heated issue with students, administration and the University Heights community,” Brown said. 

Butch said since Brown held the position for two years, he had the chance to make an impact and did “really well.”

“He’s very professional, intelligent, hard-working and I think he really helped elevate the position,” Butch said.

Although Taboni won't be UB council student representative, he will be holding a variety of positions and be a part of many different organizations.

“I'll still be doing all that I can try and make a difference at UB,” Taboni said.

Taboni said he thinks Montoro will make an “excellent” student representative and is looking forward to what he accomplishes in the role.

Students painted the bull outside of the Student Union supporting Montoro during the elections. Montoro said this showed him how much students believe in his platform.

“The bull painted for me spoke to the strength of my platform and what I can do,” Montoro said. “I hope I can fulfill people’s hopes in doing that.”

Brittany Gorny is an assistant news editor and can be reached at Brittany.Gorny@ubspectrum.com and @BrittanyUBSpec.